Limited quantity

On the meaning of “limited quantity” or “small scale,” the debate is open and the shared definitions few. It is, in fact, a relative concept that depends on context (the case of a Mediterranean island is very different from the Amazon or the Sahel, for example) and the type of production (growing onions is not like producing saffron or an aged Alpine cheese), and it is very difficult to give a certain number or precise formula. In the context of the Ark of Taste (but also in other projects, like the Presidia and Earth Markets) we are interested in selecting products that could not be mass produced or industrial. In practice, “we are not able to calculate what is right, be we know very well how to recognize what is wrong” (Schumacher, 1973). The products on the Ark are tied to a specific territory and the knowledge of a community, and it is precisely these two elements that define their limits. It is not possible to increase the quantity produced over a certain limit without fundamentally changing the nature of production. When the volumes produced grow too much or too quickly (time is also an important variable), this can lead to cultivated areas being turned into monocultures, to animal populations multiplying too fast and being managed intensively, to primary inputs being imported from outside of the production area (sometimes from very far away), and to the mechanization of many if not all of the steps in the production chain, compromising craftsmanship in order to have a standardized product. The Ark of Taste is a catalogue of products, not producers. Therefore, it is not necessary to have an exact figure of the quantity produced (data which is, however, essential for a Presidium), but it is important to at least identify an order of magnitude, to establish whether we are dealing with an artisanal or industrial product.