Listen on the go: Four Days investigation, narrated by Kevin Donovan and published by Nation Books, a New York publisher. (Amazon UK|Amazon US, or online via bookshop.com)
(This article was co-produced with our friends at the American Prospect, The Nation, and PublicSource.org. Click the buttons below to explore other stories in the series.)
The world’s first mass-produced, mass-produced by hand, and all-natural, mass-produced food has just hit the shelves. It’s called Four Days and it’s made from flour, water, and salt by hand in Tuscany, Italy, by small family farms. It’s the very first commercial edible food to be made without chemical fertilisers, pesticides, or hormones. The company is called Toscana Agro Bolognese e Vini, and is owned by Massimo D’Agostino, a former wine merchant who left Italy in the 1970s.
From the beginning, Four Days was a labour of love. D’Agostino is a self-taught farmer who, as a student, travelled to other countries, to explore new ways of farming. He spent 15 years in South Africa and New Zealand in his final years. The idea for the new product came when he went on a road trip through Italy. He was inspired by the many small, family-owned producers in Italy’s south where he went to study agriculture. He realised that the only way to build a sustainable food supply chain of large scale was through the production of local, natural products, as he knew from his previous travels that large-scale farms were not the answer, as they would just export the product to a third world market.
“I was inspired by the many small, family-owned producers in Italy’s south where I went to study agriculture.”
He was not alone. The idea for the company was first raised at a meeting between D’Agostino and a group of Italian politicians who were visiting Tuscany. He met Gianni Paragone, head