|The IGP Mugello sweet chestnut|
One of the most typical products of the province of Florence is the sweet chestnut, and especially the variety produced in the district of Mugello. In 1996, the Mugello sweet chestnut was granted the prestigious IGP (Protected Geographic Indication) status by the European Community.
This recognition protects and enhances the chemical-physical, taste-and-smell and nutritional qualities of food and agricultural produce which has a specific geographic origin. IGP certification requires producers to apply and adhere to a strict set of production rules and that the produce be submitted to checks by the certifying body who must verify that the entire production stream conforms to the rules. This means that monitoring begins in the chestnut woods and ends with the IGP Mugello sweet chestnut packed and ready for sale. The towns with IGP status are Borgo San Lorenzo, Dicomano, Firenzuola, Londa, Marradi, Palazzuolo sul Senio, San Godenzo, Scarperia and Vicchio.
The nutritional label of the IGP Mugello sweet chestnut highlights its food value as a modern-day source of nourishment while still coming from centuries-old Mugello traditions. Chemical analysis shows that the sweet chestnuts are nourishing and easily digested, they are rich in carbohydrates (especially starch) and similar to wheat and rice (which gave rise to their post-war name of "poor people's bread" and, today, "cereal on a tree"). Fresh sweet chestnuts have quite a high calorie count (180 Kcal per 100 gr. of product) which is, however, much lower than that of walnuts, almonds and other dried fruit (about 600 Kcal per 100 gr.). There is a good content of fibre and sugar and low fat (of which very few "bad" saturated fats and many "good" unsaturated ones). They are also rich in mineral salts (especially potassium and, to a lesser extent, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and iron). Antioxidants of the vitamin E family have also been found (oddly enough widely used in anti-aging beauty creams) and a high content of polyphenyls.
The IGP Mugello Sweet Chestnut Association
Set up in 1998 with the aim of promoting awareness of the quality of the IGP Mugello sweet chestnut, it is composed of producers who are enrolled in the IGP Mugello sweet chestnut register and whose product comes from the origin denomination area. The register counts some 150 companies, more than half of which belong to the association. The members harvest from some 350 hectares with a production potential of over 300,000 kgs.The aim of the association is to promote the product in major national and international food and agriculture fairs by means of guided tasting, enabling the consumer to know the product better and distinguish the IGP Mugello sweet chestnut from others on the market. Furthermore, it also combats promotion of false information and gives advice on the various stages in the production stream on current laws and how to develop strategies to enhance a product so uniquely typical and traditional.