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No, we are not doing well

Les Garrigues presents a gastronomic show in the middle of a production crisis, fights and depopulation. And few mentioned it.

Cooks from the region during the last presentation. © Albert González Farran

The Garrigues Gastronomic Show is a long-standing initiative. 29 years in which the county council has insisted on offering a gastronomic proposal mixed with tourist experiences where extra virgin olive oil, made in Les Garrigues, is the main protagonist. As a concept, it is already a consolidated success.

A few days ago, politicians and technicians presented again this project to the media. But it is worth saying that the context is frankly different from three decades ago and it gives me the feeling that it is being ignored in excess. I don't know if it is necessary to rebuild the initiative or, at the very least, to warn that it is in the middle of a serious crisis that is either faced with courage, or will end up destroying us.

Only five restaurants are participating in this year's show, the lowest number in the history. Last year was already low with only eight restaurants, while times before the pandemic, there were fifteen. What happened? In Les Garrigues there are fewer and fewer good restaurants. They are closing both due to the economic suffocation they suffer and talents and young entrepreneurs leaving. The region is being rapidly depopulated.

To this we add the bad olive oil season that is expected for the second year in a row. Drought and heat are reducing expectations by 15% less than last year. Olive oil is becoming an overpriced commodity for both consumers and producers.

And if these two fronts were not enough, les Garrigues suffers from a third one that stretches back many decades. The Denomination of Origin regulatory council has long been protecting the name of the region and preventing non-registered people from using it. This fact has lately caused so many complaints and fines that it has forced the two sides to sit down and negotiate a friendly exit. But at the moment, as things are, there are circumstances as surprising as those of Albium, the private mill in l'Albi that hosted the presentation of the 29 Mostra Gastronòmica and which has also banned from using the term "Garrigues" in its publications and communication channels. Even to say that they were the hosts of this public presentation.

Ignoring all of this context will not make the problems the region suffers from disappear. Moreover, if they are not faced with sincerity and immediate and effective solutions, it will end up relegating us to one of the most depressed and forgotten regions of the country. And since the responsibility is ours alone, we will have it well deserved.

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