New Film: Organic Purity, Italian Style

When the Rivara family left their village near Florence early last century to emigrate to Argentina, they brought with them one of the great treasures of Italy. Surrounded at every turn by the magnificence of Michelangelo, da Vinci and Botticelli, they remembered nature’s own exquisite work of art: red flint corn.

The story of this extraordinary family and their uncommonly original corn is the focus of One Degree’s newest film, a panoramic sampling of our recent voyage through Latin America.

In an age in which a single laboratory strain of corn claims millions of acres in the Americas, finding an heirloom variety like red flint feels like an epic archeological discovery. And finding whole fields of pure red flint, grown organically and profitably marketed to the world, is an even rarer surprise.

The Rivara family’s rose-hued variety of ancient maize originated in the Italian Alps, and has long been prized not only for its beauty, but also for the range of subtle flavors it adds to even the simplest cornmeal recipes.

In many ways the crop is the pinnacle of a family enterprise that began by offering insurance, auctions and other services during the Great Depression to farmers in the small town of Alberti, not far from Buenos Aires. Over the years, the company moved on to storage and milling, transportation, sale of fuel and seeds, and ultimately cultivation of land.

As you might expect, the Rivara family joins a love for great food with the Italian eye for beauty — which in this case means putting every element of the process on display in the elegant frame of transparency.

“Transparency is control,” son Diego explains on the film. “If you show the path from grain to final product, there are no questions to be asked. It’s a great thing that you can use. It’s open to everyone; come and look. It’s not just a certificate — it’s much better.”

We invite you to spend some time in Alberti savoring the warm hospitality of the Rivara family. Begin your visit with our film premiere below. Or enjoy the video along with photos and an essay on our Web site: