Some time ago I read a book that started with the story of a boy and his passion for fishing. In adolescence that passion was subdued, to explode again many years later, and becoming something different: a passion not just for fishing but for research and environmentalism.
It may seem strange, but there are still children with this passion today. I’ve met one, and I’ve been to a shop in my hometown with him on more than one occasion, Caccia&Pesca (Hunting & Fishing), where the owner is also a teacher on fishing techniques and fish biodiversity.
Lorenzo and Edoardo, the two young men who run Altura – together with a third partner, Fabio, who works on distribution – have an analogous experience. A passion for fishing and a love for the mountains that have been transformed into a career. Altura is today a small but successful business that restores value to the river trout, a fish that’s often forgotten.
Smoked fish of the mountains
Lorenzo tells me: “Since we were children we learned to know our local area, walking and going fishing. It was natural to turn this into a job, putting everything that we’d learned into action. Today we work with fish farmers who work in the Aosta Valley and Piedmont: Troticoltura Morgex, Agritrutta di Crava in Morozzo, Troticoltura Testa in Mellea. We’ve only work with small-scale producers who raise their trout exclusively in the cold waters of alpine springs. The slow growing process with natural feed and the low density of the animals guarantees a fish that’s lean and tasty.”
“We were able to create something new and original in this area of the Aosta Valley, a business that reflects our vision of a more sustainable, responsible and local future focused on quality over quantity. Altura is a young business that wants to restore value to fish products of the mountain tradition, delicacies that are often forgotten.”
Altura works on the transformation of the fish: “We work with rainbow trout and salmon trout, brook trout and whitefish. Edoardo works in a carpenters, so the beechwood, alder and cherry wood we use to smoke the fish is of guaranteed quality. All our work is based on the quality of the ingredients: not just the spring fish, but the local woods and alpine grasses, as well as the salt, which is also of exceptional quality.” As well as smoked fish products, Altura has other products on offer: caviar and bottarga, for example, and nuggets of marinated fish, as well as a line called “Gelo Alpino” (Alpine Frost) available for home delivery with themed boxes of fish products.
Fish that’s good for you
Lorenzo and Edoardo don’t just have commercial ideas. As they write on their site: “The world of fish is vast and often confusing. Everyone knows that fish is good for you, but do we know that this is true for all fish? We want a more sustainable future, and a high-quality future. Both are things which intensive fishing cannot guarantee. The long supply chains have created a disconnect between our desires and our responsibilities towards the environment that hosts us, and we want to make a more responsible choice.”
Returning to the theme of supplies, these small, low-density farms live alongside the environment and respect the trout, leaving them ample and space and time to grow with a natural diet that’s free of antibiotics.
The economy in hard times
Regarding 2020, Lorenzo and Edoardo were able to cushion the impact of the crisis. “In 2019 over 70% of our income came from the restaurant sector. In 2020, obviously this wasn’t possible. But we managed. We worked a lot with the CSAs and other channels of distribution small and large. Online sales have proven to be a great opportunity too, and thanks to our site, to social campaigns and initiatives like Terra Madre, we’ve been able to generate interest in our work.”
Lorenzo is now working full-time on Altura, together with his wife, and there’s the possibility of future expansion: “There’s a lot of interest in our products. So for now, Altura has one employee and an intern, so that we can satisfy all of the demand.”
A success to be proud of, when a childhood passion can be transformed into a job that’s good, fresh and sustainable!
by Silvia Ceriani, firstname.lastname@example.org