New Presidium for Menton’s Pink Onion

Protection and promotion for a typical example of a small-scale, local product with a short distribution chain

 

A new Presidium for the pink onion grown in and around Menton, a coastal town in the south of France, will be officially launched on July 9 at the Fête de l’Oignon. Held along Menton’s Esplanade Francis Palmero from 9am to 11pm, the festival has been organized by a collective that brings together a wide range of approaches and skills to safeguard Menton’s pink onion variety.

The Menton Pink Onion Presidium, which joins the 22 other Slow Food Presidia already protecting biodiversity in France.

 

“Because of its limited shelf life, the Menton pink onion tends to be a product that should be consumed in the area where it is grown, a typical example of a short supply chain,” said Joël Besnard, co-president of the Maison des Semences Paysannes Maralpines collective and coordinator of the new Slow Food Presidium. “Over the years, this onion has been abandoned in favor of longer-lasting varieties.”

Representatives of Slow Food France will be present at the Fête de l’oignon rose in Menton, including Juliette Helson, coordinator of Slow Food Paris Terroir du Monde, at a stand shared by Slow Food France and two Slow Food groups from the neighboring Riviera Ligure (Slow Food Riviera dei Fiori Alpi Marittime and Slow Food Val Nervia – Otto Luoghi).

But the seeds are now being planted again and the onion has become very popular with market gardeners in the region, as well as with consumers who appreciate its size and color as much as its taste. Also known as the Rose de Menton, the onion is medium to large in size and slightly flattened on both sides. The outside scales are pink, fading to white in the center. The flavor is mild compared to other onions, but with a moderate amount of piquancy.

Although resistant to mild winter weather, the onion is well adapted to the warm temperatures along the coast in the south-east of the Alpes Maritimes department. Sowing traditionally takes place at the full moon in August, in fertile soil rich in organic matter, though without the addition of manure. The pencil-sized plants are planted out in early fall, spaced four inches apart in all directions. They are thinned out as they develop and the fields are weeded by hand. The plots should be well exposed to the sun and watering should be moderate, mostly during sowing, transplanting, flowering and seed formation.

Once harvested, the pink onions are sensitive to shocks. Their fleshy scales, rich in water and sugar, mean they are not suited to long storage and must be eaten during the summer. They will spoil during long-distance transport, so must also be eaten locally.

“Because of this lack of a wider market, the small and medium vegetable farms need support with marketing. Slow Food will be helping them use its narrative labelling tool and also supporting the implementation of a participatory certification initiative, said Besnard.

For further information, please contact Joël Besnard, coordinator of the Slow Food Menton Pink Onion Presidium: [email protected]

The Slow Food Presidium project supports quality products at risk of disappearing, protects unique territories and ecosystems, promotes traditional processing methods and safeguards indigenous species and local plant varieties. Today, over 14,000 producers are involved in almost 650 Presidia around the world.

Slow Food is an international network of local communities founded in 1989 to prevent the disappearance of local culinary cultures and traditions, and to halt the spread of fast-food culture. Since then, Slow Food has grown into a global movement involving millions of people in over 160 countries, working to ensure that everyone has access to good, healthy and fair food. Slow Food is the coordinating organization responsible for leading the movement as a whole.

 

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