Aragon is a land of good food, any lover of gastronomy knows how to appreciate the quality of the veal, the oil of Lower Aragon, the wine of Somontano, saffron or organic fruit and vegetable production of the Community. These are highly coveted foods that, like the Aragonese themselves, stand out for their nobility, for giving what they promise: a flavor and quality that make them the protagonists of all kinds of preparations.
More and more people know this, in fact, thanks to promotional campaigns such as “Aragón Alimentos Nobles. What you see, is”, Aragonese foods have more and more admirers all over the country.
But did you know that all these foods are grouped in different figures that serve to authenticate their high quality and protect them from imitations? Read on to learn more about them.
The first thing you should know is that in Aragon we take the quality of our food so seriously that a law regulates and guarantees that all the processes related to them meet very demanding standards. This is the Law of Food Quality in Aragon, which imposes requirements in terms of raw materials, production or marketing that go beyond those usually requested. If a producer complies with these requirements, he can apply for one of the food quality categories, which gives his product the added value of being considered ‘quality food from Aragon’. In total, there are six categories that we detail below.
Protected Designations of Origin (PDO)
It is the best known protection figure and applies to products whose quality is mainly due to the place where they are harvested or processed, due to their natural or human factors. That is to say, in our case it refers to high quality foods that are produced in Aragón due to the particularities of its terrain (such as the soil or the climate that give Cariñena wine its characteristic flavor). In order to guarantee quality, this figure of protection is regulated by the Autonomous Community itself and also at European level.
In Aragón there are eleven different designations of origin. Six of them correspond to wine products (Calatayud, Campo de Borja, Cariñena, Somontano, Aylés and Cava) and the rest to food production (Aceite del Bajo Aragón, Aceite Sierra del Moncayo, Cebolla Fuentes de Ebro, Jamón de Teruel, Melocotón de Calanda, etc.).
There is also another wine PDO in the process of being recognized: Urbezo.
Protected Geographical Indications (PGI)
This is a figure of protection similar to the previous one, although in this case the link with the territory is less strict. That is to say, for PGIs it is not obligatory that all the phases of the production process take place in the same geographical area, one is sufficient.
The Protected Geographical Indications in Aragón are Ternasco de Aragón, Navarra Asparagus, Avila Meat, and Vinos de la Tierra (Bajo Aragón, Ribera del Jiloca, Valdejalón, Cinca Valley, Ribera del Queiles, Ribera del Gállego – Cinco Villas).
Yes, it may surprise you that in Aragon there are two PGI of Navarra and Avila, this happens because some areas of our territory meet the necessary conditions to produce these products, which are made with varieties of the areas that are protected, specifically with asparagus from Navarra and with Avileña-Negra Ibérica cattle.
All these Protected Geographical Indications could soon be joined by that of Teruel pork, which is in the process of being registered.
This figure does not protect specific products, but rather an artisanal way of doing things and, by extension, the food derived from this activity. To be recognized as artisanal, the activity of elaboration and transformation must be subject to processes that guarantee that the final product is individualized, that is to say, that each one is different thanks to the intervention of the artisan. Specifically, it refers to traditional and environmentally friendly techniques, resulting in natural products that reflect Aragonese cultural and gastronomic traditions.
Surely you understand it better with examples such as cheese, honey, beer or pasta that are made, especially in many rural areas of our Community. Currently in Aragon there are 109 artisan producers officially recognized by this figure, and the regulations group them into three categories: food artisan, food artisan company or food artisan master.
The quality of Aragonese food is also a hallmark of organic production. That is why this figure applies to production based on natural processes that respect the environment, biodiversity and animal welfare. Only foods that meet this requirement can include the words ‘ecological’, ‘biological’ or ‘organic’ in their labeling.
This is very important, because surely you have ever come across products that appear to be organic but in reality were only taking advantage of this title to promote themselves. Well, this figure of protection guarantees that the product of Aragon that carries it has been produced using processes that respect the environment.
The Aragonese Committee of Organic Agriculture performs functions of control and certification of producers and productions, as well as promotion of organic production in the community.
This category is also closely related to respect for the environment, although, unlike organic, in this type of agri-food products such as fertilizers or pesticides can be used, although their use is limited by the regulations that regulate them to reduce the impact on nature. It could be understood as a production halfway between organic and conventional.
Aragon applies this guarantee figure to eight agri-food products: peas, rice, winter cereals, stone fruit, pome fruit, potatoes, industrial tomatoes and alfalfa.
C’alial is the brand with which the Department of Agriculture, Livestock and Environment of the Government of Aragon guarantees exceptional quality in foods that meet extraordinary production and processing requirements.
It was created in 1991, although since 2007 it has been known as C’alial. It is the successor since then of the brands ‘Aragón Calidad Alimentaria’ and ‘Calidad Alimentaria’, which includes requirements in terms of raw materials, processing methods or packaging to be a guarantee of a differentiated quality.
It is the most widespread quality figure in terms of the products to which it applies, which are divided into eight typologies:
- Meat: Beef, jerky, chorizo, sausage, cured pork loin, preserved pork in oil, Aragon sausage, Aragon black pudding, cured shoulder, chickens, smoked veal and rabbit meat.
- Fruit and vegetables: extra virgin olive oil, rice, Aragon saffron, borage, sweet onion from Fuentes, protected fruit with integrated treatments, Caspe olive and canned fruit.
- Dairy products: Sheep yogurt, eggs, mature cheese and fresh cheese.
- Confectionery: Coc de Fraga, florentine, fruits of Aragon, pastry and confectionery products, piedrecicas del Calvario, butter cakes, Almudévar braid, black nougat and nougat brittle, Russian cake, Balsa cake and marzipan chestnuts.
- Wine vinegar.
- Bread: pintera or pintadera, chusco, cinta and cañada.
You already know all the figures that protect Aragonese foods and guarantee their quality! As you will have seen, many foods are included in all of them because, as we said at the beginning, Aragon is a land of good food. So from now on, when you enjoy them, you will know why the processes with which they are produced give them a flavor and organoleptic qualities that make them unique products with an unparalleled taste.