With the release of New York Times reporter Michael Moss’s new book, “Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us,” and his Feb. 24 New York Times Magazine article adapted from the book, new questions are being raised about how food industry is preparing addictive products loaded with salt, sugar and fat – including products such as Lunchables.
On the other side of that equation is David Dukcevich, one of the third-generation of family owners of Daniele Foods in Pascoag, making dry-cured gourmet meat products in a traditional manner.
His products are available through Farm Fresh Rhode Island, at Persimmons Market and at Farmstead market and restaurant, and at Dave’s Markets, among others/
Providence Business News asked Dukcevich to talk about the economic and health business drivers of his enterprise, which is branded as “food, family and passion.”
PBN: What are the processes used by Daniele Foods for your local brand of finely cured Italian deli meats that make them healthier than other forms of processed meats?
DUKCEVICH: All of our products are gluten-free. Also, unlike most salamis in the market, our local line doesn’t use ingredients like MSG, Sodium Ascorbate, BHA, BHT and other chemicals. Always check the ingredients statements of your food! When you see those ingredients appear, put that product down.
PBN: What are the economic benefits of locally supported agriculture, from your perspective?
DUKCEVICH: The biggest economic benefit of our local line is that we buy pork from local hog farmers. This added business will hopefully allow farmers to invest in their land and equipment.
The best thing about this project, if it works, is that it is based on a sustainable business model. There’s no charity involved. We pay the farmers for their hogs, we use those hogs to make and sell our salamis, which will then enable us to buy more hogs.
PBN: How would you recommend that your finely cured Italian deli meats be integrated into a healthy diet?
DUKCEVICH: I always pair our charcuterie with fruits and vegetables. In the summer I eat prosciutto with melon and figs.
Capocollo is delicious when wrapped around roasted asparagus. I love dicing salami and using it as a salad topping.
And our pancetta, i.e. Italian bacon, is great when wrapped around seafood; I like wrapping it around shrimp and grilling it.
We had Johnson & Wales chef instructor Ray McCue develop healthy recipes for us, which you can find on our website, www.danielefoods.com.
PBN: What are the different kinds of products that you make? Are they all made from traditional recipes?
DUKCEVICH: We make about 20 different products, the core being prosciutto, salami, sopressata, pancetta, mortadella and bresaola. Everything is based on ancient recipes. The very first product we ever made was a Hungarian Salame. My grandmother Carolina would smoke it and use paprika. We still make that one!
PBN: Are you planning to collaborate with other local farmers and food producers in projects, such as Farm Fresh Rhode Island?
DUKCEVICH: We already are working with local farmers and Farm Fresh Rhode Island, and we hope to do more with each. We’ve invested a lot of time and effort in this project and we hope it will turn out to be a success. Support local business!