Friday 18 April 2014

A hamper you can't refuse - Christmas fare from Mafia farms

THEY are Christmas hampers with a uniquely Italian twist -- boxes full of wine, olive oil, honey and other treats, but all produced from farmland confiscated from mafia clans.

As Italians finish the last of their festive shopping this year, the unusual hampers are proving a hit and dealing a symbolic blow against organised crime.

The hampers are sold by Libera Terra, or Liberated Land, an anti-mafia group that takes over farmland confiscated from convicted mafiosi and uses it to produce a range of goods, from organic wine to honey, macadamia nuts and virgin olive oil.

While the mafia may be more readily associated with extortion, drug trafficking and prostitution in Italy's towns and cities, it has started laundering money by investing in agriculture in recent years.

Mafia groups now make about €14.3bn a year from agricultural enterprises -- a 12pc rise in two years.

Nearly a quarter of mafia properties confiscated by the Italian authorities are farms, and up to 15pc of all farming in Italy now has some links to organised crime.

Founded in 1995, Libera Terra now cultivates land across southern Italy. The Christmas hampers, which cost between €14 and €65, are sold from seven Libera Terra shops around Italy and online and can be shipped overseas. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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