Tamara Schiopu is a biologist, nutritionist, an expert in agricultural marketing and author of several books with recipes. Although, for several years now, she resides in the UK, Tamara Schiopu regularly visits Moldova, where she takes in such campaigns as Eco Local and the Vegan Show Fair. For the column "Points of View" Madein.md team made an interview with Mrs. Schiopu on local products, their quality and her personal preferences.

To a foreign person I would recommend seasonal fruits such as strawberries and sweet cherries.

Tamara Schiopu

What is the last domestic product you bought?

A few minutes ago, I had a delicious lunch and tried a sandwich with fresh arugula, grown here in Moldova. This green is popular all over the world, but unfortunately it is not present in the registry of domestic crops.

What Moldovan product would you recommend to a foreigner?

I would recommend to a foreign person any local, seasonal product. I would never advise someone to buy, for example, a tomato that was not grown in nature or any other product of that kind. And since now it is the season of strawberries and cherries, I would recommend to a foreign person who is currently in Moldova, to try these fruits.

How would you rate the quality of local products compared to imported ones?

In any country there are high quality products and so-called mass products. Artisan products (in this case we talk about fruits and vegetables) are grown in small quantities, with care for the soil and with the will to conserve the biological diversity, while there are many products manufactured in large volumes, grown for profit, which a lower in quality. This situation is typical for any state.

If we talk about the processed products, major manufacturers have all the resources necessary for high-quality processing and packaging of their products,  while smaller companies have many difficulties in this matter. Often, they produce high-quality products that are very tasty, contain many nutrients but do not have the appropriate commercial image, are often stored inappropriatly, factors that degrade their quality. The quality of a products should be considered as a wide range of elements and characteristics.

I see improvements in the quality of Moldovan products, primarily due to a more intensive dialogue between producers and consumers.

Tamara Schiopu

How do you assess the quality/ price ratio of Moldovan products?

I think this ratio is fair. Of course, there are times when low-quality products are sold at a much higher price, and those of high quality and are sold at low prices, but in this case, the main reason is the ratio between supply and demand.

What Moldovan products have you seen during your visits in other countries?

The last time I saw Moldovan nuts in a luxury UK supermarket. Also in this shop they sell the English chocolate "Green and Black" - a product of very high quality. One of the varieties of this chocolate contained Moldovan sweet cherries. I know the owner of this business and he told me that these cherries were Hancesti and were Eco certified.

I also saw several Moldovan wines, but unfortunately they was not of the highest quality: it was a wine for masses, fortified with a high content of sugar and alcohol, and they were sold in stores for migrants. Probably, these wines were exported before to the eastern countries.

In recent years, have you seen any changes in the quality of domestic products?

Yes, I see a change for the better and not necessarily due to the fact that manufacturers have become richer, or are investing more in technology, but primarily through a more intensive dialogue between them and consumers. The local exhibitions and fairs that are held more often, are helping the producers to communicate directly with customers and get their feedback in order to improve their production in the future.

I think that it would be appropriate to grow in Moldova legumes such as lentils, beans or pumpkin, as they are in great demand in Europe.

Tamara Șchiopu

What is your favorite Moldovan wine?

I prefer dry wines and champagne. My favorite varieties are Pinot Gris and Feteasca.

Do you think that Moldova can become an important manufacturer of organic and ecological agriculture?

Inside the country - yes, but on international level it would be much more difficult. I think it is wrong that Moldovan authorities promote and highlight products such as wine, fruit and vegetables. In this sphere there is a huge international competition. I think it would be appropriate to grow in Moldova legumes such as lentils, beans or pumpkin, which are supported by our soils and are very useful for biodiversity and health. In addition, they are in great demand in Europe.

Living away from the country, in the UK, what Moldovan product you miss the most?

The cornmeal (maize meal). This is a very good and healthy product, and besides, I really like mamaliga. Every time I come to Moldova, I buy 2-3 kg of maize meal and take it with me to Great Britain.