Processed products refer to cheeses, cured meats, breads, desserts, beverages, preserves and so on, which have evolved in order to conserve food (milk, meat, fish, cereals, fruit). These numerous products are fruit of knowledge handed down over generations in every corner of the world, the result of creativity and skill. The smallest variations can result in very different foods - think of the thousands of types of cheeses that have come out of the same three ingredients (milk, rennet, salt), or cured meats, where at times the only difference is the cut of meat, a spice or the type of wood used for smoking. Artisanal processing techniques allow the creation of particular products that are able to, more so than the raw materials alone, narrate a local culture and protect producers from fluctuations in the seasons and market.
Often a plant variety or local breed can be saved by giving value to and promoting related processed products (saving a type of cheese or cured meat can save a breed, saving a type of bread could save a variety of wheat, etc.) Slow Food considers processed products indicators of biodiversity along with breeds, seeds and domestic or wild species.