Netherlands at Cheese 2009
25 Jun 09
Netherlands will be featued in the seventh Cheese with Aged Artisan Gouda, a Slow Food Presidium that will have an exhibition space in Via Principi di Piemonte, the street dedicated to showcasing protection, promotion, consultation and support projects put into practice by the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity in Italy and abroad.
The town of Gouda became a central cheese market in the seventeenth century, and the first weighing rights were granted in 1668. Farmers and traders were obliged to weigh their cheeses here and taxes were imposed. Records from that time show that at least a million kilos of farmstead cheese were traded that year. In the northern parts of the Netherlands, dairy cooperatives took over cheese production from individual farmers in the late 1800s. Fortunately, the Gouda cheesemakers resisted this trend, and traditional farmstead cheesemaking has persisted till today. Some 300 farmers in The Netherlands, most of them in the Gouda region, still produce raw milk farmstead cheese (called boerenkaas). Their numbers are shrinking due to the expansion of urban areas, increased production costs, hygiene restrictions and the abundance of cheap pasteurized imitations. Boeren-Goudse Oplegkaas, as Aged Artisan Gouda is called in Dutch, is made from raw milk only during the summer season, when cows are grazed on the open pastures of the peat meadows or polders of the Green Hart region, between the cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht. Boeren-Goudse Oplegkaas cheeses must age for at least two years but can age up to four years (opleg means \'aged\' in Dutch).
The producers are currently seeking to phase out the use of substances on the rind that control molds. In the Netherlands, farmstead cheesemakers have depended for centuries on wholesalers who age the cheeses and resell them without citing the name of the producer. Slow Food is working to offer an alternative by organizing a fairer way of commercialization. Producers and Slow Food promote the aged Boeren-Goudse Oplegkaas directly to consumers.
Green Hart Region, between the cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht
Tel +31 10 4678762