From September 18 to 21, the streets of the small town of Bra in northern Italy (home of the Slow Food movement) will once again be taken over by cheesemakers, shepherds, academics, journalists and cheese lovers from across the world.
The event (and the website) was officially launched today during a press conference held in Bra. Speaking at the event Carlo Petrini, Slow Food International President told the audience “Biodiversity is the strongest creative force in the world, and our event Cheese is the culmination of this idea: diversity not standardization!”
This year takes a focus on products from the fragile ecosystems of the mountains. Cheesemakers who live and work every day in Europe’s mountains are facing a critical situation. Post-war industrial development depleted a large part of the population and many traditional cheesemaking activities have since stopped. Along with them, links between local communities and their environments have been severed – such as the abandonment of many pastures – and the transmission of precious knowledge has been compromised.
Yet the mountains are still home to an incredible heritage of cheeses. The animals’ diet of biodiversity-rich pastures, the possibility of processing freshly milked raw milk, the practice of transhumance (season migration to summer pastures), plus the use of artisanal techniques create products of extraordinary quality. What’s more, it is often the producers themselves who protect these fragile environments, looking after mountain dairies and pastures, shaping characteristic landscapes and taking care of the land for the entire community.
The event Cheese aims to bring this issue down to the plains, where the four-day event will explore the problems and solutions through a program of conferences, debates, meetings, Taste Workshops and more. An exhibition space will also be dedicated to displaying the wealth of food biodiversity that is still safeguarded in mountain communities: mountain herbs, breads, liquors, wines, jams, legumes, fruits and more, as well as a dining experience for mountain cuisine.
Like all Slow Food events, Cheese is a moment to bring together the pleasure of good food with an awareness and responsibility towards the related issues, such as animal welfare, sustainable management of landscapes, milk quotas and immigrants in the sector. Spain will be the official country of focus this edition, with a staggering number of cheeses available for tasting, showing visitors that there’s more than Manchego.
“With over 200 varieties of cheese products, Spain will be the guest of honor at Cheese 2015,” explained Piero Sardo, President of the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity.
Find out more on the event website here: cheese.slowfood.com
Follow all updates on social media using the hashtag: #Cheese2015