Cheese 2023 takes a step further to protect dairy biodiversity around the world
16 Sep 2023 | English
Three new products launched during the Slow Food event
Cheese has always been a perfect occasion to present new Presidia Slow Food, which unite
groups of producers committed to preserving food biodiversity and passing on traditional production techniques and crafts, caring for the environment and landscapes, places, local economies and cultures.
For years Slow Food has been working to spread awareness of the value of raw milk, that is milk that, after milking, is neither pasteurized nor thermalized. A milk that preserves nutrients, vitamins, milk enzymes and that transfers to the cheeses the aromas and scents of the herbs and flowers of the territory on which the animals have fed. “Raising awareness of and promoting natural, raw-milk cheeses, according to Slow Food, means supporting the work of shepherds, cheesemakers and refiners, and at the same time combating the standardization of production practices and the homogenization of flavors for which the dairy industry, accustomed to using pasteurized milk and industrial ferments, is responsible”, comments Francesco Sottile, Slow Food Board member. “The diversity of cheeses, derived from skillful man-made processing, is a suitable element to strengthen the ecosystem balance, being an instrument of value of the production chain in which each element plays an essential role. Thus, balance and respect for the environment are essential to make producers feel supported in their daily work and challenges, from climate to marketing”.
Globally, there are over 100 Slow Food Presidia dedicated to dairy products, making them one of the most represented categories in this project. These rare and magnificent creations reflect the heritage of pastures, animal breeds, milks, and manual skills. This year we welcome four new Slow Food Presidia.
Bleu de Queyras – France
The origin of the blue-veined mountain cheese Bleu du Queyras rooted back on isolated alpine farms in the north of the today Hautes-Alpes département, in the Southern part of France, at the border with the Italian Alps. Initially crafted and consumed only locally in particular in the area surrounding the Queyras massif, from which it took the name, the cheese started to be produced in many dairy farms of the area in the Mid-19th century, reaching the far away markets of the North of Africa.
The Bleu du Queyras is made from the milk of Tarines, Abondance and Montbéliardes cow breeds, raised on mountain pastures of the eastern Hautes-Alpes, including also the massifs and valleys of Briançonnais, Embrunais, Champsaur and Valgaudemar. The cows are fed only on fresh grass, hay from meadows and plants, excluding any type of sillage from their diets. Milking takes place in the morning and evening, both of these milks are used for cheese production. At the beginning of the 20th century, Bleu du Queyras production dropped dramatically, partly due to the growth of the dairy industry, which started to buy a big portion of the milk production of these areas, leaving almost none for artisanal cheese-making. The creation of the Presidium stems precisely from the need to support artisanal producers in safeguarding this dairy product, and to help restore farm-based production of Bleu du Queyras to its former glory.
Tomme de la Brigue – France
Tomme de la Brigue is a soft or semi hard cheese traditionally associated with the Brigasque sheep, a breed that takes its name from the village of La Brigue in the Roya Valley in the Alpes-Maritimes. This geographical region at the border with Italy is characterized by breathtaking natural beauty, green valleys and imposing mountains that create an ideal environment for cheese production. The Brigasque sheep was widely distributed in France and Italy prior to 1960, until it had slowly declined. It is now recognized by the European Union as a breed in danger of extinction even though since 2010 it has been enjoying a renewed interest in order to maintain the biodiversity of the area.
The Brigasque sheep is raised in extensive pastoral systems, relying largely on mountain pastures and rangelands. The production of Tomme de la Brigue is a practice rooted in the local community, with many producers following methods and recipes handed down from generation to generation. The Presidium wants to help producers and herders who play a crucial role in protecting and safeguarding the natural environment.
“These two Presidia represent the values of tradition, collaboration and love for the land. The Bleu, with its centuries-old history and a recovery of the original flavors, and the Tomme with the desire to reach out across borders, to producers of the Italian counterpart. As per tradition, Cheese becomes the perfect time to meet and look to the future together”, comments Nicolas Floret, President of the Fromages Naturels de France Association.
Cacio di Genazzano – Italy
A cheese produced around Rome with a centuries-old history, the oldest mentions of which date back to the 17th century, when this cheese was also used as a currency of exchange. But more than anything else, the Cacio di Genazzano has long been an important food resource for farming families who have handed down, generation after generation, the methods of its preparation. Consumption was limited almost exclusively to the family level, which, over time, drastically reduced its commercial availability, until it almost disappeared.
The extraordinariness of Genazzano cheese thus lies precisely in the way the environment, climate and natural pasture are found in the milk. This is a richness that the producers are committed to preserving: «For the past year they have been converting the pastures into meadows rich in natural essences, precious for soil biodiversity and important in animal nutrition,» explains the Presidium’s Slow Food representative, Loris Pergolini.
Fodom – Italy
A typical cheese from the municipality of Livinallongo del Col di Lana in Northern Italy, whose name derives from the Ladin idiom corresponding to one of the hamlets in the municipality, it is made from raw milk from three milkings, two in the morning and one in the evening, partly with whole milk and partly skimmed by natural creaming. It is a cheese made from milk produced from grasses and hay mowed on the most arduous slopes of the Belluno Dolomites. Producers struggle daily with the effects of climate change, which with great droughts and heavy rains makes forage supply difficult, and the abandonment of the trade by farmers.
Cheese 2023 is organized by Slow Food and the City of Bra, with the support of the Piedmont Region and numerous entities that believe in the project, starting with Main Partners BBBell, BPER Banca, Confartigianato Cuneo, eViso, Parmigiano Reggiano, Pastificio Di Martino, Quality Beer Academy, Reale Mutua. In Kind Partners Liebherr, Bormioli Luigi and Bormioli Rocco, Acqua S. Bernardo. Green partners are Palm Green Pallet, Pool Pack and Ricrea. Area Partners: Baratti&Milano and Pepino. Media partner is TabUi. The event is realized with contributions from Fondazione CRC and Fondazione CRT, ATL Langhe Monferrato Roero, Cuneo Chamber of Commerce and Ascom Bra. Cultural partner is the Central Institute for Intangible Heritage.
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