Yesterday, Cheese 2001 opened strong with one of the best conferences of its type that I have ever attended. I say this with no false modesty, as I say it as a compliment to the top-flight researchers and producers from Italy, France, the United States, England, and Portugal who made the speeches and tastings of the conference so memorable.
Dedicated to the production of raw milk cheeses, the conference promoted the recognition of these products as important cultural goods that represent the heritage of a country. As the conference closed yesterday, the tangible world of raw milk cheese was unfolding outside the walls of the auditorium. In the public squares of Bra, 160 producers from 30 nations set up stands to show and sell their cheeses. The Great Hall of Cheese also opened its doors, giving participants the chance to taste all of the DOP and IGP cheeses of Europe together with wines from throughout Europe. Stands filled with rare foods crowded the “street of the Presidi,” where expositors showed cheeses at risk of extinction.
Cheese 2001 opened strong and will continue to be strong because there is really no more time for half-measures and tentative moves. With promotion, and the education and formation of the consumer, we can defend high-quality foods and the producers who make them. The consumers are showing us their interest and enthusiasm in these foods by flooding Bra. The want to understand, to taste, and to learn to distinguish; they ask for nothing else. They are ready and willing to pay more for a high-quality artisan food than they would for a food mass-produced by a multi-national company. Cheese 2001 has started well. We see great themes and great debates on the table, alongside the most grandious and beautiful cheese plate the heart could desire.