The 2017 edition of Cheese, the international biennial celebration of high-quality, artisanal dairy products organized by Slow Food and the City of Bra, will be built around the theme of raw milk.
From its inception in 1997, Cheese has stood alongside producers who fought against the mainstream by choosing to work with raw instead of pasteurized milk. In 2001, Slow Food produced the Manifesto in Defense of Raw Milk Cheese, while last year a campaign was launched in support of Joe Schneider, one of England’s finest cheesemakers, and his raw-milk Stilton.
“The truth is that the possibility of producing raw-milk cheeses in the world can’t be taken for granted,” says Piero Sardo, president of the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity and Cheese’s scientific advisor. “Through Cheese and the determination of the French producers, raw-milk cheeses are now a reality beyond doubt for European institutions—even though many countries still have more restrictive national legislation than EU regulations. In the rest of the world, from the United States to Australia, these excellent products are banned, or only allowed with severe restrictions, such as a minimum aging of 60 days, for example. Whoever decides to produce in compliance with the norms will have a hard life, with endless controls and threats to production. Because raw milk is considered dangerous, they live in fear of persecution by the authorities.”
The State of Raw Milk, the opening conference of Cheese, wants to reaffirm Slow Food’s political position. After 20 years of battles, such as the one against the use of powdered milk for cheese production in 2015, Cheese will serve as a platform for an international network of producers to share their experiences and ideas. “Our intent is to meet these people and to create a worldwide network of political, technical and economic support for these products. We want to defend the legitimacy of raw milk outside the European Union countries too,” continues Piero Sardo.
The opening conference, to be held on September 15 at 2.30pm at the Teatro Politeama, will hear from a number of raw-milk cheese producers from all over the world: Carlos Yescas from the United States, Guvener Isik from Turkey, Kent Ruiz from Cuba and Peter Thomas from Ireland, to name just a few. Piero Sardo will moderate the event, while Carlo Petrini will give an introductory speech before the conference starts.
Today pasteurization is the norm. Though it destroys the pathogenic bacteria present in milk, it also destroys the beneficial bacteria, turning the milk into a neutral, lifeless food and depriving it of its original flora, resulting in anonymous cheeses with no ties to the land. Raw milk is not subject to any heat treatment and is the only type of milk that can ensure cheeses reflect the landscape that made them, the characteristics of the native dairy breeds and the work of herders and cheesemakers. Raw-milk cheeses are more complex, more interesting and more authentic expressions of their place of origin.
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Slow Food is a global grassroots organization that envisions a world in which all people can access and enjoy food that is good for them, good for those who grow it and good for the planet. Slow Food involves over a million activists, chefs, experts, youth, farmers, fishers and academics in over 160 countries. Among them, a network of around 100,000 Slow Food members are linked to 1,500 local chapters worldwide, contributing through their membership fee, as well as the events and campaigns they organize. As part of the network, more than 2,400 Terra Madre food communities practice small-scale and sustainable production of quality food around the world.
Cheese, the international biennial event organized by Slow Food and the City of Bra, will be held in Bra (Italy) from September 15 to 18, 2017. Dedicated to milk in all its shapes and forms, the event has led to the formation of an international network of cheesemakers and dairy artisans, and is currently on its eleventh edition.
Cheese 2017 has been made possible by the support of companies who believe in the future of the quality dairy sector, including the Official Partners: Cassa di Risparmio di Bra, Egea, Lurisia, Consorzio Parmigiano Reggiano, Pastificio Di Martino, Quality Beer Academy and Velier. Official Sparkling Wine: Consorzio Alta Langa