During its biennial Cheese festival, the city of Bra is an ideal place not just to taste and discover new cheeses, but also find out more about the world of dairy and hear from many people from all over the world who have dedicated their lives to pastures, milk and cheeses. This year’s program features 10 Milk Workshops, held this year at the Slow Food stand, where experts and the public will be exploring and debating some of the critical issues around the world of cheese and dairy. Here are a few highlights.
With growing meat consumption being met by intensive factory farms, the question “Who Cares About Animal Welfare?” is more relevant than ever. This conference will hear from experts, representatives from international institutions, farmers and consumers to try to understand how meat consumption can be made sustainable and what solutions can be adopted to protect animal welfare.
Friday September 20, 2 pm
Tunisia, Greece, Egypt, Lebanon and Sicily will be the focus of “History, Culture and Flavors of the Mediterranean,” dedicated to the Mediterranean basin and exploring the stories and traditions shared by these five countries. They are all involved in the European project Lactimed, which aims to foster the production and distribution of typical and innovative dairy products in the Mediterranean by organizing local value chains, supporting producers in their development projects and creating new markets for their products. The Milk Workshop will conclude with a tasting of traditional Sicilian cheeses.
Friday September 20, 4.30 pm
Life in the mountains has long been hard, and in “The Mountain Lives, If Great Cheeses Do,” we’ll hear about the environmental, economic and social impact of the Presidia located in mountainous regions of Europe, still home to many of the continent’s best cheeses. Herders and young cheesemakers living in the mountains will share their stories, and we’ll taste some new mountain Presidia cheeses.
Saturday September 21, 11 am
A presentation of the ESSEDRA project and an analysis of the problems faced by herders and cheesemakers in the Balkans will be the focus of “Eastward, the Treasures Hidden in the Balkans.” The European ESSEDRA project aims to support countries from the Balkan area (Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Macedonia, Romania and Serbia) and Turkey in the European integration process, strengthening and giving a voice to organizations who work in agriculture, rural development and food quality so as to improve environmental protection and safeguard biodiversity and the well-being of local communities. The project will work to promote traditional food products from the participating countries, and most importantly to promote European policies that support small-scale producers.
The conference will conclude with a tasting of cheeses from the eight countries who belong to the project, and the launch of a number of new Presidia from the region.
Sunday September 22, 2 pm
The discussion during “What Do Bees Have to do With Cheese?” will look at big grain monocultures and how they are the only way to meet the feed needs of big factory animal farms, the main source of milk for large-scale cheese production. The topic demands a careful analysis, given that monocultures often mean the widespread use of synthetic chemicals, water and pesticides. This open debate wants to promote the production of artisanal cheeses, made with quality milk from animals who spend most of their lives grazing on pastures rich in grasses and flowers, which in turn reproduce thanks to the work of bees and which allow the bees to live.
Sunday September 22, 4.30 pm
Many more issues will be up for discussion at Cheese 2013, like the role of starter cultures in quality cheesemaking, pastures as a resource to be protected and the value of raw milk in making excellent cheeses. At cheese.slowfood.it/en you can see the whole program of Milk Workshops, which are all free, subject to availability of places.