Four Days of International Debates at Cheese 2017

Raw milk, natural starter cultures, animal welfare and climate change: The eleventh edition of Cheese, in Bra, Italy, from September 15 to 18, 2017, offers a program of conferences dedicated to crucial issues in the dairy sector. This politically charged event turns the spotlight onto the farmers, herders, cheesemakers and dairy experts who have chosen to go against the mainstream, choosing to preserve biodiversity and naturalness.

The inauguration of the 2017 edition, at 10.30 am on Friday September 15, will see the announcement of the winners of the Slow Cheese Award, which Slow Food presents to farmers and artisan cheesemakers from around the world who have distinguished themselves for their passion, dedication and commitment to quality.

Also on Friday, at 2.30 pm, another important event will launch Cheese 2017: The State of Raw Milk. Slow Food has invited producers, experts and journalists to reflect on some important questions: Where are with the battle for raw milk? Could an international network of producers be created, and how? From Italy to the US, France to the Balkans, we’ll hear the experiences and reflections of those who have chosen this challenging path.

In Raw in the USA, the Slow Food network in the United States will be hosting a discussion on raw-milk cheeses made by producers who have spent over a decade passionately overcoming challenges and obstacles in a country where the culture of raw milk struggles to be accepted. They’ll share their stories and talk with their European colleagues about American originals versus New World versions of Old World classics. 

A new and complex topic of vital importance will be tackled in The Natural Challenge. The majority of cheeses are made using industrially selected starter cultures that are gradually wiping out natural cultures. This means losing biodiversity, the link with the land and taste, because the cultures in packets inevitably tend to flatten and standardize the flavor of the cheese.

In No More Nitrites and Nitrates the challenge of the natural extends to cured meats. Today the use of these additives is taken for granted, forgetting that cured meats were produced for centuries using only natural preservatives like salt, pepper, chili, spices and smoke. We’ll hear from producers from the Slow Food network in Sweden and some Italian cured meat Presidia.

An event on Saturday dedicated to animal welfare shouldn’t be missed: To Raise Animals, or Live With Them? An animal’s diet plays a crucial role in the quality of its milk, and if the animal is happy, its milk will be of better quality. Can we still allow ourselves to see animals as no more than instruments of production? What is the impact of the stress caused by insufficient space, a lack of grazing, mutilations and bad management practices?

The relationship between humans and animals is important, but so too is our relationship with the land and the soil. And yet taste, like a food’s nutritional properties, comes from the land, and is connected to the soil’s microbiota. This is the subject of Sunday’s conference, Terroir on the Plate: A New Agriculture Is Necessary for Healthier Food.

In Good Milk Comes From the Grass, Slow Food is launching a new project to promote those who produce milk starting from locally grown hay and pasture, shunning concentrated feeds, corn silage, imported hay and genetically modified soy.

In Italy the recent earthquakes have devastated the livelihoods of small-scale herders and producers in the Marche and Abruzzo. In the marginal areas of the Apennines, many businesses have been awaiting assistance for over a year, while workshops are closing and flocks are being sold. In The Apennines We’re Losing, Cheese asks what politicians and consumers can do to stem the tide and create a stronger network with producers.

Slow Food and the Italian Meteorological Society will be presenting the initial results of an important study analyzing the impact of the milk production chain on climate change in The Climate Is Changing, and So Must Our Production Models. Global warming is also one of the causes behind the current wave of migrations, and in Italy many new arrivals are finding employment in the dairy sector. Migrant Milks will evaluate the extent of this phenomenon.

Slow Food has launched a direct consultation of all the producers in its network in seven European countries, in order to find out their opinion about the policies that concern them and the challenges they face. The first results of the consultation will be analyzed during the conference From the CAP to Hygiene Rules: Needs of Small-Scale Producers in the EU.

The global market favors the concentration of production and the high-quality cheese production sector is also being affected by this trend. In France, multinationals are buying up historic cheese brands, bulwarks of local dairy traditions, while in the Balkans and the Caucasus those who want to save traditional cheeses are still looking at the PDO scheme with hope. The Future of PDO in the Hands of Giants will reflect on denominations of origin, the role of consortia and production protocols.

On Monday, a conference will be dedicated to CETA (CETA: Yes or No?), the global trade agreement between Europe and Canada which has been a major point of discussion for months now among governments, businesses and local authorities.

How do we measure the quality of milk and what separates cheeses with a lower level of aromatic and nutritional complexity from those which express these qualities best? Within this range, where do we place heat treatment, pasteurization and the use of commercial starter cultures? How Do We Measure the Quality of Milk and Cheese will seek to determine if dairy quality can be established using objective methods.

Lastly, Sunday will see the presentation of the Good Cheesemonger Awards (“Locali del Buon Formaggio”) a recognition dating from 1997 to promote shops, restaurants, retailers and osterias that offer a range of cheeses in line with the Slow philosophy.

Visit for the full program and for the venues, dates and times of all the conferences.

Click here to request press accreditation.

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.

The eleventh edition of Cheese, the biennial event dedicated to all things dairy that has created an international network of cheesemakers and artisans, will be held from September 15 to 18, 2017 in Bra, Piedmont, Italy.


For more information:

Slow Food International Press Office

[email protected], [email protected] +39 0172 419 645 – Twitter: @SlowFoodPress

City of Bra

Elena Martini and Erica Asselle, +39 0172 438278, [email protected]


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.




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