What Cheese Will You Save?

The next edition of Cheese – Slow Food’s biennial festival celebrating artisanal cheese from around the world – is set to be an important moment, for the movement, for food biodiversity and for endangered dairy products.

Taking place from September 20 – 23 in Bra, Italy, the international event reflects the direction of the movement. First it brought to light the half-hidden world of dairy products; then it launched a vigorous campaign defending raw milk cheese production; now it is raising its voice in defense of small, marginalized producers.

The focus of the 2013 edition of Cheese event is endangered foods. Through the Ark of Taste – a project to catalog traditional foods at risk of disappearing – Slow Food is working to protect food biodiversity and save products that could be lost altogether. The current catalog already includes several dairy products, but there are many more that need protecting; along with the traditional knowledge, techniques, cultures and landscapes behind their production.

The Ark of Taste will dock at Cheese to raise awareness of the problems facing small-scale traditional cheese production. And we decided that the best way to raise public awareness of the issue was to ask visitors and Slow Food supporters to become active protagonists of the event.

“Save a cheese” became the slogan, and we are inviting you to nominate a dairy product you want to save. Whether you are coming to the event or not, we invite you to hunt down these endangered cheeses: investigate the products in your area, remember a cheese you ate with their family twenty or thirty years ago or think about someone you know who still raises animals and has a creamery. Then nominate it for the Ark of Taste. If you are coming to the event, all discoveries, or rediscoveries, are welcome: just pick up a sample and bring it to Bra!

At the event, there will be a space dedicated to these new arrivals. Here the cheeses will be sampled, cataloged and exhibited. This won’t be a scientific collection, but rather a “living” exhibition of the wide variety of cheeses that are still produced all over the world.

The level of response will not only mark the success of the event, but also confirm that those who know and love these products will act to defend them. Cheese will set the tone for our ongoing fight: for cheese, for good, clean and fair food and for small-scale producers. Nominate the future you want.

For more information on bringing your cheese to Cheese, contact Alessandra Turco at [email protected]

Adapted from the article published in La Stampa on September 9, 2013.

Piero Sardo is the President of the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity.

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