Raw Milk

Cheese 2017 puts raw milk at the center of debate.

The goal is to explain why it is essential to defend raw milk cheeses, the subject of one the first international Slow Food campaigns and many battles fought alongside small-scale producers all over the world.

This edition of Cheese aims to launch a raw milk movement and plan its future actions.

Talking about raw milk makes more sense than ever.

Montébore, Slow Food Presidium. Made from raw milk—75% cow’s, 25% sheep’s—Montébore can be eaten fresh, semi-aged (15 days) or aged, when it is usually grated.

• Because raw milk cheeses are better.

Raw milk cheese is a wonderful food, an authentic expression of one of the greatest gastronomic traditions. It is an art, a lifestyle, a cultural heritage and beloved landscape that is in danger of extinction. It embodies values in stark contrast with the sterilization and homogenization of mass produced food.

Raw milk is not subject to any heat treatment – that is, it isn’t heated to a temperature above 40° C. It is the only type of milk that can give cheeses the aromas of the landscape they come from, the herbs, flowers, the characteristics of the native breeds and the work of shepherds and cheesemaker. Raw milk cheeses are more complex, more interesting, and more authentic expressions of their territory.

  • Because raw milk cheese is strongly connected to its territory.

Orobiche Valleys Traditional Stracchino, Slow Food Presidium. The name stracchino seems to have come from the dialect word “stracch” (tired), and refers to the cheese that used to be made during stops along the transhumance routes, using small amounts of whole milk drawn from the cows who were exhausted from the journey. Ph. Alberto Peroli.

Today, pasteurization is the norm. Though it aims to destroy the pathogenic bacteria present in milk, it also destroys the beneficial bacteria, turning the milk into a neutral, lifeless food, depriving it of its original flora, resulting in anonymous cheeses with no ties to the land, cheeses that can be replicated everywhere.

Most commercial cheeses are pasteurized. Raw milk cheese, however, has strong ties to its territory, but is not favored by the market or the law. In many countries, raw milk is prohibited or restricted, meaning producers aren’t free to make traditional raw milk cheeses and consumers aren’t free to choose for themselves.

  • Because raw milk cheese is an expression of biodiversity.

Biodiversity is not just about vegetable or animal varieties. In the case of cheese, there is an invisible but important biodiversity represented by the billions of bacteria which are being slowly exterminated by the ubiquity of pasteurization and other heat treatments.

Basque Pyrenees Mountain Cheeses, Slow Food Presidium. The pressed, uncooked-curd cheeses, of varying weight and size, are made from raw, full-fat sheep’s milk. Ph. Marco del Comune.

On the contrary, raw milk cheeses are alive, rich in natural bacteria that contribute to their overall flavor and complexity. As scientists are continuing to prove, they also have many benefits for our health.

For all these reasons, we chose “Raw Milk” as the framework we’re building this edition of Cheese around: the conferences, the market (which will host exclusively raw milk cheeses for the first time), and the grand opening of the event, where we’ll giving a platform to all the producers coming to Bra to share their experiences, the challenges they face, and to propose solutions and visions for the future. 

The State of Raw Milk is the essence of Cheese this year, and you are all invited to participate from Friday the 15th of September, starting at 2:30pm.

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