What Is at Stake When We Talk About Raw Milk?

The State of Raw Milk: After 20 years of struggle, we’re sending a strong political signal. We are going to create a network of producers who continue to make raw milk cheese, despite the difficulties.

From its inception, Cheese has stood alongside producers who went against the current by choosing to work with raw milk instead of pasteurized. Raw milk was the theme of the 1997 edition, and we have never abandoned it.

In 2001, we signed the Manifesto for the protection of raw milk, while last year we conducted a campaign in defense of Joe Schneider, one of England’s finest cheesemakers, and his raw milk Stichelton.

Production of raw milk Stilton, Slow Food Presidium, UK

This year the topic of raw milk returns with even more strength, with a marketplace that, for the first time, features exclusively raw milk cheeses, and a full afternoon spared to discuss why: Friday, September 15th, from 2:30 pm to 6 pm, at the The State of Raw Milk.

We discussed the topic with Piero Sardo, president of the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity and the scientific manager of Cheese. “The truth is that the possibility of producing raw milk cheeses in the world can’t be taken for granted. 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 productions of excellence are forbidden, or only allowed with severe restrictions, including a minimum aging of 60 days, for example.”



“Whoever decides to produce complying 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. That is why we are opening Cheese on the Friday afternoon with The State of Raw Milk, to reaffirm our political position. Our intent is to meet these people, 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,” Sardo continues, who has supported other battles in the name of Cheese over the last twenty years, such as the HACCP in 1999 and the use of powdered milk for cheese production in 2015.

Aging of raw milk Stichelton, Slow Food Presidium, UK

“When we talk about raw milk, there are three issues at stake: The first and most important is freedom, because it is not acceptable that you can not eat what you want. If the safety conditions are respected by producers and the checks are well done, as in Italy for example, everyone should be free to buy and eat what they want. The second issue concerns the production model we want to support with our purchases, because the use of raw milk is necessarily an expression of small handicraft production, which is the forebear of excellence.

The last point is about biodiversity, which when we talk about cheese, it is not limited just to animal breeds or the types of grazing pasture, but the billions of bacteria that, with pasteurization and other types of heat treatments, are exterminated. Raw milk cheese is alive, rich in natural bacteria, which not only give it flavor and complex aroma and character, but as more and more scientists are finding, they also provide many benefits to our health,” Sardo concludes.

So here’s to Cheese, and here’s to The State of Raw Milk.

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