Herders

It’s one of the oldest jobs in the world, and one of the most undervalued: little known, considered humble, anti-modern, and above all, badly paid.

Commercial pressure risks wiping out pastoralism altogether, especially where herders sell their milk and don’t use it to make cheese.

THE HERDER’S WORK

Slow Food believes that herders perform a precious task, because they:

  • safeguard their lands, maintain mountain pastures and aid the growth of a wide variety of plants
  • know the plants that their animals eat, recognize dangerous herbs and the plants best-suited for their animals’ welfare and milk quality
  • know the strengths and weaknesses of the breeds they work with, with which other breeds they should be crossed, recognize which specimens are best-adapted for healthy and prolific reproduction
  • recognize healthy animals and often know how to cure sick ones
  • know how to train dogs and defend their animals from wolves and bad weather

Often, as well as grazing their animals, herders make cheese every day, or even twice a day, salting, turning, cleaning and selling it.

Far from having a simple job, a successful herder must be a veterinarian, a forest ranger, a cheesemaker, and a merchant.

HERDERS AT CHEESE 2019

At Cheese 2019 you can meet herders for yourself, taste their products and hear their stories:

  • in the Presidia Street (Via dei Presidi) between Via Principi and Via Audisio, many of whom make cheese during the summer pasturing period with the milk from grazing
  • in the Natural is Possible space (Piazza Valfrè di Bonzo), dedicated to small-scale producers and family-run businesses who raise animals extensively, working with the raw milk from their own animals in an artisanal manner and who produce cheeses without selected started cultures, or with self-produced starters
  • in the High Ground area run by the Piedmont Region, dedicated to the mountains as an agricultural resource, where sustainable pastoralism provides hope and livelihood, and as a destination for a new, respectful form of tourism which seeks authentic contact with local culture
  • among the protagonists of Cheese, we are highlighting the pastoral cheese production of Sardinia, who are living through a period of crisis. In this relatively small region around three million Sarda sheep are raised, all for their high-quality milk. The average quality of Sardinian cheeses has however been trivialized by overproduction, which weighs heavily on the balances of small cooperatives, and breaks links with individual production areas. At Cheese we will give a voice to their stories and experiences.