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. As ever, Cheese is a platform where we give a voice to herders, and share their stories with the world.


Herders perform a precious task, and nobody knows the biodiversity of the meadows and pastures better than they do: this biodiversity sustains their animals, and determines the flavors and aromas of their milk. This is the theme of Cheese 2023: The Taste of the Meadows.

Through their work, 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 2023

At Cheese 2023 you can meet herders for yourself, taste their products and hear their stories:

  • among the Slow Food Presidia, many of whom make cheese during the summer pasturing period with the milk from grazing;
  • in activities from Taste Workshops to the Biodiversity House, where herders will offer tastings of their cheeses and tell their stories, an insight into what a fruitful relationship between humans and animals can look like, as well as the essence of a living landscape.

Cheese 2023 is organized by Slow Food and the City of Bra from September 15-18. See you there! #Cheese2023

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