23 September 2019

Slow Food promotes a natural system of food production at Cheese 2019 and welcomes the UN’s Climate Action Summit

Slow Food draws conclusions on the event on the same day as the Climate Action Summit in New York

Today, September 23rd, the 12th edition of Cheese, the world’s most important event dedicated to raw milk cheeses and artisanal dairy products, closes in Bra, Italy, while leaders from government, business, and civil society discuss potentially far-reaching steps to address climate change at the United Nations Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit in New York.

According to the UN, the world needs to increase its efforts to contain global heating to a 1.5°C global temperature increase—as recommend by the IPCC—and avoid escalating climate damage already taking place around the world. That is what Slow Food is doing every day through activities and projects organized by its global network of activists; notably over the last four days in the program of conferences and discussions held at Cheese. Throughout the event, Slow Food has given great importance to natural systems of food production as solutions to the climate crisis.

Photo: Alessandro Vargiu / Paolo Properzi

The debate on natural food products proposed this year at Cheese is an evolution of the twenty-year battle over raw milk. It has opened up new prospects for the future, thanks to the contributions made by academics, agronomists, nutritionists, herders and cheesemakers. As their testimony demonstrates, the production of natural cheeses has a positive impact both on the environment and biodiversity.

“The program of Cheese 2019 was intertwined with environmental issues: a natural system of food production is an essential component of any resolution to this climate crisis, both as producers and consumers” – states Carlo Petrini, president and founder of Slow Food. “Industrial food production is responsible for the production of 34% of greenhouse gas emissions, while transport is responsible for just 17%. Well-kept pastures grazed by herbivores, which should feed on grass, have the capacity to store more CO2 than forests, which is precisely what we need in order to stem the climate crisis. Well-kept pastures are also fundamental for preserving the landscape, containing hydrogeological risks and strengthening the biodiversity of flora and fauna. As consumers, we need to understand that our food choices can contribute to resolving the climate crisis: we need to choose local, seasonal and natural.”

The theme of this edition, Natural is Possible, is a challenge Slow Food has risen to meet, and from today the association will follow this path even more rigorously. As a new tool for the future, the University of Gastronomic Sciences of Pollenzo, Italy, presented the first annual international Master’s degree in Raw Milk and Cheese, which will teach dozens of students the art of natural cheesemaking starting from January 2021. The proposal for the Master’s was enthusiastically welcomed by the network of Cheese affineurs, who will be among the course’s partners: “It is important for the future of our profession and our sector to be able to transfer our savoir-faire and help shape the next generation, which is sometimes uncertain about its identity and it future, giving them the opportunity to learn a trade. Life makes sense when we have a purpose and our work is often what allows us to exist and live,” commented Hervé Mons, the most important French affineur, who has been attending Cheese since its first edition.