Stories of Resistance at Cheese 2019: traditional Swiss cheesemakers defy the industrialized versions of some of the world’s most famous cheeses

Slow Food presents the 12th edition of the world’s premier cheese event in the Italian city of Bra, from September 20-23. This year’s theme: “Natural is Possible”.

Cheese – the international event dedicated to natural cheeses produced with raw milk and without artificial enzymes in sachets, which are thus richer in biodiversity and more authentic expressions of their areas of origin –gathers cheesemakers and exhibitors from more than 30 countries. The last edition in 2017 saw a record 300.000 visitors.Stories of Resistance at Cheese 2019: traditional Swiss cheesemakers defy the industrialized versions of some of the world’s most famous cheeses

Among the Swiss cheeses available in Bra, there are two Slow Food Presidia:

  • Traditional Emmentaler. A group of small-scale cheesemakers decided to come together to counteract the industrial standardization of Emmentaler that has taken place in past decades. They want to protect their traditional craft and sell their product The Presidium supports an old method of production, as the long aging period (at least 12 months) takes place in natural cellars.
  • Mountain Pasture Sbrinz. Until the 19th century this cheese was made with mountain milk, but as the first big dairies opened in the valley production started to shift to the lowlands as well. This lowland production was cheaper and could be continued year-round. Now, out of the more than 30 dairies that currently produce Sbrinz AOC (a protected denomination of origin since 2002), only eight work in the mountains. The Presidium was set up to promote high-quality production carried out exclusively in alpine dairies during the summer. Only since this year, the project gathers all eight remaining alpine dairies, following its aim to raise the profile of this cheese to distinguish it from the mass of industrialized Sbrinz that dominates the market.

Another two Swiss cheeses will be tasted during the workshop Jura, Savoy, Switzerland: How to Match Mountain Cheeses: Gruyère and Raw Milk Vacherin Fribourgeois, a Slow Food Presidium. Vacherin fribourgeois was initially an alpine pasture cheese, produced at the beginning of the warmer season, when the amount of milk available was not sufficient to produce the region’s most important cheese, the famous Gruyère. The production of small-wheel cheeses, i.e vacherin, took place at this time of year, as a sort of ‘little brother’ which still expressed all the excellent characteristics of the pastures and the skills of the local cheesemakers. In the 1950s, for reasons of hygiene, the heat-treatment of milk became more and more practiced in the production of vacherin fribourgeois, leading to the loss of traditional knowledge and the impoverishment of its specific sensory qualities. Nowadays, of the 2500 tons of Vacherin Fribourgeois AOP produced annually, only 2% is prepared with raw milk. The Presidium was created to protect the vacherin fribougeois produced exclusively with raw milk on mountain pastures and in the few remaining dairies in the valley.

Stories of Resistance at Cheese 2019: traditional Swiss cheesemakers defy the industrialized versions of some of the world’s most famous cheesesIn the Great Hall of Cheese – the festival’s wonder-room, with over 100 foreign cheeses from France, Spain, Portugal, the UK, Ireland and beyond – all the above-mentioned Swiss cheeses will be available to taste: Traditional Emmentaler DOP, Mountain Pasture Sbrinz DOP, Gruyere DOP, Etivaz DOP and Vacherin Fribourgeois DOP.

The movie La Terre et le Lait, by Jeanne Bourgon, will also be displayed at the event: the movie is a portrayal of three tenacious farmers whose savoir-faire respects the balance of nature, thus going against the grain regarding the industrial evolution of agriculture and today’s dominant patterns of  consumption. Henri-Daniel and Aimée from L’Etivaz aop will narrate how they continue to produce raw cow’s milk cheese in the Swiss Alps.

Other Swiss exhibitors at the event will be:

Switzerland will also have a place of honor in the Affineur Alley, with Jumi, Swissmathier and Mundig all present.

Check the latest updates on the program and book activities.

Apply for press accreditation.


Cheese Press Office

Slow Food – Non-Italian

Paola Nano (+39 329 8321285); Giulia Capaldi (+39 342 8278485)

Slow Food – Italian

Valter Musso (+39 335 7422962); Alessia Pautasso (+39 342 8641029);

Elisa Virgillito (+39 345 2598615)

City of Bra: Elena Martini; Erica Asselle; +39 0172 438278;

Cheese is organized by the City of Bra and Slow Food with the support of the Piedmont Region. The event has been made possible by the support of companies who believe in the values and objectives of the event, including the Official Partners: Agugiaro&Figna Molini, BBBell, Consorzio di Tutela della Mozzarella di Bufala Campana Dop e Consorzio della Ricotta di Bufala Campana Dop, CR Bra, Egea, Lurisia, Parmigiano Reggiano, Pastificio Di Martino, Quality Beer Academy, Reale Mutua.

Slow Food is a global network of local communities founded in 1989 to prevent the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions and counteract the rise of fast food culture. Since its founding, Slow Food has grown into a global movement involving millions of people in over 160 countries, working to ensure that everyone has access to good, clean and fair food. 


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