Consider the Animals – Cheese turns 13
The Slow Food festival is back from September 17 to 20
Event program available at https://cheese.slowfood.it/en
If there were no animals, there’d be no cheese, nor much of anything else. And that’s the theme of Cheese 2021: Consider the Animals. The 13th edition of the most important event dedicated to raw milk cheeses and artisanal dairy products will take place from September 17 – 20 in Bra, Italy, welcoming small-scale cheese producers—and more—from all over the world.
Slow Food has focused on animal welfare in previous editions, including the importance of adequate nutrition for milking animals, and the biodiversity of breeds. From the conferences to the Taste Workshops, the animal kingdom has always enjoyed a special place. But through considering the animals Slow Food takes another step forward and makes the whole of Cheese revolve around this central argument.
According to the FAO, there are 7745 local breeds: 26% of them are at risk of extinction. In Europe, half of the breeds which existed at the beginning of the 20th century have already disappeared. The extinction of a breed is an irreversible loss, and not just in genetic terms: behind every breed there’s an ecosystem, a culture, a craft, a gastronomic tradition, an economy. Furthermore, if we consider—as a study by the Weizman Institute in Rehovot, Israel did—the weight of the total mass of mammals on the surface of our planet, we find that humans account for 36% of the total weight, farm animals for 60%, and everything else now accounts for just 4%. This figure is all the more reason to put the complex relationship between humans and the animals we have domesticated at the center of Cheese.
“This is the right time to do it. If there’s one thing we’ve learned from Covid-19, it’s that our relationship with nature must be recalibrated,” comments Serena Milano, Secretary General of the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity. “We have to strive to establish a healthier equilibrium with the world around us. We have to learn to behave not as if we were owners of this planet, but mere tenants with a duty to respect our neighbors, be they cows, sheep, goats, wild animals, bees and other pollinators, right down to bacteria and microorganisms. All of them affect the process that allows us to have milk and therefore cheese.”
Cheese is a chance to live the most sincere and joyous sense of what our relationship with the animal kingdom can and should look like. The cheese of a herder who cares for their herds or cattle, taking them to the best pastures, and leaving them free to move and graze on their favored plants, which are naturally rich in essential nutrients. Who milks their animals and cares for them when they’re sick. Who understands how precious animals are for the wellbeing of the planet, as well as for the joy contained in cheese. A herder’s whole life revolves around considering the animals, and is lived alongside them. Without considering the animals, herders and the biodiversity around them couldn’t exist. But it’s something we should all be doing, too. Out of love. Out of respect. And because there’s no other way forward if we want to ensure a healthy future on this planet.
Consider the Animals will run through all the areas and activities at Cheese 2021: from the conferences to the Taste Workshops and the market stands. Numerous international affineurs and selectors have confirmed their presence at Cheese 2021, despite difficulties caused by anti-Covid restrictions. Driven by a desire to return to conviviality, there’ll be an increasingly strong presence of international producers, particularly from Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
The event will again open a window on the theme of natural cheese, which is produced thanks to microscopic forms of life which give each cheese its unique identity. Besides cheese and dairy products, to widen the panorama of natural foods, at Cheese an area of the market will host a selection of natural cured meats. Cheese 2021 features charcuterie produced without nitrites or nitrates, because natural food isn’t just tastier, it’s better for our health and has a lower impact on the environment.
The formula is the same, despite a redesign of the event spaces in line with anti-Covid health & safety measures. Entry is free and the event will be held across the squares and streets of Bra.
Here you’ll find the Cheese Market, Biodiversity House, the Great Hall of Cheese, the Enoteca, an educational exhibition on the world of herding and animal husbandry, the Street Kitchens, Craft Beer and Food Trucks, our partners’ stands and much more.
Cheese 2021 is organized by the City of Bra and Slow Food. The event has been made possible by the support of companies who believe in the values and objectives of the event, including Main Partners: BBBell, BPER Banca, Consorzio del Parmigiano Reggiano, Egea, Pastificio Di Martino, Quality Beer Academy (QBA) and Reale Mutua.