(Source: Slow Food International)
New impetus for Slow Food to continue its battle in defense of small-scale cheesemakers
The tenth edition of Cheese, the international biennial event organized by Slow Food, dedicated to milk in all its shapes and the world of cheese, bowed out in style having welcomed more than 270,000 visitors, 30% of which were from foreign countries. Over 300 producers from more than 30 countries from all continents enlivened the streets of Bra (Italy) offering visitors their dairy products. All present – both producers and consumers – showed great enthusiasm and curiosity for products both local and lesser-known such as Traditional Icelandic Skyr (Iceland), Sognefjord Artisanal Geitost (Norway) andTcherni Vit Green Cheese (Bulgaria).
Emerging from the conferences and meetings at Cheese is a great increase in awareness of a variety of political issues Slow Food has been fighting for years:
- The dairy resistance (Resistenza Casearia), carried out by Slow Food since the birth of Cheese, has achieved significant results, so much so that the network of small-scale producers has spread even to countries such as South Africa, Brazil and Argentina.
- The petition against the use of powdered milk in cheese production has witnessed significant commitment by visitors and, by the end of the event, had reached 150,000 signatures.
- The presence of many young cheesemakers and shepherds at Cheese is important to support Slow Food in providing a medium and longer term perspective for agricultural activities in the mountains.
- The Ark of Taste welcomed aboard many new products, a sign that the task of cataloging food biodiversity does in fact spark increased awareness in consumers as well as include them in the process.
- Activities organized by the Biodiversity House helped to inform the public of the essential role played by soil and the feeding of animals in affecting the quality and diversity of milks and cheeses.
- Representatives of civil society, agricultural syndicates and the press contributed to the TTIP(Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) debate, underling the need to question the motivations behind the agreement, as it appears to not be driven by economical growth, environmental protection or the wellbeing of populations. Moreover, it was insisted that, besides the repercussions on the future of food, the agreement prefigures a deep mutation in the agricultural system, linked to both environmental and social consequences.
- The conference on the end of milk quotas in Europe highlighted the continuous fluctuation in milk prices and the transformation of milk as a commodity, influenced by the rules of global markets and by speculation. In face of this, the participants agreed on the need to return to a form of regulation of production systems, without which neither small farmers – especially those who live within fragile mountain ecosystems – nor the land, would survive unscathed from the industrialization of the production chain.