This Saturday more than seven hundred events will take place all over the globe with one common purpose – to celebrate raw milk cheeses! From France to New Zealand, Boston to Los Angeles, thousands of curd lovers will mark April 22nd as the third annual Raw Milk Cheese Appreciation Day.
Created by Oldways Cheese Coalition right here in Boston this day is meant not only to commemorate these tasty cheeses but also to educate people on the benefits of enjoying raw milk products. As Carlos Yescas, program director for Oldways Cheese Coalition, puts it, “Our aim is to educate consumers about two things. First, raw milk cheeses are delicious. Second, these cheeses are slowly disappearing.”
Yep. It may be hard to believe but raw milk cheeses are slowly diminishing in numbers, both in the United States and Europe. How can that be? Most Americans have always suspected the FDA was a bit prissy when it came to raw milk products, but the Europeans? They are the bastions of tradition, aren’t they? The thought of Parmigiano Reggiano or Le Gruyère made with pasteurized milk makes one shudder…
The reality is most regulations still allow for the use of raw milk, but many larger companies eschew the practice out of concern for safety. Larger, commercial cheese producers often use lower-grade milk and voluntarily pasteurize it to eliminate any issue that might arise from poor cheese making practices. Unfortunately, once that happens it is difficult to return to using raw milk because of the expense and strict controls and guidelines that must be reinstated.
Locally, dairy farms and cheese makers are keeping the faith alive as well. Nancy Lawton, owner of Lawton’s Family Farm in Foxboro, is a huge proponent of raw milk traditions. With twenty-five cows of milking age and raw milk retailing licensing since 1985 their slogan sums it up nicely, “Milk with a Difference”. When asked why the availability of raw milk to the public is important Nancy feels “people should have access to fresh, unadulterated food of all kinds.” Their Foxboro Cheese Company offers a raw milk Asiago, and the farm sells raw milk as well.
We are fortunate to have organizations like Lawton’s Family Farm and Oldways Cheese Coalition in our own backyard. Their tireless effort to bring attention to the benefits of raw milk cheeses, and all raw milk dairy products, is having a very real effect. Raw Milk Cheese Appreciation Day is a way to bring everyone together to celebrate, if only for a day. As Carlos says, “We all love raw milk cheeses and don’t want to see it go. If you cherish your gastronomic culture, buy some raw milk cheese and join in the celebration.”
By: Adam Centamore, a Boston-based wine & cheese educator, writer and award-nominated author who loves to