International Cheese Regulations & The OCC

The Oldways Cheese Coalition is formed by cheese producers, importers, retailers, and consumers from around the world. Part of our vision is that if you are eating better Parmigiano Reggiano, you are also probably choosing local cheeses that represent the same values that you admire. Therefore, the work of the Coalition is a global endeavor. We learn a lot from European cheesemakers and allied organizations promoting artisanal cheese production in France and elsewhere. At the same time, we are committed to learning more about the dairy and cheesemaking traditions of Latin American, Asia, and Africa. We are fortunate to have wonderful supporters everywhere! Just this past April for the third annual Raw Milk Cheese Appreciation Day we had celebrations in South Africa, Brazil, and India.

The work we do around the world covers many aspects, from advising on government engagement practices in Brazil, to counseling cheesemakers in Russia to start the first association for producers, to guiding promotional campaigns in many countries including Australia, Canada, and Japan. We are also constantly checking with leaders in burgeoning cheese organizations in Argentina, Spain, and Mexico. Most of our work is behind the scenes, but has two basic purposes: to promote artisanal cheeses and protect traditional cheesemaking practices.

As you know a couple of weeks ago we meet a cheesemaker from Mongolia developing new businesses in that country. You can read more about it here.

We have been following Sandor Katz's adventures in China and loved learning that there is cheesemaking in that country. Watch his latest video on traditional practices from that country. I also attended a talk earlier this year at the University of Michigan by Prof. Brown on cheesemaking in China. Once her research is published, we will share it.

Over the past few months we have been writing about cheesemaking traditions in Latin-America and the Mediterranean, and hope to continue to do this. We encourage you to get your hands on a copy of the Oxford Companion to Cheese, which has entries on many regions of the world, including a detailed description of cheesemaking culture in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico written by me.

On the regulatory front, we are happy to learn from our friends in Brazil that they had a successful meeting with their Minister for Agriculture and they will be proposing legislation to protect traditional raw milk cheeses in that country. We will be advising a group of retailers and cheesemakers as they move forward with their advocacy efforts.

Your membership dollars help us to continue our work around the world. We often pay for translators to deliver on-time information to advocates abroad and we are partnering with Slow Food to conduct the first ever international cheesemaker survey to gather information about raw milk cheesemaking practices around the world. Every little bit helps, consider becoming a member today and we will send you a cool “beneficial microbe’ t-shirt!

Carlos Yescas - Oldways Cheese Coalition Program Director