Slow Food International is an organization that promotes traditional food production, including fair prices to farmers, solid environmental practices, heritage breeds of livestock and heirloom vegetable varieties. It began in Italy, but there is a strong U.S. presence with local chapters in many cities, including Milwaukee and Madison.
Every other year in mid-September, Slow Food hosts a festival focused in Bra, Italy, exclusively on cheese. Raw-milk cheese and American producers were featured this year, and Wisconsinâs own Uplands Cheese Co. earned a prestigious prize, the Resistenza Casearia Award. This is the first time an American cheese company has won.
Slow Food International bestows this award on select cheesemakers who make the highest quality cheese while respecting animal welfare and the environment.
Slow Food founder and President Carlo Petrini described Uplands Cheese owner and cheesemaker Andy Hatch as a âmodel for all traditional cheesemakers, in the United States and across the world.Â American cheesemaking has come so far in the past 20 years, and Uplands Cheese is the leading light of that movement.â
Uplands makes two cheeses: Rush Creek Reserve, a soft-ripened cheese wrapped in spruce bark with an oozy paste that is available for only a few short months, starting in November. Pleasant Ridge Reserve is an alpine-style riff on French Beaufort, that is made unique with grass-fed milk from Uplands’ own herd of cows.
Pleasant Ridge is officially Americaâs most awarded cheese, earning Best of Show at the 2003 U.S. Cheese Championship and Best of Show at the American Cheese Society competition an unprecedented three times.
But this Slow Food Award is recognition for…