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Cheesemakers to push back against France's strict rules as climate change makes it impossible to meet the traditional standards

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By illuminem briefings

· 2 min read

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🗞️ Driving the news: French cheesemakers are facing challenges due to climate change, which is making it increasingly difficult to adhere to the country's stringent cheesemaking standards
• The traditional methods, particularly for the 46 AOP-labeled cheeses like Camembert de Normandie and Roquefort, are being questioned as hotter and drier summers impact the availability of certain cereals and hay, essential for grazing animals

🔭 The context: These standards encompass the entire cheesemaking process, from the breed of the milk-producing animals to their diet and grazing periods
• For instance, cows used for a specific type of cheese had to graze on mountain pastures for seven months, a requirement that's becoming untenable as grass becomes scarce due to climate shifts

🌍 Why it matters for the planet: The struggle of French cheesemakers highlights the broader impact of climate change on global food systems, making them more susceptible to environmental changes
• It's not just cheese that's affected; climate change has also devastated Georgia's peach crops, Michigan's tart cherries, and led to the cancellation of Alaska's snow crab season for two consecutive years

⏭️ What's next: Some cheese associations have received permission to deviate from traditional rules after extreme weather events
• Cheesemakers are experimenting with new strategies, such as using drought-resistant crops like sorghum for grazing, to maintain the quality of their products while adapting to environmental changes

💬 One quote: "The whole system was built on the fact that we had certain cereals and hay available — all the rules were written with that in mind. But with climate change and droughts, all that has been called into question," (Simon Bouchet from the association for the French goat cheese Picodon)

📈 One stat: In Georgia, changing weather patterns destroyed up to 90% of the state's peach crop, marking the most significant loss some farmers had seen in their lifetimes

Click for more news covering the latest on environmental sustainability

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