Published On: April 11, 2024

Your favorite imported cheeses bring a world of delicious flavors to your table, but they also offer a unique perspective on sustainability and a taste of terroir and heritage in every bite!  As home cooks, hosts, and cheese lovers; learning about these aspects of cheesemaking make enjoying imported cheeses even more special and lets you participate in taking care of the environment too.

Let’s start with sustainability. The origin of imported cheeses begins with milk from regional farms in the countryside of Europe.  Unlike mass-produced cheeses, many imported varieties come from smaller, family-owned operations that prioritize sustainable farming practices and a natural concern for the environment around them. This includes everything from ethical animal handling to environmentally friendly production methods. By choosing imported cheeses, you’re not only supporting the farmers who raise their animals and care for their land responsibly but helping preserve local heritage and tradition.

Here’s how!

Responsible Farming: Many local farmers practice organic or regenerative farming methods that prioritize soil health, biodiversity, and preserving natural resources. They also encourage rotational grazing to maintain healthy pastures and healthy cows.

Animal Welfare: This includes not only access to open pasture but natural diets, humane treatment, and avoiding the use of hormones or antibiotics.

Efficient Resource Management: Sustainably minded farmers optimize water usage with water-saving technologies and by reusing water where possible. They also minimize energy consumption by using renewable energy sources or energy-efficient equipment.

Waste Reduction and Recycling: With imported cheesemaking, many farmers recycle organic waste such as whey and other byproducts. 

Support Local Communities and Preserve Tradition: When you choose imported cheeses you’re supporting local farmers who are maintaining traditional cheesemaking techniques that are well-suited to their local environments.

Certifications and Labels: Seeking certifications like organic, PDO (Protected Designation of Origin), or AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) in your imported cheeses can verify sustainable practices and product quality.

Imported cheeses truly are a product of “the land” and give you a fascinating lesson in terroir.  Just like in winemaking; the unique environmental factors that influence a cheese’s taste and character come from where the animals live. Just as wine reflects the soil, climate, and traditions of its origin, cheeses are profoundly shaped by where they’re made; from the taste of the milk to the delicious end product you know and love!

Each cheese tells a story of its origin—whether it’s the alpine pastures of Switzerland that lend a distinctive nuttiness to Gruyère or imported French cheeses like Camembert and Roquefort that showcase the Normandy meadows or the limestone caves of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon.  Similarly, Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano brings you a taste of the terroir of the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, where the cows graze on lush pastures.

Imported Cheese is about so much more than just expanding our palate—it’s about celebrating sustainable agriculture, cultural diversity, heritage, and tradition that connects us to the world – one delicious bite at a time!

Want to learn more? Check out our piece all about Savoring the Terroir of the Loire Valley France!