PSA: France Is Running Out Of Camembert Cheese
French cuisine is not having a good time right now. Not a good time at all.
First, we learned that butter and croissants were on the verge of dying out. But now, something far, far worse has come to light: Camembert cheese may soon cease to exist. That’s right: one of the world’s most beloved cheeses is about as endangered as the Javan rhinoceros.
Here’s a sad truth bomb for you: you’ve probably almost never eaten real Camembert in your life. In fact, just four million out of every 360 million Camembert wheels made each year are the real deal.
That’s right. Chances are, that gooey, soft, cheesy deliciousness you thought to be Camembert is very likely a fraud. And the problem now, is that the real thing might soon cease to exist entirely.
Like Champagne and Port, Camembert de Normandie, first made in 1791, originates in the village of Camembert, in the northern France region of Normandy. For the cheese to be considered real, it must originate from that particular region. More than that, it must be made following a strict historical process, and here’s where the problem begins.
There’s a great amount of detail and specificity that goes into making Camembert: the cheese must be made using unfiltered raw milk from a Normandy cow who eats nothing but Normandy grass and hay, and the fat content must be minimum 38 per cent. And the milk cannot be moved farther than the distance that cows may walk to find fresh grass.
The problem is that Camembert is made from unpasteurised milk – that is, aged less than 60 days. In some countries, such as the US, this has led to health concerns forcing it to be banned outright. Due to the complex process involved in making safely edible cheese from unpasteurised milk, there are less and less farmers willing to properly make it each year, opting instead to develop substitutes.
So with the regulatory concerns on top of the difficulty in actually making it, there’s less and less motivation to actually make the real thing, meaning farmers are pumping out more and more of the fake stuff – and lying to you the whole time.
So while the fake “Camembert” you find everywhere will continue to live on, the real thing is scarily close to complete extinction.
And that’s downright devastating.
(Lead image: Wikimedia)