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Welsh cheesemaker leads bid to save quake-hit Parmesan.

CHEESE lovers in Wales are being encouraged to join an online campaign to help save one of the most famous cheeses in the world - Parmesan - after production has been rocked by earthquakes in Italy.

In May, two powerful earthquakes struck the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy - the heart of the Parmigiano-Reggiano (Parmesan) producing region. Parmesan producers now face financial ruin as the warehouses storing these highly-prized cheeses crumbled under the impact of the tremors of May 20 and 29, damaging 10% of the annual production - a total of 608,000 cheeses.

The cheeses, now unable to complete their maturing process looked destined for the bin.

But the Save a Cheese Campaign hopes to relieve the plight of the Parmesan producers by offering them online at www.saveacheese.com.

The Save A Cheese campaign is being led by award-winning artisan cheese maker John Savage-Onstwedder of Teifi Farmhouse Cheese, Cardiganshire.

His raw milk cheeses have won countless awards - including The James Aldridge Memorial Trophy for Best British Raw Milk Cheese.

He says he could not stand by when he heard of the plight of his fellow producers in Italy and is travelling to the region to meet producers. As an organic farmer he will try to source certified organic Parmesan.

He said: "As an artisan, raw milk cheesemaker, I understand how important it is to support raw milk cheesemakers wherever they may be because they are an endangered species, not just in the UK, but all over Europe."

Retailing at pounds 22 per 1kg wedge the Parmesan bought through the website will be ready for distribution next month. The price includes postage and packaging, and the cheese will be stamped with the Save A Cheese logo.

The bulk of the money will be paid to the individual cheesemaker with one further euro per kg going to the Parmigiano-Reggiano Consortium for distribution to other cheese producers affected by the earthquakes.

Mr Savage-Onstwedder said: "The campaign's aim is to offer you the chance to help the struggling Parmesan producers by purchasing your own wedge of Quake Cheese, to be delivered direct to your door with a healthy slice of karma."

About Parmesan... * It takes 600 litres of milk to produce one 38kg cheese.

Whey from the cheese is fed to the pigs that produce the world-famous Parma Ham.

Maturation takes place in special warehouses called cathedrals, where the cheeses are pilled 24 high in rows of up to 90 cheeses.

The Parmigiano-Reggiano name is protected by European law, having the coveted Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status; which decrees certain products can only be labelled as such if they come from the designated region.

CAPTION(S):

* Parmesan is matured in special warehouses called cathedrals * Rescuers trying to save the world-famous cheeses. Go online to buy a cheese
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Aug 21, 2012
Words:461
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