The continuing consolidation of the dairy industry—in which a small number of farms produce much of a country’s milk—has resulted in increased pollution and environmental issues in the U.S. Artisanally produced cheese, on the other hand, relies on small herds which are allowed to roam freely, avoiding many of the issues that occur when thousands of cows are kept in confinement. But, as Diez notes, “it’s very complex to explain what is ‘artisanal’ in concrete terms.” Thus, Diez and her husband, Adrián Pellejo, are working to bring together a selection of excellent cheeses that buyers can be sure champion ethical practices, taking into consideration all elements that go into making it artisanal: the livestock feeding methods, the handling and care in the production processes, and the commitment to generate a positive impact on the environment.
In the same way sustainability-focused fashion brands might be asking themselves: What raw materials am I using? Am I tracking, reporting and managing my use of carbon emissions? How am I packaging my products? Diez holds herself accountable with similar questions when she selects the cheese to feature at Formaje. How are these animals being fed? What methods of obtaining the raw material assure me that we’re generating value in the environment as opposed to harming it? These types of questions are the foundation on which Formaje was built. More than a sales project, it is a fight to create an industry standard that makes our planet better, in this case through cheesemaking.
As many industries reckon with the global issue that is climate change, Madrid-based Clara Diez, a turophile of the highest order, would like you to consider one category in particular. “I call myself a cheese activist,” Diez half-jokes. In partnership with her husband, Diez launched Formaje earlier this year, a project that is less about dairy and more about a lifestyle—how the conscious choices we make can have a positive impact in our communities, and on our environment. In addition to a traditional shopping experience, Formaje plays host to talks and tastings, all centered around the cultural importance of artisanal cheese.
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