Sustainability In The World of Cheese

Sustainability In The World of Cheese

“Improve Every Day” – Words to live by, and one of the Antonelli's core principles! We love how this energy seems to return to us ten-fold, enlightening us to all of the exciting products & creative innovations revolutionizing the cheese industry. It’s also inspiring for us to behold the humble stewardship of land & resources that contribute to making unforgettable cheeses that we can feel great about! In our own words, “There is no best, only better, and we will try to be a better version of ourselves each day.” Antonelli’s thrives on fostering the relationship between cheese and sustainability, and here’s a snapshot of where the cheese industry is at today.

Join Us, as we “Do Good, Eat Good” for Earth Month!

What is Sustainability – And Why Do We Care?

Sustainability refers to the practice of meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Sustainability in business refers to the practice of integrating environmental, social, and economic considerations into business strategies and operations. It involves creating business models that are not only profitable, but also environmentally responsible, socially just, and ethical.

Back in 1968, when people were just beginning to think about the realities of our changing environment and what could be done about it, a nonprofit group of intellectuals and business leaders came together at Accademia dei Lincei in Italy to form The Club of Rome. The collective’s main focus was clear: to bring light to pressing global issues by promoting a worldwide discussion about them. 

Known as the ‘Big Bang’ of the sustainability movement, “The Limits to Growth,'' published by The Club of Rome in 1971, marked the emergence of a clear, international discussion about the conundrum of boundless growth on a planet with limited resources. “The Limits to Growth'' pioneered outlining factors such as: 

  • Population Increase
  • Agricultural Production
  • Non-Renewable Resource Depletion
  • Industrial Output
  • Pollution Generation

    In the decades that have followed, sustainability has become a topic that is increasingly on our minds – as well as a priority for global brands committed to creating a positive social and environmental impact. 

    So, How Does Sustainability Relate to Cheese?

    Every food product comes along with an environmental footprint. Sustainability-focused agriculture works to reduce this footprint. With the sheer amount of cheese, butter, ice cream, milk, and yogurt Americans consume (an educated guess allocates 655 pounds of dairy, per person each year), shoppers are becoming more & more aware of where their food comes from, and how it’s made.

    It takes a lot of milk – 10 pounds of milk, on average – to produce a pound of hard cheese, and all the while cows are, um, “releasing” methane, which impacts global-warming 25 times more than carbon. Add to that the footprint of all the grains that go into feeding the cows, transportation of animals & milk, and eventually the cheeses to broad, often international markets – and the problem compounds.

    These factors are more on our minds today than ever, and thankfully, more & more creameries across the country are committing to environmentally-friendly practices. For example, a gallon of milk produced in 2023 requires significantly less land area and less water than the same gallon did 15 years ago – all thanks to forward-thinking agricultural practices!

    What Are Cheesemakers Doing to Help the Environment?

    While the dairy industry hasn’t necessarily always been green-focused, initiatives being made to improve & adapt are heartening examples of how forward-driven today’s cheese industry is! We heartily agree with industry leaders that thoughtful dairy farming can be a vehicle for good. Artisan cheesemakers are increasingly interested in reducing the environmental impact of farming by managing their land, air and water to optimize care of their animals. 

    Here’s some of the ways the dairy industry is creatively reducing environmental impact: 

  • Fine-tuning animal diets
  • Machines that convert methane into electricity
  • Collecting solar power
  • Rotational grazing
  • Investing in energy-efficient tools & methods
  • Cutting down on processing
  • Working byproducts into animal diets & composting
  • Using naturally temperature-controlled caves for aging 

    Another important factor to our own “Do Good, Eat Good” motto: How are the animals taken care of? The health and well-being of animals is important to the production of superior-quality milk. Some cheesemakers we work closely with (such as Green Dirt Farm in Missouri and Nettle Meadow Farm in upstate New York) go the extra mile by becoming certified as Animal Welfare Approved, using standards to ensure best practices for their animals.

    What Can YOU Do to Support Sustainable Dairying Practices?

    More and more, conscious consumers are increasingly cautious about which companies they’re supporting with their dollar, intentionally buying from producers that are transparent about their sustainable practices. As consumers, we are at the very root of reducing waste and tightening resources, and each purchase is a vote of confidence. The silver lining to these strategies is that these habits aren’t just better for the planet, they typically mean less waste, better value and fresher, better-tasting foods for the consumer. 

    Here are some excellent steps to start building a healthier conscience when purchasing all things Antonelli’s:

    • Think Ahead!
      • Try meal planning & prep to reduce food waste – it’s a fun family activity, leaving you with precious grab-n-go options that make the most of your purchases. 
    • Invest & Reuse!
      • Reusable storage options keep on giving – and help keep tons of waste out of our landfills.
    • Shop Local!
      • Selecting producers in your own region at your favorite cheese shop cuts down on transportation and refrigeration, while providing a sense of ownership & knowledge about where our food comes from (and how it’s made). 
    • Enlist an Expert!
      • It is 100% free for you to meet with your local cheesemonger, who can help not only with what is tasting great right now, but also mindfully considering realistic quantities you & your guests are likely to consume to avoid waste and overspending.
    • Contain Yourself!
      • Properly storing and using leftovers protects your investments – while generating a cue of goodwill towards the planet.

    Join Us at the Table!
    A sustainable mindset is a fantastic approach to supporting the producers & purveyors of cheese who are adapting a greater sense of responsibility to the planet. We envision a future where cheese & dairy are no longer environmental concerns, rather carbon-credit breadwinners for the whole of the industrialized world!
    We always have sustainability on our minds here at Antonelli’s, as we move onward with our “Do Good, Eat Good” mission – and we’d love to hear from you! What are some tips & tricks you’ve discovered to practice sustainability while enjoying cheese, charcuterie and accompaniments? Let us know!

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