At his swearing-in ceremony, President John F. Kennedy famously implored the American people to “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Some of the sacrifices made by citizens around the world, especially at a time like this, can seem as inspirational as they are poignant. Others, though just as vital, feel less altruistic, and more like a dream come true.
Take, for instance, what is currently being asked of the French. For anyone interested in food, France is a strange mixture between heaven and a monastery. Despite its well-earned reputation for fastidious food puritanism, there’s no denying that French dining is as rich a cultural well as any edible tradition on earth. Now, in the face of a terrifying global pandemic, French citizens are being implored to go out to bat for that tradition in one of the most delicious ways imaginable.
According to a press release provided by the French dairy union “Terre de Lait”, France’s cheese is in peril. Concerns over coronavirus have caused a dramatic slump in sales, and the industry risks millions of dollars of stock going to waste and the collapse of some of its most famous artisanal businesses. To help save some of the country’s most iconic produce, French people are now being asked to “eat cheese in solidarity”. Vive la France.
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As the plea explains:
“Faced with the Covid 19 crisis, producers of traditional cheeses are in great difficulty. In fact, the majority of distribution channels in this segment are closed (markets, cheese makers, etc.) and consumers in confinement shun “pleasure” foods - including their cheese platter.”
This has forced those at the heart of the industry to implement the “Fromagissons” initiative. Its mission, as stated in the press release, is to:
“Encourage the consumption of traditional cheeses shunned by consumers since containment, and avoid as much as possible stocks in dairies (each kg of finished product leaving the factory, 10 liters of milk per producer can be used. enter), it is all the women and men in the sector who will be able to reorganize and work together so that France remains that of 1,000 cheeses.”
Despite the challenges faced by the French cheese industry, it is not the only iconic European food that finds itself under threat. Last week, it was revealed that Belgium has begged its citizens to eat potato fries at least twice a week as it attempts to deal with a vast spud surplus. Coronavirus clearly poses a considerable threat to our physical health and wellbeing. But it’s also worth remembering that there are wider consequences to this pandemic that we haven’t yet begun to fully understand.