Why Camembert, One Of The World’s Great Cheeses, Might Soon Be Extinct

It’s the second-most-popular cheese in France. But genuine Camembert might soon disappear.

A PDO Camembert de Normandie must be made with unfiltered raw milk with a fat content of at least 38 per cent that comes from cows from France’s northern Normandy province, fed under strict conditions—grass and hay from local pastures. The milk must be hand-ladled in four or more layers into specific moulds. Milk is transported no farther than the distance that cows can slowly dawdle in search of a fresh blade of grass.

If this is the cheese you’re seeking, particularly outside of France, then good luck. Today, only four per cent of the 360 million wheels produced annually—just a little over one per cent—are the real deal, and, as small farms are scooped up by the big guys, the number is rapidly dwindling.

Today you can count on just a few fingers the the farmstead operators (cheesemakers who also tend to the animals that supply the milk) who are making Camembert to the exacting nature of the PDO stamp. A decade ago, that number was greater. All three—La Ferme du Champsecret, Domaine de Saint Loup, and Fromagerie Durand—are in Normandy. They are the gold standard of Camembert. And they exist for as long as the fickle laws governing raw milk cheese sales allow them to.


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