My perfect match should be taller than five feet, sturdy, hairy, and a vegetarian with a sweet tooth for Italian grasslands. That description could probably land me an attractive partner through Adopt a Cow.
Adopt a Cow is a unique adoption program and the brainchild of Ilaria Sordo, a woman with a passion for traditional Italian cheeses who saw the green pastures of dairy farms fading away over the years. Sordo felt this was tragic, considering the cheeses of the Italian Alps, created by hand, are a delicacy. In order to save this part of Italian culture and the dairy economy, ten years ago Sordo developed the idea for Adopt a Cow.
The program allows interested parties to pay a reasonable 60 euro (about 67 USD, give or take) to adopt a compatible cow from one of the Old World dairy farms in Italy. Once the adoption is official, the individual is encouraged to travel to the farm where their cow lives, in order to bond and just be generally overwhelmed by cute cow companionship. During visits, the individual can pick up the various handmade aged and soft cheeses produced by his or her cow. The milk used to make the cheese is unpasteurized, and the cheese is dutifully checked every day to ensure it matures properly.
At first, it seems like a stretch to have people come and get their cheese rather than ship it. However, these small dairy farms cannot afford to ship the cheese and—let’s face it—you could use an excuse to go to Italy. That’s why the local tourism department has picked up Sordo’s program and begun promoting it as a means of bringing business back to the area.
When Adopt a Cow started, only a few dozen adoptions occurred within the year. The popularity of the program has since grown and last year adoptions totaled nearly one thousand. This is especially good news for the local dairy farmers, who thought they were going to have to give up the precious family business. Owners like Francesco Lenzi, in Trentino, Italy, are grateful for the opportunity to continue doing what they love while sharing the special Alpine cheeses with tourists. As he explains to NPR,
“Without Adopt A Cow, we would have lost money in 2014… Instead, it’s been a good year. There’s money to be made in quality cheese.”
Katie Parla, who writes about food in Italy for the New York Times, recently tested out the cheese produced at Lenzi’s farm. She said the product had a “really rich, nutty flavor” and discovered that Adopt a Cow matchmaking just might be more successful than Internet dating.
The program also helps bring together other food producers in the area that can profit from pairing their product with Alpine cheeses. Think about it, after a visiting your cow you could buy wine from the local vineyard, prosciutto from the cured meat producer, and countless other local gems.
I like my cow’s tall, dark, and cheesy. How about you?
Feature Photo Credit: “Cows in love” by COLOMBO NICOLA | Shutterstock