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[News from the Net] Is the taste of cheese threatened by global warming?

Swiss Research

The traditional flavours of Gruyère and L’Étivaz cheeses could change as a result of climate change and changes in grassland. Are the predictions of UNIL biologists bad news for our taste buds?

We take a look.

Climate change means upheaval for ecosystems. Each species, in a fragile equilibrium, is adapting as best it can to the current and future upheavals our planet is undergoing. This also applies to the plants in the Vaud Pre-Alps, which are eaten by the cows that graze peacefully in their pastures. From their milk comes a national treasure: cheese. If this chain is altered by climate change, will our palates be able to withstand the shock?

Pascal Vittoz, a botanist at the Institut des dynamiques de la surface terrestre (Idyst) in Lausanne, will be the first to answer our questions. In his office, you can see a plant identification compendium in his well-stocked bookshelf, with small pieces of paper marking some of the worn pages. He explains why each plant is adapted to its environment. When the environment changes and is no longer suitable, the plant moves, dispersing its seeds in the wind. We asked him why they were so firmly attached to their environment.

Around twenty years ago, a research group from UNIL carried out a census in the Vaud Pre-Alps, where many of the cows whose cheese ends up on our plates graze. They marked out 912 randomly selected 4-metre square points and recorded every plant species present within the perimeter.

Continue reading (in French) on the website of the University of Lausanne  –  1 May 2024