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A British Ministry of food ration book from the second World War
Podcast / The history of…
Podcast / The history of…

The tumultuous history of British cheese

Britain is a nation of cheese lovers. In 2022 a Mintel report showed a third of us ate it two-to-three times a week.

And British cheese is booming. The British Cheese Board says we now produce more than 700 varieties.

But it was not always thus…

In fact the history of British cheese is a turbulent one, with peaks and troughs throughout the ages.

Things got so bad in the post-War period that the social historian Dorothy Hartley wrote: “Our cheeses are lost to England”.

In this episode of the Food Matters Live podcast, we explore that past but also look to the future. 

How rosy do things look for British cheese going forward? And what impact will dairy-free alternatives have on the market?

Ned Palmer, Author

Ned Palmer, ‘the UK’s leading expert on cheese’  according to noted gourmet Tom Watson, is the author of the best-selling A Cheesemonger’s History of the British Isles, published in 2019 and shortlisted for the André Simon, Fortnum and Mason’s and Guild of Food Writers awards in 2020. Ned published his second book A Cheesemonger’s Compendium of British and Irish Cheese in 2021, and is currently working on a third, A Cheesemonger’s Tour of France.

Ned began his career as a cheesemonger at Borough Market in November 2000 when he tried a piece of Trethowan’s Gorwydd Caerphilly. Cheesemaker Todd Trethowan quickly sent Ned to work at the great British cheese shop Neal’s Yard Dairy, largely to stop the ceaseless flow of cheese questions. Ned worked there for six years on the retail counter, looking after cheese in the cellars and traveling around Britain meeting cheese makers.

In 2014 Ned set up the Cheese Tasting Company to bring cheese to the people, and still travels around Britain and the rest of Europe visiting cheesemakers, hearing their stories and tasting their cheeses to bring the best and most fascinating examples to share with you and your friends.

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