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food / travel

Something Smells Funny? Gorgonzola Popularity Spawns Bogus-zola

As Gorgonzola exports begin to boom, formaggio fraudsters try to get a cut of the action with fake versions of the cheese. One trick is to give the imitation variety a name that has a familiar ring.

Wheel in the real stuff (Rachel Black)
Wheel in the real stuff (Rachel Black)


TURIN - All over Europe, the whiff of Gorgonzola is getting stronger and stronger. Thanks to aggressive advertisement campaigns featuring top chefs, sales of the zesty, blue and green-marbled cheese are rising fast. For instance, sales in Poland have increased 82% over the past year.

But with success comes the risk of stinky knock-offs, with "imitation" Gorgonzola increasingly showing up on the shelves. The Gorgonzola Consortium, a business organization in the northern Italian regions of Piedmont and Lombardy where the cheese is traditionally made, has warned that the imitation products are often sold under names ending with "zola" (but not starting with "Gorgon"), in order to confuse careless supermarket shoppers.

Most of the ersatz cheeses are sold in northern Europe, where several lawsuits have been filed. Courts are studying the cases. Authentic Gorgonzola producers, who benefit from the D.O.C label (denominazione di origine controllata) are also working with the cross-national Interpol and Europol policing agencies to help verifiy bona fide Gorgonzola exports.

Read the original Italian article in full by Gianfranco Quaglia

Photo - Rachel Black

*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations

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Life On "Mars": With The Teams Simulating Space Missions Under A Dome

A niche research community plays out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another planet.

Photo of a person in a space suit walking toward the ​Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

At the Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

Sarah Scoles

In November 2022, Tara Sweeney’s plane landed on Thwaites Glacier, a 74,000-square-mile mass of frozen water in West Antarctica. She arrived with an international research team to study the glacier’s geology and ice fabric, and how its ice melt might contribute to sea level rise. But while near Earth’s southernmost point, Sweeney kept thinking about the moon.

“It felt every bit of what I think it will feel like being a space explorer,” said Sweeney, a former Air Force officer who’s now working on a doctorate in lunar geology at the University of Texas at El Paso. “You have all of these resources, and you get to be the one to go out and do the exploring and do the science. And that was really spectacular.”

That similarity is why space scientists study the physiology and psychology of people living in Antarctic and other remote outposts: For around 25 years, people have played out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another world. Polar explorers are, in a way, analogous to astronauts who land on alien planets. And while Sweeney wasn’t technically on an “analog astronaut” mission — her primary objective being the geological exploration of Earth — her days played out much the same as a space explorer’s might.

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