A Delicious Asset: Inside Italy's Cheese Bank

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In Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, a traditional bank called Credito Emiliano lines its coffers with edible gold. As Great Big Story reports, the financial institution accepts parmigiano-reggiano (Parmesan cheese) as collateral for loans, in addition to conventional currencies.

Emilia-Romagna is a major producer of parmigiano-reggiano, which is a hard, dry aged cheese made from skim milk. (Similar to how sparkling wine can only be called Champagne if it was made in the region of Champagne, France, Emilia-Romagna is the only region in the world that can legally use the parmigiano-reggiano name.) Not surprisingly, the cheese is a lucrative local commodity: Wheels of parmigiano-reggiano can be worth thousands of dollars, making the food a safe bet for banks looking to lend money to cheese producers. And conveniently, parmigiano-reggiano needs to be aged anywhere from 18 to 36 months, so it's ideal for long-term investments.

To keep the cheese safe (and delicious), Credito Emiliano stores it in a local warehouse. “We protect the producer’s investment, basically from cow to bank,” jokes Roberto Frignani, the warehouse’s general director. Learn more about Italy’s cheese bank (and see what more than 160 million euros' worth of parmigiano-reggiano looks like) by watching Great Big Story's video below.

[h/t Great Big Story]