The Boston Globe profiles Vermont Farmstead, a farm and cheesemaker that was started to save the land from development, and is now producing award-winning cheeses (You can see my review of their Lille Cheese, pictured above, here).
SOUTH WOODSTOCK, Vt. — Perched on a hill overlooking a valley, Farmstead Cheese Co. began as a neighborly plan to preserve a dairy farm.
The bucolic 18-acre site was a former water buffalo farm and creamery that produced mozzarella and yogurt. When its owners moved to Canada and put the land up for sale, locals worried about the loss of jobs and the disappearance of another bit of the Green Mountain State’s rich heritage. They feared that the pastoral landscape might be grabbed by a developer.
So 14 neighbors banded together to buy the farm and decided cheese making might safeguard its future. Within the year, they rebuilt the creamery, brought in a mixed breed herd — Holstein, Jersey, Ayrshire, and Swiss Brown — to blend milks and make farmstead cheese. They started the first community-owned dairy farm in the state. In two years, the company has won dozens of awards for its cheddar, a harvarti-style tilsit, Edam, and English and French-style cheeses.
The new owners are not novices. They include seasoned farmers and food industry executives who hired experienced staff. The top cheese maker, Rick Woods, 46, has been plying his craft for 19 years. “We’re a new company, but it’s not the first time around the block for these people,” says Sharon Huntley, who is in charge of marketing.
Read the full story.
Via the New York Times, the story of an Indiana dairy that is finding innovative, eco-friendly uses for its endless supply of cow manure:
FAIR OAKS, Ind. — Here at one of the largest dairy farms in the country, electricity generated using an endless supply of manure runs the equipment to milk around 30,000 cows three times a day.
For years, the farm has used livestock waste to create enough natural gas to power 10 barns, a cheese factory, a cafe, a gift shop and a maze of child-friendly exhibits about the world of dairy, including a 4D movie theater.
All that, and Fair Oaks Farms was still using only about half of the five million pounds of cow manure it vacuumed up from its barn floors on a daily basis. It burned off the excess methane, wasted energy sacrificed to the sky.
But not anymore.
The farm is now turning the extra manure into fuel for its delivery trucks, powering 42 tractor-trailers that make daily runs to raw milk processing plants in Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee. Officials from the federal Department of Energy called the endeavor a “pacesetter” for the dairy industry, and said it was the largest natural gas fleet using agricultural waste to drive this nation’s roads.
“As long as we keep milking cows, we never run out of gas,” said Gary Corbett, chief executive of Fair Oaks, which held a ribbon-cutting event for the project this month and opened two fueling stations to the public.
“We are one user, and we’re taking two million gallons of diesel off the highway each year,” he said. “That’s a big deal.”
read the full story.
Looking for a job in cheesemaking? Edgwick Farm, in Cornwall, NY, is looking for a Cheese Room Assistant. I visited Edgwick back in July 2012, you can see my post about it here, or check out the Edgwick page on Facebook. This sounds like a great opportunity for someone looking to learn all about farmstead cheesemaking and goat dairy operations:
We are a farmstead goat cheese makers based in Cornwall, NY. We have a micro-dairy and creamery, milk 45 Nubian and Alpine goats and make nine varieties of goat milk cheeses. We sell at five or more farmer’s markets and over twenty restaurants in the Hudson Valley. We have just completed our first year of operation and are starting our second. We started up cheese production again in January. We focus on making our aged cheeses in the winter and turn to our fresh cheeses when the farmer’s markets start in June through October.
We seek a self-motivated, meticulous, and creative person interested in learning the craft of cheese making. The position is full time (about 40 hours/week - there is some flexibility, maybe more during the summer) starting April 1 through the end of October.
• Assist with basic processes of cheesemaking and affinage
• Assist with cheese packaging
• Maintain accurate, detailed records
• Maintain hygienic conditions including routine daily cleaning and intensive weekly cleaning
• Prepare and organize cheeses for farmers’ markets and other sales outlets
• Sell cheese at farmers’ markets.
We are able to offer a weekly stipend based on experience.
If interested, email your resume and a description of yourself and interests to Talitha at email@example.com.
There’s been much in the news about New York state dairies benefiting from the greek yogurt craze, but times are still tough for NY dairies. California’s dairy industry, in particular, poses a formidable threat, due to pricing advantages and more aggressive marketing strategies. Via the Albany Times-Union:
N.Y. dairies fear getting creamed by California
Golden State’s milk-pricing system offers big advantage
A few months ago, a new product appeared in the aisles of Price Chopper supermarkets. The store’s plainly-packaged private-label butter now also bore a seal heralding its primary ingredient, “Real California Milk.”
This new item – California-made butter in a Northeast supermarket chain – is only a more visible expression of a longstanding issue for New York dairy farmers: Even on home turf, California’s super-sized dairy industry presents some hearty competition.
“It’s so hard for us to compete,” said Jeff Wysocki, 50, a dairy farmer in Hoosick Falls.
California has long been the nation’s largest producer of milk.
A large part of California’s dairy edge stems from its milk pricing system, which is set by the state, rather than using the federal milk pricing system that most states utilize, including New York. Dairy farmers in California are often paid up to several dollars less per hundred pounds — about 12 gallons — of milk than farmers in New York. In December, preliminary average milk prices paid to farmers were $18.80 per hundred pounds of milk in California, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Farmers in New York received $22.20 per hundred pounds of milk in the same month.
Those milk prices often result in California-made dairy products that are sold at a lower cost than dairy produced in other states, giving California a competitive advantage nationally.
read the full story.
(Photo ©2013 TimesUnion.com)
Seems like there are a lot of cheese events coming up, and here’s another: coming to Sonoma County March 22nd-24th, California’s Artisan Cheese Festival:
Starting with the first festival in March 2007, this festival is the first-ever weekend-long celebration and exploration of handcrafted cheeses, foods, wines and beers from California and beyond. In our first six years more than 10,000 attendees have met more than a dozen international award-winning cheesemakers and learned how to taste, buy, serve and enjoy distinctive artisan cheeses from the experts. The educational seminars and tastings are led by cheese experts, cheesemakers, chefs and fromagiers from across the country, and virtually every session involves tastings and/or pairings of artisan cheeses. The festival features a wide variety of artisan cheeses from California and beyond, together with their artisan bread, food, wine and beer complements.
The festival helps the artisan cheesemaking community directly by contributing 10 percent of all ticket proceeds to nonprofit organizations that work to (1) protect and preserve the lands needed by the artisan cheesemakers for their cows, sheep and goats; (2) train and encourage the next generation of milk producers and cheesemakers; and (3) support the artisan cheesemaking community in California.
Participants include: Beehive Cheese Co., Bellwether Farms, Bleating Heart, Casitas Valley Creamery, Central Coast Creamery, Cowgirl Creamery, Cypress Grove Chevre, Garden Variety Cheese, Laura Chenel’s Chevre, Marin French Cheese Company, Nicasio Valley Cheese Company , North Bay Curds & Whey, Orland Farmstead Creamery, Pennyroyal Farm, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co., Pugs Leap Cheese, Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery, Shamrock Artisan Goat Cheese, Spring Hill Jersey Cheese, Two Rock Valley Cheese Company, Valley Ford Cheese Company, Weirach Farms, Willapa Hills Cheese, Winters Cheese
Get your tickets now!
Ever tasted Camel milk, or cheese? Truth is, I haven’t either, but that may change soon, if camel farmers and camel dairy producers can bring it to market:
Although the camel has a well-established reputation as a beast of burden, it also plays a lesser known but vital role within pastoral societies: milk producer. Many ruminants discontinue lactating in harsh climatic environments. However, camels continue to produce highly diluted milk containing over 90% water. Extreme drought conditions are no sweat for the dromedary—they maintain a regular body temperature without the need to perspire and can also lose up to 30 percent of their weight from water loss.
Camels are also adaptable feeders; their ability to digest dry matter and fiber allows them to eat a broad range of plants including thorny bushes and cacti. These traits, along with the camel’s ability to continue to produce a reliable source of nutrition in challenging environments, has led to an increased emphasis on camel milk’s potential to improve food security in drought prone regions.
Camel milk presents certain challenges to cheesemakers, however:
By now we’ve all seen grilled cheese food trucks, but how about a Fried Curd cheese truck? Coming to the streets of Philadelphia, thanks to The Cow And The Curd:
Philadelphia, the birthplace of scrapple, cheesesteaks, soda pop, and hoagies, is being invaded by a new food. Coming to our metro area via a food truck with distinctive graphic artistry on it are fried cheese curds, thanks to a new business, The Cow and the Curd.
Rather than processing the curds into cheese, the fine folks at The Cow and the Curd have developed a variety of batters, infusions, and sauces for their cheese curds, all to delight the palates of Philadelphians.
Some flavor variations, according to Rob Mitchell, are garlic, jalapeno pepper, berry-infused, and dill, for example. Add to that variations in the accompanying sauces, such as chipotle ranch or honey mustard, and you have practically unlimited combinations. The folks at The Cow and the Curd are looking into meat infusions, as well, such as burrito- or Philly cheesesteak-flavored curds. And they are continually perfecting their cheese curd recipes, too, making the curds primarily from white cheddar curds, as well as yellow cheddar. Muenster cheese curds may be next.
Flax: loaded with omega-3’s, it’s a popular dietary addition for health-conscious humans, and now a study from Oregon State University finds that feeding flaxseed to cows improves the nutritional profile of their milk:
Their milk contained more omega-3 fatty acids and less saturated fat, the study found. Diets high in saturated fat can increase cholesterol and cause heart disease, while those rich in omega-3 and other polyunsaturated fatty acids may reduce the risk of heart disease, studies have shown.
The study found that feeding cows up to six pounds of extruded flaxseed improved the fat profile without negatively affecting the production and texture of the milk and other dairy products. Extrusion presses raw ground flaxseed into pellets with heat.
At six pounds per day, saturated fatty acids in whole milk fat dropped 18 percent, poly-unsaturated fatty acids increased 82 percent, and omega-3 levels rose 70 percent compared to feeding no flaxseed. Similar improvements were observed in butter and cheese.
Although flaxseed costs more than traditional cattle feeds, Bobe hopes that it still could be an affordable feed supplement for cows because products enriched with omega-3 can sell for a premium at the grocery store.
“Many consumers already show a willingness to pay extra for value-added foods, like omega-3 enriched milk,” he said.
One thing is for sure, he said: Dairy farmers will have no trouble convincing cows to eat flaxseed.
“They loved it. They ate it like candy,” he said.
(Photo ©2013 Wikipedia.org/Sanjay Acharya)
Via newslite.tv, Swedish company DeLaval has created a self-grooming machine — essentially a car wash for cows, although I suspect the happy-making aspect has more to do with the scratching action than the cleaning — that keeps the cows happy and clean, while also boosting milk production:
July 22, 2010 6:30 PM
It looks like a car wash, but this ‘cow wash’ machine is actually the latest must-have gadget for farmers wanting to boost milk production
Designed by Swedish firm DeLaval, the swinging cow brush was created to act as a ‘self grooming’ device for cows to help keep themselves clean, healthier and happier.
This is because a happy cow is said to produce as much as 3.5 percent more milk and therefore be much more valuable for the farmer.
The device works by starting to rotate when a cow makes contact with it, and then spinning at a speed which is pleasurable for the cow as it moo-ves under it.
Given the success of cow wash machines - more than 30,000 have been sold - it can’t be long until the cows also start getting a pre-milking pedicure and makeover.
A spokesperson for DeLaval said: “A cow that grooms herself with the swinging cow brush can produce more milk from the exact same resources and input.
“That is one of the reasons why it is so popular among dairy farmers.
“Improved general health leads to less treatment and culling costs so cow health is improved and farmers’ profits boosted.”
Foreign cheese firms eye big slice of China’s market
China’s cheese market is booming as more diners in the nation take their first bite of this still relative newcomer to their plates, offering golden opportunities to cheese producers across the globe.
The nation’s cheese imports totaled $139.26 million in 2011, up from $105.45 million in the previous year, and $69.77 million in 2009, according to the Italian Trade Commission.
“Both foreign producers and domestic dairy giants are sending positive signals. More foreign brands want to come in, and sales in China are growing rather fast,” said Han Jin, general manager of Shanghai Roria Trading Co, a local distributor of imported food.
Han’s company sold 40 metric tons of imported cheese in 2009, and the figure rocketed to around 100 tons in 2011.
Entrepinares SAU from Spain and Parmalat SpA from Italy, both dairy giants in their own countries and globally, have been cooperating with Roria.
Parmalat saw its annual sales in China increase by more than 100 percent in the past year.
“The nation’s consumption of cheese is growing at a stunning speed,” he said.
Before 2008, all that Han knew about cheese was sweet-flavored milk extract produced in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region.
That is why he almost vomited when he had his first bite of Parmesan cheese from Italy. But he soon found the taste very attractive.
Read the full story here.