Posts filed under 'Makers'

Pure Luck Dairy Interview

CBH-logo2.jpgSometimes the most we can hope for in times of transition is that we will look back on them and feel proud of how we conducted ourselves while we were going through them. One of the benefits of the audio portion of our project lagging so seriously behind our actual tour is that there is an opportunity to listen to these segments and learn where some of our favorite farmers have come from- to honor their journey in this industry. Dripping Springs, Texas is fortunate to have this family-oriented, farmstead producer in their community. I hope to make it back there soon so I can ask Amelia how many goats they’re milking now…

Pure Luck Dairy Interview

Find previous posts about Pure Luck Dairy here.

Up next: Mozzarella Company
Again, if you want to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes, just search for Cheese by Hand in the iTunes store and click “Subscribe.”

Add comment March 25th, 2009

Bittersweet Plantation Dairy Interview

CBH-logo1.jpgCharacter. That is the first word that comes to mind when I think of Chef John Folse- followed closely by Dreamer. I’ve never met anyone like him and it was such a pleasure to spend a day with him learning about Cajun and Creole traditions. His passion is palpable and his projects are huge. We really dig this about him. Since we visited, Bittersweet has come out with a few more dairy products- namely yogurt, ice cream, cottage cheese and a cheese called Vache Sante.

Bittersweet Plantation Dairy Interview

Find previous posts about Bittersweet Plantation Dairy Farm here.

Up next: Pure Luck Dairy
Again, if you want to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes, just search for Cheese by Hand in the iTunes store and click “Subscribe.”

Add comment March 18th, 2009

Sweet Home Farm Interview

CBH-logo.jpgHonestly we could have almost posted this interview in its entirety because Alyce and Doug are so engaging. I never get tired of listening to them talk about cheesemaking or dairying let alone any of the other million hobbies they do. Listening to them over the past weeks I have been reminded of how absolutely they achieved their mission to create an operation that works for the two of them. They are back down to about a dozen milkers- all Guernseys and Alyce has taken on a big role as the president of the Raw Milk Cheesemakers Association. Listen and enjoy.

Sweet home Farm Interview

Find previous posts about Sweet Home Farm here.Up next: Bittersweet Plantation Dairy

Again, if you want to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes, just search for Cheese by Hand in the iTunes store and click “Subscribe.”

Add comment March 6th, 2009

Sweet Grass Dairy Interview

CBH-logo.jpgSweet Grass Dairy Interview

Listening to our conversation with Jessica and Jeremy Little is a perfect reminder of just how accessible the people making our food can be. Their honesty and humility still blow me away, not to mention their tenacity. Their operation is an inspiring example of the generation of cheesemakers who are broadening the artisan cheese market with high quality products. The real beauty of what they do (beyond their delicious cheeses) is that they do it with gratitude for the founders of the artisan cheese movement who, in addition to developing the products we’ve enjoyed for the past decades, also developed the market that newcomers get to step into today.

Read our other Sweet Grass Dairy posts here.

Up next: Sweet Home Farm

Again, if you want to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes, just search for Cheese by Hand in the iTunes store and click “Subscribe.”

Add comment January 27th, 2009

Protecting raw milk cheese in the U.S.

Most cheese enthusiasts in the U.S. are familiar with the impassioned debates about raw milk and raw milk cheese. Considering the massive amount of press time spent covering food safety issues I am doubtful that this issue will be resolved in the near future. Basically the laws within the U.S. prevent the production or importing of any cheeses made from raw (unpasteurized) milk that are not aged for 60 days or more. So all fresh cheeses and the majority of soft, gooey ones are made from pasteurized milk. Most cheesemakers have accepted this and developed cheeses accordingly- some masterful enough to create bloomy rind and pudgy washed rind cheeses that can clear the 60 day mark and still showcase flavors other than amonia. This is a real triumph considering that most cheesemakers here are learning affinage from scratch- not learning from their predecessors like producers can in Europe.

But there is still a lurking risk that at some point the FDA will decide that cheeses aged beyond 60 days should also be made from pasteurized milk. Thankfully we have a band of producers who are proactively working, with the FDA I might add, to prevent this from happening. A small, producer-run organization called the Raw Milk Cheesemakers Association has formed quietly and is working to support raw milk producers in developing their cheeses and also to develop plans called HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points). HACCP plans focus on examining the production process and creating many checkpoints and safeguards throughout production rather than relying on post-production inspection for food safety so that if/when the day comes that the FDA moves to strike raw milk cheese completely, the producers can present a united, organized front and show what they do make their products safely.

I spoke with Helen Feete of Meadow Creek Dairy recently about the development of the Raw Milk Cheesemakers Association (RMCA) and also the Slow Food Raw Milk Cheese Presidium. She has been involved with both efforts extensively as she believes strongly in protecting raw milk cheese production here in the U.S.

Before you listen to the first bit it is important to understand a bit about Slow Food and how the RMCA relates to it. Slow Food International and Slow Food USA both have been instrumental in fostering the development of this group. It all began with the formation of what Slow Food calls a “presidium” for American raw milk cheeses. As Slow Food puts it,

Slow Food Presidia work in different ways, but the goals remain constant: to promote artisan products; to stabilize production techniques; to establish stringent production standards and, above all, to guarantee a viable future for traditional foods.”

In the case of raw milk cheeses, Slow Food wanted a group of producers to work towards protecting the right to make cheese from raw milk- the most obvious approach being to methodically prove that these products can be produced safely. The American Raw Milk Cheese Presidium has developed protocols or rules that define specifically how raw milk cheese must be produced if they want to be part of the presidia- similar to production requirements of AOC or DOP products. The cheeses included in the Presidium are also representing American raw milk cheese at events home and abroad. Out of the work done by the presidium came the development of a related group called the Raw Milk Cheesemakers Association. This group is intended to be more of a working resource for raw milk cheesemakers to help them develop their products and practices.

One final important point: Membership in the Presidium happens only when a cheese is evaluated and accepted because it meets a set standard of taste and quality. The guidelines or protocols set by the Presidium for raw milk cheese production can be met over time but the producer must show a commitment to the protocols. Membership to the Raw Milk Cheesemakers Association is open to all- and that group exists to offer education and support to cheese producers in the U.S.
Here is Helen talking about getting the RMCA started:

RMCA purpose and development

Next Helen talks about the FDA focus on raw milk cheeses. She mentions Cathy Donnelly, a food safety expert at the University of Vermont who has been instrumental in creating a bridge between raw milk producers and the FDA.

Scrutiny of raw milk cheese in US

Helen on partnering with the FDA rather than fighting against them… Partnering with FDA

There have been some complaints about the protocols or guidelines set by the Presidium- some cheesemakers feel that the requirements are so stringent that they are unattainable for most small producers. Here is what Helen had to say about this:

Debate over protocols

Here are two other clips from my conversation with Helen that I find interesting:

Do producers agree about why raw milk cheese is important?

What can consumers do to support these groups?

Add comment July 14th, 2008

3 Corner Field Farm Interview

Cheese By Hand LogoWe actually visited 3 Corner on our way back into NYC at the end of our trip but felt that they ought to be included in the Northeast push because there are some common themes we find interesting. Stewardship, values, integrity- these are all things that Karen and Paul use as their guiding principles in their day to day operations. Every time they spoke we learned something- we hope you do too.

Karen in the field

3 Corner Field Farm Interview
Read our other posts about 3 Corner Field Farm here.

Up next: Cato Corner Farm

Again, if you want to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes, just search for Cheese by Hand in the iTunes store and click “Subscribe.”

Add comment June 17th, 2008

Westfield Farm Interview

Cheese By Hand LogoBob and Debbie at Westfield Farm are a rare find. They slipped into the artisan cheese business more serendipitously than many. After spending hours talking to them we felt lucky that Bob had followed his instincts right on out to Hubbardston, Massachusettes. Their frankness and candor get right at the heart of what it is to make a product with your own hands and then educate the public about it.

Westfield Farm Interview

Check out our other posts about Westfield Farm here.

Next up: 3 Corner Field Farm

Again, if you want to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes, just search for Cheese by Hand in the iTunes store and click “Subscribe.”

Add comment June 2nd, 2008

Willow Hill Farm Interview

Cheese By Hand LogoOur next visit is with Willow Smart & Dave Phinney at Willow Hill Farm. They manage a herd of approximately 85 sheep. Willow and Dave produce a number of cheeses (including Autumn Oak, Fernwood and La Fleurie) but also yogurt, lamb and wool. When we visited them, they were in the middle of construction on their new cheesemaking facility. Now that new space is operational.

Willow Hill Farm Interview
Chewing ewe in the solar barn

You can read other Cheese by Hand posts about Willow Hill Farm here.

Next Up: Appleton Creamery.

Again, if you want to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes, just search for Cheese by Hand in the iTunes store and click “Subscribe.”

Add comment March 11th, 2008

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