This weekend the American Cheese Society held its 23rd Annual Conference in Portland, OR. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to make it, but it sounds like the conference was a rousing success. According to David Grotenstein, chair of the ACS Competition Committee, this year's conference saw "record, sell-out crowds...and...an unprecedented number of entries for our annual Judging and Competition. 157 producers from 28 states (and two provinces) entered an astounding 941 cheeses, almost 200 more than last year's record 749."
The Best in Show award, given last year to Uplands Cheese Company's Pleasant Ridge Reserve, went to Vermont's Cabot Creamery for their Clothbound Cheddar. Made at Cabot's production facility from the
The Wisconsin State Journal is reporting that state officials with the Dairy Business Innovation Center are trying to remake the image of Wisconsin cheesemaking toward one more focused on specialty and artisanal cheeses.
Wisconsin produced 2.4 billion pounds of cheese last year and is worried that California, which produced 2 billion pounds, will soon surpass the state in cheese production. In addition, the profit margins on specialty cheese are far higher than on industrial products. As reported in the article,
Cato Corner Farm, located 30 miles southwest of Hartford in Colchester, CT, produces some of the best artisanal raw cow's milk cheeses in the country. Run by a mother-son team, the farm has 30 Jersey cows that are raised on pasture without the use of hormones or subtherapeutic antibiotics.
Hooligan, which is only one of the many different varieties of cheese made at the farm, is a treat for all the senses. A stinky washed-rind cheese with a delicious mushroomy flavor, it comes in wheels that are
Further proof that Listeria outbreaks are not solely a problem of raw dairy products: Swiss-American, Inc., of St. Louis, MO, on Thursday announced a recall of their Cut Cahill's Farm Porter Cheese, a pasteurized cheese made with porter ale. Samples of the cheese were found to contain Listeria monocytogenes, a bacteria that causes gastrointestinal distress in humans. It is generally harmless for most people (except for the diarrhea, nausea and vomiting), but it is especially dangerous for pregnant women where it can cause miscarriages and stillbirths.
L. monocytogenes is usually killed off in the process of pasteurization, and is often cited as one of the reasons why consuming raw dairy is deemed unsafe. However, as in this case, it is still possible for listeria infection to occur in
The Morning Sentinel, a local newspaper "serving Maine's Northern Kennebec Valley," has posted an interesting article about the state's growing artisanal cheese business.
Shelley Doak, director of animal heath and industry for the Maine Department of Agriculture said cheese making is the fastest-growing aspect of the dairy industry. The state's fledgling industry produced 150,000
Cheese by Hand is a project recently undertaken by husband & wife team Michael Claypool and Sasha Davies. Michael is the former assistant sommelier at Blue Hill Stone Barns, while Sasha is the affineur at Murray's Cheese. In April of this year, Michael and Sasha will venture cross-country visiting with
Colorado's Bingham Hill, one of America's best cheesemakers, announced last Thursday that it was shutting its doors after roughly six years in business. According to their official press release:
In June 2005, Bingham Hill lost a customer that represented around 50 percent of annual revenues. Attempts were made to replace the customer, but while several new accounts were landed, none approached the volume of the lost customer. As a result, Bingham Hill experienced several consecutive months of negative cash flow.
The National Farmers Union, an organization formed to "sustain and strengthen family farms and ranch agriculture," has released a response to the FDA's proposal to change the definition of milk. Now the last time I checked, the definition of milk was pretty straightforward: "A whitish liquid containing proteins, fats, lactose, and various vitamins and minerals that is produced by the mammary glands of all mature female mammals after they have given birth and serves as nourishment for their young." The FDA, however, is proposing to amend the definition of milk, at least as it relates to cheese production. They want to provide for
Adding fuel to the fire of the raw milk debate, here's an interesting AP story about Maple Shade Farm, a cheesemaker in Western Massachusettes attempting to build back their business following an FDA recall due to trace amounts of listeria in their Berkshire Blue cheese.
Michael Miller, who runs the creamery, argues that the number of listeria in the cheese was scant, and that the FDA used an incubator as well as a synthetic growth hormone to grow enough bacteria to show up on a test. Even so, apparently as few as 1,000 cells of listeria can cause infection, and given the public health risks, even trace amounts are unsafe.