Monday, April 12, 2010

Four Years Later

Happy day, cheese fans. In calendar news, I just realized that four years ago this month I started writing about Wisconsin cheese here on Cheese Underground. About 260 posts later, one might wonder if I'm in danger of running out of material.

Nope.

In fact, there's so much going on today that you're going to have to settle for a Monday mash-up. Here's the scoop, people:

Edible Madison to Launch in June: one of my favorite people, Jamie Johnson of Soldiers Grove, Wis., has launched her own company and magazine, celebrating the food of southern Wisconsin. Way to go, Jamie! Edible Madison will be a quarterly publication focusing on our region's food and agriculture and will feature stories about local farmers, food producers, chefs, food educators and forward-thinking organizations that are behind the region’s dynamic local food movement. In exciting news, I'll be writing a regular Wisconsin cheese column starting with the Fall issue, and a launch party is being set for June at Fromagination in Madison. Whoo-hoo!

Red Barn Family Farms Heritage Weis Cheddar: another one of my favorite people, Dr. Terry Homan, the veterinarian who started his own milk bottling company called Red Barn Family Farms, is now producing a great-tasting Cheddar. Called Heritage Weis, it's a true cheddar that's hand-milled and cloth-wrapped made by the folks at Springside Cheese Factory in Oconto Falls, Wis. It's mostly available in Wisconsin -- see a list of retail locations. Dr. Homan is the founder of the Red Barn Rules -- a list of animal care rules that farmers supplying milk to Red Barn must follow. These rules go above and beyond the American Human Association certification, so you know the milk that goes into Heritage Weis is coming from happy cows.

Carr Valley Cooking School: A series of nine cooking classes at Carr Valley Cheese in Sauk City kicked off this month. Classes are a great chance to meet your favorite chefs, and taste their creations using Carr Valley cheeses. Each class costs $45 and is well worth the price. I'm signed up for the May 20 "To Dream or Not to Dream" class with Chef Jason Gorman of The Dream Dance restaurant in Milwaukee. We'll be getting "A New Perspective on Steak and Cheese." Yum - my two favorite food groups. More info or sign up here.

Kelley Country Creamery to Host Grand Opening on June 19 -- I've been waiting for this date to be announced and you can bet I'll be there. The Kelley family will open the doors of their farmstead ice cream factory on Saturday, June 19 with farm tours, free samples and kids' activities. Karen and Tim Kelley, and their five children, operate a 200-acre farmstead dairy near Fond du Lac, Wis., and milk 65 Holsteins. That milk is being readied to turn into amazing ice cream in such flavors as Kelley's Irish Cream, Karen's Crazy Cake, Pitch Fork Pistachio and Country Bumpkin Pumpkin. Stay tuned for more info, but save the date now.

And that's the news for this Monday. See what I mean about never running out of material? There's just too much stuff going on in America's Dairyland.

6 comments:

HarryBright said...

Why would a company produce high quality milk and then put it in plastic bottles that are probably leaching all kinds of chemicals into the milk. Please don't tell me that the bottles are free of BP
A and therefore safe because the ag dept, in the US, has not yet agreed with the rest of the world that BPA is a killer. In the future we will find numerous other chemicals leaching from plastic. I understand that glass is much harder to work with but if you actually believe in your products and go to great lengths to be sure the animals are treated humanely why would you then poison your customers? I'm confused.

Bill Anderson said...

Why? Because plastic jugs are cheaper and more convenient. You don't have to go through the trouble of charging a deposit, having bottle collection arrangements, and cleaning the glass bottles.

Never mind that you produce a superior product when you put it in glass. That does not matter in the great state of WI. As long as everything can be white-washed and word smithed by well-paid marketers, then mediocre quality dairy products will continue to be the norm.

I'm curious if Red Barn homogenizes their milk too? Seeing no mention of "cream-line" on their website suggests to me that they do. Pastuerization is understandable because of the legal mandate (and legitimate food safety concerns if you are commingling milk from multiple farms) but homogenization is about one of the worst things you can do to milk. Especially if you take pride in the quality of the milk being produced.

It seems to be another example of expensive marketing glossing over poor production practices.

Sandy said...

Ah .. I see Frick & Frack, otherwise known as Harry Bright and Bill Anderson have emerged. Have either of you actually had the Red Barn milk? Why do you continue to judge people whom you've probably never even met? Just because a product doesn't meet your personal specifications of perfection(sorry Bill -- it's still a law in Wisconsin that all milk has to be pasteurized for sale in stores, duh!) doesn't give you license to trash someone's reputation.

Bill Anderson said...

Sandy -- can you address the issues we raise, rather than get defensive about it?

The milk is in plastic jugs. It is homogenized. Do you dispute these facts? Or do you dispute that plastic jugs and homogenization are bad things?

One can legally sell non-homogenized milk in glass bottles on the grocery store shelf in Wisconsin, so long as it is pastuerized. Nick Kirsch was doing this for a number of years, until DATCP produced faulty evidence that he failed to properly pastuerize the milk. (Ask me if you are curious about the details of the faulty evidence.) They sent out a press release on Thanksgiving day to warn consumers not to drink Blue Marble Milk, after most of them had already consumed it. No one got sick, but they did put him out of bussiness.

Welcome to Wisconsin, America's corporate-controlled dairyland. Now can you explain why milk should be jugged in plastic and homogenized? The only good reason I can think of for homogenization is to hide the fact that the milk has been skimmed of most of its butterfat.

HarryBright said...

Bill:

I don't see any information from Sandy, just whinging.

You Homogenize because you pasteurise. When you pasteurise milk all of those dead bacteria sink to the bottom and create what the industry calls sludge. You can try to filter it out, expensive and iffy or you can homogenize to mix it into the milk so that it does not come out of solution. Great shelf life. When you homogenize you push the milk over a point (actually a very small valve) at tremendous pressure and this tears the fat to pieces which releases all kinds of enzymes that your body doesn't know how to deal with because in nature they did not exist. And you were exactly right the plastic is because its quicker and cheaper. Money is the key here. Sandy wasn't really listening when she suggested that you should taste the milk. I have tasted it and its fine, certainly no better then what I usually drink, Crystal Farms Creamline in glass, but OK. That is not the point. The point is that it contains all of the things leaching out of the plastic which does not have a taste. I guess Sandy might want to try milk from Red Barn and then the same milk from the, now banned, sippy cups that are leaching BPA into our bodies. Do you notice the difference in taste.

I was just amazed that a person that falls all over himself to praise his concern for the humane treatment of the cows has no consideration for the humane treatment of humans. Stop poisoning us.

HB

Bill Anderson said...

I'm well aware of what homogenization is. And I agree with you that it is very bad from a health perspective, because of how it alters the fats in the milk into an unnatural state.

My philosophy with high-quality milk is that it should always be handled as gently as possible. The more violently you handle the milk (pumping, agitating, churning, etc..) the more you tend to cause the butterfat membranes to rupture, thus causing rancidity, lipolysis, and increasing the amount of butterfat lost to the whey in cheesemaking (because it has been churned and can no longer be incorporated into the casien matrix)

Of course, none of this matters if you are just going to homogenize and pastuerize the milk anyways. Note that homogenized milk which has not yet been pastuerized will go rancid very quickly because of how violent the homogenization process is on the butterfat.

Still, the only good reason I can think of to homogenize milk is to hide the fact to the consumer that s/he is being robbed of butter fat. Personally, I would rather just not drink milk than drink milk that has been homogenized. I will drink pastuerized milk if it is from a single high-quality source, but as always my preference is the real stuff.

Its too bad how disconnected Americans have become from the source of our food. I do think there is a growing movement to get back to the source, but we are still in a minority and it is still an uphill struggle.