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Excerpt on FARMSTEAD CHEESEMAKING from the forward by Patrick Rance in the book 'Cheeses of the World' 1993.

In the New World, cheese makers introduced Old World cheeses and also established native originals. The traditional artisanal cheeses are a different class of food from modern industrial products. The later are tailored to mass-trade convenience, rather than to customers' requirements. The difference, and the lessons learned, should be studied in those parts of the world where mistakes made in the West can still be avoided. They begin literally at the grass-roots level.

Industrial cheese makers (with some Fench exceptions) disregard healthy tradition in farming and dairy. New wave and surviving traditional cheese making farmers constantly repay the soil organically the goodness used up by grazing beasts and hay making. Their permanent grassland can harbour fifty or more native plant species, ensuring disease resistance, and a longer productivity as the various species follow each other throughout the season. As with vines and wine, the older the pastures, the richer the cheese in bouquet and flavor. Higher yield is stimulated by close grazing: not only by manure and the benefits of grazers' feet to the tilth, but the growth stimulant in their saliva as the tackle the first three inches of plant shoots. This can raise yields by one seventh, and gives the animal the most nourishing part of the plant. There are two basic reasons for cheese makers to keep the tradition on the farm. First, multi-species permanent pastures yield milk for vintage cheese; their variety is good for the animals, and the animals love it. (One and two species is the bovine equivalent to junk food).

Second, the entire structure of local character, aroma, flavor, and healthy bacterial balance in milk and cheese is undermined by chemical fertilizers and sprays: "Soils have an enormous influence on pastures, but it has been largely obliterated by modern grassland management." Chemicals destroy much of the bacterial, insect and worm population that nourish and aerate the soil, which is thus affected. This discourages deep root penetration of legumes whose rhyzomes naturally entrap nitogen for themselves and plant neighbors.

Organic farming cherishes soil life, enriches the earth and perpetuates the healthy balance and variety of local species. Soil bacteria and minerals are transmitted via the plant oils into the body fat and mammary glands of the grazing animal along with the plant's aromatic esters. They pass with the milk fat into the cheese, provided the milk is used raw, and the fat is not removed.

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The Cheese Queen is in Food and Wine and Barbara Kingsolver's
book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle!

Thanks for joining our cheese making family, keep those stories & photos coming. We love to hear from you!

In Peace,
Ricki, the cheese queen

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