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2010 Wrap Up, Part 4: One era ending, nothing beginning.

2010 saw the death of two important cheese people who I knew: Jim Boyce, who reenergized Marin French Cheese, the oldest continually operating cheese plant in the country and Kathy Obringer who was making great cheese at Ancient Heritage Dairy in Oregon. Though both these folks died before their time, it’s a sad fact that many of the folks who started the reinvigoration of small cheese production in this country are aging. Cheesemaking is a vocation for the patient. Many of the folks who began reigniting this tradition of started their work in the ‘70s or early ‘80s. That means they’ve been at it for 30 years or so. A number of them, especially the goat folks, were back-to-landers who do not have children who wish to carry on their cheese legacy. What’s going to happen? What will happen in the future is an open question. Some, like Sally Jackson will sell their animals and equipment and retire. Some, like the Gingriches of Uplands Cheese passed on the cheesemaking mantle to a younger generation. Others, like Mary Keehn of Cypress Grove will keep their legacy – and rural jobs – alive by selling their companies. That these companies may get sold to companies not rooted in the local area may change the nature of the new American cheese business. When one looks at the pictures of the first years of the American Cheese Society conferences it’s clear that those folks were in it for the passion, obsession, love of the animals or completely by accident. There were no flighty sales reps in those pictures, no one in suits (except for possibly a European guest or dairy science professor here and there). The ACS was an organization of mutual aid in large part. The only people crazy enough to try to make small production cheese had to stick together. Those days are long gone, as days tend to be, but a lot of the original folk are still around right now. You can still meet them at conferences and bask in the oral tradition of craft cheesemaking history around the bar! However, the way the math works out, we are looking at the last remaining years of this generation actively working in the business. I have my worries about the future,* but either way this era of the cheese world is ending and a new one beginning. I just want to take this opportunity to say thanks to all the original cheese visionaries in this country. You’ve changed our agricultural world. mansfield cheeese *I am a worrier by nature. That’s why my girlfriend insisted we get a terrier because we’d be so well suited for each other. Read the original post on Gordonzola’s blog.
cheesemonger Gordon Edgar is the author of Cheesemonger: A Life on the Wedge.

Great Cheeses from ACS 2012: Part 1

I am only mentioning cheeses that are new to me here because – as anyone there can attest – there were too many awesome cheeses for one person to blog about. My versions of these from past years are still pretty much valid, so check those out as well if you want. Here is a […] Read More..

American Cheese Society 2012: Judging

Whenever I get a chance to be a cheese judge at the American Cheese Society Conference, I grab it. I really do love it. I am honored to be asked – and that is part of it – but I love it mostly because it is pure cheese: just me, my mouth, and 1771 anonymous […] Read More..

Gordonzola’s Humble Suggestions for Getting the Most out of the Cheese Conference

I’ve lost track of how many ACS conferences I have attended. I pretty sure I have attended every one not on the East Coast since 1999. Almost universally, they have been awesome experiences that have taught me innumerable things about cheese and introduced me to people I otherwise might never have met. Back when I […] Read More..

New facebook page

I started a new facebook page because during vacation it dawned on me that I really wish I hadn’t given the “Cheesemonger” facebook page the name of my book. For one reason, it’ll be confusing when my next book comes out. For another, it’s embarrassing commenting on other people’s facebooks as “Cheesemonger: A Life on […] Read More..

When Cheese Goes Bad

There are times of the year I associate with bad cheese. Usually it is after a holiday, when a distributor has bought too much of something perishable that didn’t sell. Buyers are alerted to these deals with flyers titled things like “Hot Sheet”, “Killer Deals”, and “Margin Builders.” This is definitely risky buying for the […] Read More..