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Edward Behr’s Thoughts on Cheese

“…these days dairy operations are so hygienic that raw milk is likely to be too clean for cheesemaking,  without enough microlife to do the work.” (Behr, Edward.  Making Your Own Fresh Cheese)

Imagine this thought…milk being too clean!  Being part of a society completely obsessed with cleanliness in all forms, we have lost confidence in the process food goes through to get to our hands.  We think, cleaner must be better in order to guarantee that our powdered milk from Australia will not contaminate us!  Yet this statement is at the very heart of what is wrong with the dairy industry.  And let us not limit ourselves…let us say the ultimate problem with the ENTIRE food industry is connected to this dairy issue: “The US market so far does not differentiate between regional milk and world milk.  Prices are linked, and small fluctuations in supply send the price to one or the other extreme.”  (Behr)

We have no choice in this type of market, as a farmer, cheese maker, and cheese monger.  We must be instrumental in changes not only within the art and expression of cheese making, but also in the legislative and business centric world view.  To be an artisan cheese maker means that with every artistic stride or nuance, a new business and legislative cushion must be made.  

Our craft is living, breathing.  

It is to be consumed, not just to be pleasing to the eye.  

It must stimulate all of the senses, revolutionize the palate, and still be….safe….

This brings me back to the idea of Nourishment that I touched on briefly before in my cheese rant.  How do we change the mindset that small production is UNSAFE?  How do we trust in our community that desires deeply to provide for us if given the chance?

Yet, can we eat with confidence in a world of mass production outbreaks of salmonella, e.coli, listeria, and many more to come?  

The story seems to be what feeds us.  We cherish food that is made by our mother, our grandmother, our father.  Food producers are our basic providers of life force.

 Yet how can this life force be powerful and expressive?  

Everyone thinks back fondly on a grandiose feast or two in one’s life made by friends or family.  Imagine that food energy brought to the day to day existence, igniting culture, story telling, and community support.   

The primary goal is to make small, diversified food economies viable.  By doing so, we can protect our land and our right to bountiful, rich, small plots.

To me, this reconnects us to our American heritage of property rights for one and all.  The ground beneath us is living, and its waits for an invitation for a land-human pact.  We engage in this pact whether or not we are aware and whether or not we have that piece of paper that deems our land “owned.”  

The land also owns us.  And it will work for us if we understand its microbial energy and nutrients.   We strive for effectiveness and efficiency within global technology and the global economy, so why not expand these values towards food production and land development?  It is when our conceptual, economic perspective of development and growth becomes displaced from the land upon which we live, that our relationship with what we consume is weakened and we cannot use our surrounding environment to its full potential.  

As the professional baker, Chad Roboertson says, “The key is to arrange your schedule to achieve convenience without compromise.”   If we let local, raw milk do what it does best-which is “sour”-we can obtain complex, whole foods that provide the most nourishment and yield the most reverence.  First, however, we must battle, coerce, and seduce this global market into a whole new scheme.

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