Monday, March 10, 2008

Farmstead Cheeses--Wave of the Future

As I’m traveling around the country, I’m seeing a rapid growth in a number of farmstead products being produced all over the USA. Two of the most prevalent and ones which I think have the potential to become the next product like American wine are; specialty cheeses and olive oil. I visited one of each this past week on a wonderful 1,100 mile trip through northern CA and will be blogging on them today and tomorrow.

“Dad and Mom moved our cows here on New Year’s Day 1999. We moved from Merced which is 3 hours south of here because we saw ourselves getting squeezed by the mega-dairies and wanted to maintain our small dairy operation. Plus, we wanted to add value to our product by making it into cheese,” Mandy Johnson was telling me about her Pedrozo Cheese that she produces every couple of days on their home dairy near Orland, CA.

Her dad, Tim Petrozo milks and cares for the 30 cows and Mandy makes the cheese and then sells it at farmers markets in the area. They produce about 200 pounds of cheese into nine different varieties all made from raw, whole milk. Each is a “semi-firm” Gouda and/or cheddar type of cheese. Some are made only in the spring when the grasses on the farm are at their best.

“Ours is the only grass fed cheese operation in the entire state,” Mandy related to me. My wife and I could attest to its wonderful texture and flavor as we snacked on it during our days of touring the north country. We also signed up for their cheese of the month club.

I’m convinced that you are going to be seeing many more farming operations like Pedrozo Dairy & Cheese Company. Producing a wonderful product like they are on only 20 acres of land shows what is possible.

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