Archive | November 2009

Raw-Milk Cheese

We are often asked about the differences between raw-milk cheese and cheese made from pasteurized milk. First, what is raw-milk cheese?

Cheese produced from milk that, prior to setting the curd, has not been heated above the temperature of the milk (104°F, 40°C) at the time of milking and that the cheese produced from that milk shall be aged for 60 days or longer at a temperature of not less than 35°F (2°C) in accordance with US FDA regulations.

The simple answer to why produce raw-milk cheeses is the flavor.  The complex mix of organisms naturally occurring in raw milk leads to a depth of flavor that pasteurized cheeses can’t really approach. That’s not to say that there aren’t any pasteurized cheeses that are excellent, nor are all raw-milk cheeses revelations, but the trend is undeniable.

In one study, researchers at France’s Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique made the same cheeses from both raw and pasteurized milk. The raw-milk versions developed flavor sooner and the flavor was richer and more complex. The researchers’ conclusion: Pasteurization alters the biochemistry and microbiology of ripening and thus the texture and flavor of the cheese.

All things being equal, raw milk will produce a more complex cheese than pasteurized milk.

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Heritage Breeds

Heritage Pigs

Tamworth Pigs A Heritage Breed

Many of you have become aware of the writings of Michael Pollan and his warnings about the dangers to our food system from the lack of biodiversity in foodstocks. Modern food production favors the use of a few highly specialized breeds selected for maximum output in a controlled environment. In many categories, there are only one or two breeds of livestock being raised commercially. These animals are chosen for traits such as fast time to market, ability to be confined, and the ability to convert cheap feed to finished weight. More often than not, taste and flavor are not even considered.

Many traditional livestock breeds have lost popularity and are threatened with extinction. These traditional breeds are an essential part of the American agricultural inheritance. Not only do they evoke our past, they are also an important resource for our future. These are called heritage breeds.

There is an awakening among small farmers of the value of raising heritage animals. They are better suited to the workings of the small farm. They flourish on pasture, are easier to raise, and provide a quality product that reminds us of the way things used to taste.

At Farmers & Artisans, we encourage our farmers to raise heritage breeds. Many of them are already doing so and others will be making the move to heritage breeds in the coming months. For example, all Blossom Hill Farm pork is heritage breed. For more information visit the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy and Heritage Breeds Conservancy.

Sustainability

SustainabilityCollectively, we are catching on to the fact that upholding a healthier planet means a more pro-active approach in our everyday life . With that said, sustainability simply means the ability to live with minimal negative effects on the environment. With green awareness and technology increasing each year, people are changing their everyday routines…all the while continuing to function in today’s busy society.

Although we all want to do our part, there are understandably economic and social obstacles. We all don’t have extra funds for solar panels or the time to build a bicycle powered washing machine. But surprisingly, there are small everyday decisions we can make to help attain a more sustainable lifestyle. Things like riding a bicycle or taking public transportation, supporting local businesses, and recycling are easily attainable. Other things that may come with time and repetition include skipping a meal of meat each week, conserving and utilizing gray water, and converting to wind-generated electricity.

Here at Farmers and Artisans we are doing our part as much as we can. We are locally owned and operated, providing you with WNY’s artisan and farmstead products. We are using organic ingredients whenever possible, energy efficient light bulbs, biodegradable cleaning products, compostable cups and silverware, and our recycle bin fills up faster than our trash. With hopes to compost in the future, and with more of our customers bringing in re-usable shopping bags on a regular basis, we know our sustainability will increase as our business progresses.