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Meaning Of "Artisanal"


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I love Humboldt Fog, but I gotta admit this makes me concerned. If this California cheesemaker is producing enough of this cheese that it is being sold by a huge supermarket chain on the other side of the country, how much longer can we call it truly "artisanal"?

Does Artisinal have to mean small? Does scarcity make it better? Don't we buy Eppoise's here in the USA and the entire world for that matter? They are all made in Burgundy, and the quality/flavor is good. So why should an American "Artisanal" cheese be any different? Or does the "snob" appeal make it better also?

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Does Artisinal have to mean small? Does scarcity make it better? Don't we buy Eppoise's here in the USA and the entire world for that matter? They are all made in Burgundy, and the quality/flavor is good. So why should an American "Artisanal" cheese be any different? Or does the "snob" appeal make it better also?

"The word "artisan" or "artisanal" implies that a cheese is produced primarily by hand, in small batches, with particular attention paid to the tradition of the cheesemaker's art, and thus using as little mechanization as possible in the production of the cheese. Artisan, or artisanal, cheeses may be made from all types of milk and may include various flavorings." –The American Cheese Society

It really doesn't take that large a company to make a huge amount of cheese relative to the fine cheese market. The proof is in the eating and in the nature of the cheeses themselves. If they are seasonal, well (mostly by hand) made, and they reflect the terroir of where they are made, then they are artisanal. If they are made strictly for uniformity, they are industrial production. There are small producers of reggiano or ementaler who are industrial even though they are hand making tier cheese because they are going for a uniform product that only reflects a large production zone's characteristic. There are other producers of the same size whose aim is to make the best, most individual cheese they can and they are artisan.

Cypress Grove probably has about 20 to 30 employees. They hand ladel their fresh and ripened cheeses. Their block cheeses are mostly sent out to be mmade and I am not a fan of those. At least as far as their fresh & ripened cheeses are concerned they are still pretty artisanal to me.

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"The word "artisan" or "artisanal" implies that a cheese is produced primarily by hand, in small batches, with particular attention paid to the tradition of the cheesemaker's art, and thus using as little mechanization as possible in the production of the cheese. Artisan, or artisanal, cheeses may be made from all types of milk and may include various flavorings." –The American Cheese Society

It really doesn't take that large a company to make a huge amount of cheese relative to the fine cheese market. The proof is in the eating and in the nature of the cheeses themselves. If they are seasonal, well (mostly by hand) made, and they reflect the terroir of where they are made, then they are artisanal. If they are made strictly for uniformity, they are industrial production. There are small producers of reggiano or ementaler who are industrial even though they are hand making tier cheese because they are going for a uniform product that only reflects a large production zone's characteristic. There are other producers of the same size whose aim is to make the best, most individual cheese they can and they are artisan.

Cypress Grove probably has about 20 to 30 employees. They hand ladel their fresh and ripened cheeses. Their block cheeses are mostly sent out to be mmade and I am not a fan of those. At least as far as their fresh & ripened cheeses are concerned they are still pretty artisanal to me.

I've had a lot of pretty lame American "artisanal" cheese, and a lot of very good cheese made by what I assume are fairly un-artisanal European Co-ops (and good American and bad European cheese, as well). Annual production of Pont L'eveque is 3500 tons, who knows how many of those huge wheels of Regianno get produced in a year? (not Wikipedia, apparently)

Unless they have outstripped their supply of quality milk and help, a concerned cheesemaker should be able to ramp up production and still maintain quality (and wouldn't it be great if the prices came down?)

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The other day at Whole Foods (Bethesda) I bought one of the most delicious cheeses I've had in years: Monocacy Silver, made by Cherry Glen Farms in Boyds, MD. It's a very mild chevre, and I cut into it at a nice stage of ripeness, wuthg the paste totally runny near the rind but nicely creamy deeper inside. It has a fresh, clean, light flavor. Good cheese from Montgomery County. Who'd've thought it?

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The other day at Whole Foods (Bethesda) I bought one of the most delicious cheeses I've had in years: Monocacy Silver, made by Cherry Glen Farms in Boyds, MD. It's a very mild chevre, and I cut into it at a nice stage of ripeness, wuthg the paste totally runny near the rind but nicely creamy deeper inside. It has a fresh, clean, light flavor. Good cheese from Montgomery County. Who'd've thought it?

We also carry the Cherry Glen cheeses at Cheesetique. I've been out to the farm several times - at less than an hour away from DC, Diane and Sharon are our city's closest cheesemakers. Try the Monocacy Ash - its similar to the Silver, but with a ribbon of ash through the center and underneath the rind.

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The same time Euros did. It does make me wonder who is buying it all, particularly the soft-ripening ones.

While I'm sure that has something to do with it, it can't be the whole story. My rudimentary understanding of economics suggests to me that if European cheese becomes more expensive because of exchange rates, non-European cheese will gain a competitive advantage. But American and Canadian cheese prices have skyrocketed as well. A few months ago, I was talking to the estimable Carlos Estrada, the manager of the cheese counter at Calvert Woodley. I was looking for Oka, a Canadian cheese which for ages was a less expensive alternative to Chimay, and possibly an even better cheese. Carlos told me that no one carried it any more, because the wholesale price had gone up to (I think) $24 a pound. Now why any cheese-maker would price itself out of the American market like that is a mystery to me, but surely it's not because of the dollar-euro exchange rate.

To put this plausibly back on-topic, I loathe the word "artisanal", which is new-fangled and bogus. New word formations with -AL endings are always suspect. "Artisan" by itself can perform an adjectival (that's an old one)role perfectly well. What I REALLY destest is the ar-TEE-zun-ul pronunciation. Whenever I hear somebody say it that way I just want to smack their face.

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To put this plausibly back on-topic, I loathe the word "artisanal", which is new-fangled and bogus.

Why? Unlike many words now popular in food circles ("source" as a verb springs to mind, as does "mixologist") artisanal is a perfectly fine word that fills what had been an empty space in the language (as "craft" and "microbrew" did for beer).

What I REALLY destest is the ar-TEE-zun-ul pronunciation. Whenever I hear somebody say it that way I just want to smack their face.

It's the only possible pronunciation that doesn't sound like a mispronunciation.

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Why? Unlike many words now popular in food circles ("source" as a verb springs to mind, as does "mixologist") artisanal is a perfectly fine word that fills what had been an empty space in the language (as "craft" and "microbrew" did for beer).

No it doesn't. There was no gap, and "artisanal" isn't perfectly fine. "Artisan" or "craft" or "quality" work perfectly well as cheese-modifiers, and have the advantage of not being stupid.

It's the only possible pronunciation that doesn't sound like a mispronunciation.

I would prefer that this idiotic word not be used at all, but if it must be, it should be pronounced AR-ti-zun-ul. Why on earth would anyone want to change the stress to the second syllable AND wantonly and bizarrely change the vowel?

Not that I have an opinion on this.

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No it doesn't. There was no gap, and "artisanal" isn't perfectly fine. "Artisan" or "craft" or "quality" work perfectly well as cheese-modifiers, and have the advantage of not being stupid.

I would prefer that this idiotic word not be used at all, but if it must be, it should be pronounced AR-ti-zun-ul. Why on earth would anyone want to change the stress to the second syllable AND wantonly and bizarrely change the vowel?

Not that I have an opinion on this.

Man, I hate to even broach this, but the plural of this word in (its original) French is artisanaux (or artisanales if everything is feminine). :unsure:

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Artisan is a noun, i.e. a stupid craftsman

Artisanal is an adjective, i.e. made by or having the qualities of a stupid craftsman

In this English language thing, most nouns can serve as attributive adjectives: a book report, a piano sonata, a hammer blow, a snow storm, an idiot wind, an artillery emplacement, a surprise party, a yeoman farmer, a craft beer, an artisan cheese. See?

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In this English language thing, most nouns can serve as attributive adjectives: a book report, a piano sonata, a hammer blow, a snow storm, an idiot wind, an artillery emplacement, a surprise party, a yeoman farmer, a craft beer, an artisan cheese. See?

I actually prefer artisan to artisanal in English, FWIW.

That said, the direct parallel in your examples would be "craftsman beer" which doesn't sound so good. :P

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No it doesn't. There was no gap, and "artisanal" isn't perfectly fine. "Artisan" or "craft" or "quality" work perfectly well as cheese-modifiers, and have the advantage of not being stupid.

"Craft" would work fine but -- for the same obscure reason that a gang of lions is a "pride" while a gang of geese is a "gaggle" -- "craft" applies to beer and "artisanal" applies to cheese. "Quality" is too general. And, regarding the gap, I'm waiting for the word previously applied to cheese made in small quantities by non-industrial means. Artisanal is a single word that means "made in small quantities by concerned individuals or cooperatives and showing a quality, nuance and flavor not present in the cheddar brick you bought at the Safeway" and, as such, makes the language more accurate and easier to use. As such, it is a net positive.

I would prefer that this idiotic word not be used at all, but if it must be, it should be pronounced AR-ti-zun-ul. Why on earth would anyone want to change the stress to the second syllable AND wantonly and bizarrely change the vowel?

AR-ti-zun-ul sounds like you're clearing your throat, or maybe coughing up random syllables like a cat with a hairball.

Also, what Poivrot Farci said.

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"Craft" would work fine -- for the same reason that a gang of lions is a "pride" while a gang of geese is a "gaggle" -- "craft" applies to beer and "artisanal" applies to cheese. "Quality" is too general. And, regarding the gap, I'm waiting for the word previously applied to cheese made in small quantities by non-industrial means. Artisanal is a single word that means "made in small quantities by concerned individuals or cooperatives and showing a quality, nuance and flavor not present in the cheddar brick you bought at the Safeway" and, as such, makes the language more accurate and easier to use. As such, it is a net positive.

AR-ti-zun-ul sounds like you're clearing your throat, or maybe coughing up random syllables like a cat with a hairball.

Also, what Poivrot Farci said.

I dare you to walk into Cheesetique and tell them you want some craft cheese. :)

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"Craft" would work fine -- for the same reason that a gang of lions is a "pride" while a gang of geese is a "gaggle" -- "craft" applies to beer and "artisanal" applies to cheese. "Quality" is too general. And, regarding the gap, I'm waiting for the word previously applied to cheese made in small quantities by non-industrial means. Artisanal is a single word that means "made in small quantities by concerned individuals or cooperatives and showing a quality, nuance and flavor not present in the cheddar brick you bought at the Safeway" and, as such, makes the language more accurate and easier to use. As such, it is a net positive.

Artisanal in the sense under consideration here is first attested in 1983, in the New York Times, and applied to bread. Of the other three citations in the OED, one is about cheese (not until 1995), one calvados, and one birdhouses. But there is no sense conveyed by "artisanal", whether referring to a baguette, a wheel of cheese, a bottle of calvados, or a sanctuary for birds, that would not be identically conveyed by "artisan", about which I believe there is no dispute as to pronunciation. The pronunciation of "artisinal" you profess to prefer is not listed in the OED entry, which indicates that it is even more new-fangled than this use of the word itself; alas, my preferred pronunciation (of a word I deprecate and will not use) isn't given either. The four pronunciations they give (two British, two American) are all stressed on the second syllable, with the vowel of that syllable being the same as the first vowel in "tizzy".

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Not meaning to take any sides in, or to derail, this important debate -

but I do love this Artisanal Pencil Sharpening (by David Rees, cartoonist of Get Your War On "fame")

The pencils shown in the ad were clearly machine-sharpened; the fact that the machine may have been hand-cranked doesn't make the process "artisanal" at all. Wait till the Occupy DC folks hear about this!

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Michelangelo Buonarroti was a painter, sculptor and architect. Oh, and a poet. He was also an artisan.

It used to be a matter of class and degrees of social mobility within a given culture at a given time that made someone an apprentice and ultimately a craftsman. While certain wealthy members of upper/merchant classes might not distinguish among craftsmen--brick layers, wine makers, and painters--in paying for tasks performed, others would pay based upon new, "modern" criteria: recognized skill and quality which ultimately became associated with intellectual gifts and not merely training and mastery. Cf. Michael Baxandall on fifteenth-century Italy, mostly Florence. It took a long time and a lot of effort to invent the notion of artistic genius and wrest those designated as artists and geniuses from the baser category of "artisan", thereby making the latter appear stupid in comparison.

The Industrial Revolution and Walter Benjamin's essay "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" are perhaps more relevant. The Arts & Crafts movement and Die Brücke, too. We romanticize things hand-produced, especially those with idiosyncratic signs of their uniqueness. Cottage industries over corporate ones. The small family farm vs. the agribusiness. We do not think the artisan is as alienated from her craft as the factory worker is from her labor.

The sweet little, hand-shaped log of chevre from a small-scale producer is artisanal whereas the less costly option at Trader Joe's is not, though I wouldn't be surprised were Trader Joe's to mechanically print the word "Artisanal" on some of its products. Kraft is easy to dismiss, but what about Parmigiano Reggiano? Large-scale production, but by individual members of a larger cooperative with lots of hands-on activity by people dressed like factory workers in pristine, sterile environments?

Is Ferran Adrià an artisan?

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Is Ferran Adrià an artisan?

On the artisan-artist spectrum, you have the no-name line cook, faithfully cranking out dishes, standing on one end, and Michel Richard standing on the other (and people like Eric Ziebold doing a split). Common wisdom is that you work your way "up" the scale, but I don't see it like that. Both Michael Chang and Roger Federer have won the French Open, Chang the artisan, Federer the artist. One is more famous than the other, yes, but they both have their names on the cup.

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... I wouldn't be surprised were Trader Joe's to mechanically print the word "Artisanal" on some of its products.

Domino's pizza has already spoiled the reverence. Particularly the "Artisan -Spinach & Feta":

Alfredo Sauce: Water, Cream (Cream, Milk), Parmesan Cheese (Part-Skim Milk,

Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes), Asiago Cheese (Pasteurized Milk, Cheese Culture,

Salt, Enzymes), Margarine (Palm Oil, Water, Salt, Vegetable Monoglycerides, Whey

Solids, Sodium Benzoate [Preservative], Natural And Artificial Flavor, Citric Acid, Beta

Carotene , Vitamin A Palmitate Added), Seasoning (Maltodextrin, Nonfat Milk,

Modified Corn Starch, Salt, Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour [bleached Wheat Flour,

Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid],

Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate, Xanthan Gum, Spices, Mono And

Diglycerides), Butter (Butter, Salt), Parmesan Cheese Concentrate (Parmesan Cheese

[Pasteurized Milk, Cultures, Salt, Enzymes], Water, Salt, Natural Flavors, Yeast Extract,

Sodium Phosphates, Sodium Citrate), Modified Corn Starch, Garlic (Garlic, Water),

Chicken Base (Chicken Meat, Chicken Juices, Salt, Potato Flour, Flavorings, Sugar,

Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate), Parsley, Salt

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Domino's pizza has already spoiled the reverence. Particularly the "Artisan -Spinach & Feta":

Well, it may not be very "artisan", but it sure sounds delicious! I'm reminded of looking at a dog's pedigree and seeing the same ancestor in two or three or four different places in the family tree when I see that tempting disodium inosinate and that enticing disodium guanylate popping up in multiple spots.

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About Cypress Grove: They are not artisans. They were bought by Emmi, the multinational dairy corporation. They are sell outs. But, that's American, right?!

"Sell outs" is a little harsh in regard to Cypress Grove and the difficulties involved in being a cheesemaker. An interesting case, yes, and it brings up questions about if and when a hard and fast line can be drawn as to what is or is not artisanal. Gordon Edgar does a good job: Cypress Grove Sells to Emmi

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What's even lamer about the Cypress Grove deal is that a lot of people still consider them an American company and promote their cheese as "must-try" American classics. They have their two gouda style cheese made for them in The Netherlands (with Dutch milk by Dutch people) and Humboldt Fog is beyond ubiquitous. There are so many other hard working cheesemakers out there not deceiving people about their brand. Of the hundreds of artisanal cheeses out there to promote (for American Cheese Month, or not), why focus on a company that was sold to an international brand that does not have the artisan or the consumer in their best interests. Artisanal cheese is made by artisans. Do you really think Emmi are artisans? Or do you think Emmi is just cashing in on the exploding interest of real cheese in America? It's your money but I suggest you choose to buy real cheese. Ask a good, experienced cheesemonger to point you the right direction.

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What's even lamer about the Cypress Grove deal is that a lot of people still consider them an American company and promote their cheese as "must-try" American classics. They have their two gouda style cheese made for them in The Netherlands (with Dutch milk by Dutch people) and Humboldt Fog is beyond ubiquitous. There are so many other hard working cheesemakers out there not deceiving people about their brand. Of the hundreds of artisanal cheeses out there to promote (for American Cheese Month, or not), why focus on a company that was sold to an international brand that does not have the artisan or the consumer in their best interests. Artisanal cheese is made by artisans. Do you really think Emmi are artisans? Or do you think Emmi is just cashing in on the exploding interest of real cheese in America? It's your money but I suggest you choose to buy real cheese. Ask a good, experienced cheesemonger to point you the right direction.

Not to derail this thread into a "Cypress Grove" thread...but a few points: Cypress Grove is an example of an American Classic. A small company that did it right and hit it big. They put in 27 years before being acquired by Emmi in 2010 and got where they are because they made, and still make, good cheese (whether Emmi maintains the quality of the cheese for the long term remains to be seen.) I imagine quite a few artisan cheesemakers would JUMP at the chance to be in the position of Cypress Grove.

Is Humboldt Fog ubiquitous? Yes indeed, and it is one of the main reasons that most Americans even know that such a thing as "goat cheese" exists. I have not seen any evidence that they deceive anyone and state clearly on their website that their goudas are "Made in Europe exclusively for Cypress Grove Chevre." If you choose to consume cheese only made by small (however you choose to define small) cheese producers on American soil, then more power to you. But Cypress Grove deserves due credit for their role in developing and promoting the artisan cheese movement in America.

For the record I probably should disclose that I am a cheese professional, with on-the-farm cheesemaking and selling experience, and am currently employed as a cheesemonger at Cowgirl Creamery, 919 F Street NW... come down and say hello sometime :)

Rachel

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Not to derail this thread into a "Cypress Grove" thread...

[Gotcha covered!] :)

I don't have any strong feelings on this subject yet, but thought I'd throw this out there: I'm someone who has been around the block many times in the world of food and drink, and by extension, this means the world of cheese. Out of all "foodies" (and I still hate that term), I'm probably in the top 5% in terms of cheese knowledge ... I doubt I'm in the top 1% anymore although I used to be. The name "Humboldt Fog" has been drilled into my noodle, here and there, over the years, in cheese shops, grocery stores, and especially in restaurants, as a "we're proud to serve it" brand - I haven't done a mental inventory recently, but I'm quite certain that it still is. There is a time lag between "sell out" and "sell-out public awareness," and I think it takes a little rabble-rousing like milkmaid's post to jolt these things into the forefront. Whether or not it's true is usually established over time, but by then people are usually sipping margaritas in a private villa in the Caribbean (refer to real estate developers). They say that the free market is a great valuation tool, but that's only true in the *extremely* long term; publicity and marketing can extend a brand name long past the point where it becomes just another commodity. I wonder how many of these "macro microbrews" sitting on the shelves of Harris Teeter - and specifically, today I noticed Starr Hill, Kona, and Flying Dog sitting amongst the generation-ago-dead brands of Heineken, Red Stripe, Fosters, etc. - are nothing more than awful at this point. I pretty much stopped buying any beer that's available in supermarkets awhile back because they're so terribly bad, and it seems like it's almost across-the-board. My rule of thumb is: if it's at Harris Teeter, it's awful. And that rule has served me very well in recent months and years even though it's obviously not 100% true.

Rachel, I haven't carefully read your entire reply yet (I'm going to as soon as I post this), but milkmaid knows what she's talking about. Scanning your last paragraph, it's obvious you do, too. This has the makings of an important discussion.

---

ETA:

[Hijack away and write about whatever you'd like - it's my job as curator to organize things. I had originally split your post into a separate Cypress Grove thread, but I'm un-splitting it for now - we can always revisit this depending on where the conversation goes.]

My initial impression after reading Gordon Edgar's thoughtful essay is that's interesting, but tilts a bit too much towards "market reality" and away from pure craftsmanship - we parted ways, for example, when I read this:

"When the worker co-op conference needed last minute cheese for the Jim Hightower reception they came through within minutes. Any problems with the cheese? I get immediate response."

My thought was, 'So what? These are arguments supporting any efficient distribution system in any endeavor, and have nothing to do with artisan cheesemaking.'

Also, reading what he wrote evoked the feeling (just an initial feeling; Rachel, I haven't even gotten to a detailed reading of your post yet) that 1) we should be happy that Mary Keehn got her payday for her contribution towards what we all admire, and 2) now that the sale is complete, we should no more celebrate Cypress Grove than we should Ben & Jerry's. Again, this is just an initial feeling and I haven't finished delving into the facts of this.

ETA again:

I'm not sure I'd call what I'm reading an example of an "American Classic" so much as a "free-market success story for Mary Keehn - a lady who apparently deserves it." There's nothing at all wrong with this, but I'm also really glad this has all been brought to my attention.

Edited by DonRocks
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But at some point don't you have to step back and think about how good food and drink can be provided to as many people as possible at prices they can afford to pay, rather than how pure and righteous the products are? If everyone insists on hand-made, small-batch, "artisan" products, there's no way that everyone can be satisfied. It's possible to make good food and drink on a large scale. Canadian Black Diamond cheddar is mass-produced, and it's damned good. They produce good beer on an industrial scale in Bavaria. Not the greatest beer, but beer that's made from good ingedients and is actually worth drinking. I think this morality-play approach to food and drink is horribly misguided and ultimately self-defeating. Unless you happen to be rich.

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But at some point don't you have to step back and think about how good food and drink can be provided to as many people as possible at prices they can afford to pay, rather than how pure and righteous the products are?

I'll leave that school of thought to McDonald's, and on an increasingly smaller scale, Jose Andres, Michel Richard, and Michael Landrum.

Yeah, that's right, I said it. Someone had to.

I think this morality-play approach to food and drink is horribly misguided and ultimately self-defeating. Unless you happen to be rich.

Uh huh.

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Also, reading what he wrote evoked the feeling (just an initial feeling; Rachel, I haven't even gotten to a detailed reading of your post yet) that 1) we should be happy that Mary Keehn got her payday for her contribution towards what we all admire, and 2) now that the sale is complete, we should no more celebrate Cypress Grove than we should Ben & Jerry's. Again, this is just an initial feeling and I haven't finished delving into the facts of this.

Disclaimer: My name is Ian, I work at Cypress Grove Chevre. My comments are not endorsed by Cypress Grove, so bear with me if I don't have all the details or say some things you've never heard before.

Katie expresses some of the same feelings that have been directed at Cypress since the sale to Emmi. As the Internet is a discussion, it is impossible to use the business-as-usual, one-way PR releases to dispel any controversy, so I have taken it upon myself to try to set some of the facts straight.

Midnight Moon and Lamb Chopper were never meant to be deceptively marketed as American-made cheeses. Rachel pointed out that the label, literature, and Web site all state the origin of this cheese. Cypress Grove works with the cheesemakers in Holland to produce these cheeses exclusively for Cypress Grove, they are not just your average imported cheese with a new label. Any customer who reads labels has surely realized that it is made in the Netherlands.

Soft-ripened cheeses are still made by hand and hand wrapped. Emmi has not shipped any cheese robots here to take the place of workers.

The financial support Emmi has brought to Cypress Grove has so far been invested in a new goat dairy 8 miles from the creamery. The goats are being raised according to humane guidelines. Giant, sunny, airy hoop houses are being built for the goats' comfort. The goats are being raised by hand by people, not with goat keeper robots. Admittedly, milk machines are a modern time saver, but I don't know of any commercial milking operation that still hand milks.

Cypress Grove's cheeses are not uniform. Samples are regularly placed on the front counter from different batches to test if they are good enough to sell, not if they fit some exact specification. Cheese is sold all the time that is more or less salty, has too much or too little texture, is made different blends of milk, or is ripened more or less ideally. The quality assurance team makes sure that the cheese is safe and tasty, not that it is perfect.

I was worried when the Emmi sale went through that being owned by a foreign corporation would harm the way cheese was produced. Mary told us stories about the representatives from Emmi being good people, buying meals for homeless people, using environmentally-friendly methods, and how some of the companies they owned in Switzerland still produced cheese as if it were the 16th Century. I had my doubts, but after interacting with the corporate management, I see that this is a corporation whose bread and butter is craft production and only has mainstream products (such as the apparently-fabulous Emmi grapefruit yogurt) to satisfy the needs of their stockholders of which a majority are dairy farmers. That is, the Swiss dairy farmers need somewhere to sell their milk even if the products don't turn huge profits for the company.

Not much has changed here in California. A lot more angry comments come in from people who think we have turned into the cheese version of Halliburton. Cypress Grove's plans for a humane dairy farm has been accused of being a "factory farm" based on Emmi's ownership and we were kicked off of our original site (on property 1000 feet from the creamery) by a small group of people who protested on the sidewalk. None of the controversy is actually true except for profits are indeed being sent to Emmi instead of being sent to the bank to pay off interest on loans. One of Emmi's main impacts on Cypress Grove was to pay off outstanding debt which has allowed the company to spend money on more productive things such as cheese research and goat milk.

P.S. I also can't stand the pronunciation Americans use for "artisanal" as if it was water as well as the word artisanal itself however it is pronounced. Making cheese is a craft, an art... artisanal makes it sound "art-like", "sort of artisan" or some other strange thing to me. I also am skeptical of "terroir" or any of the other marketing nonsense that detaches people from the real issues: tastes and textures reflecting a cheesemaker's skill, formulas and methods. (I also can't stand when people use "in regard to", "utilize" and other flowery words which just mean simple things like "about" and "use", so I might not be the best person to comment on this.)

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I know it's a different product, a different corporation, and a very different situation. But artisanal bread baker Nancy Silverton sold La Brea Bakery to an international conglomerate, which ruined her amazing bread. She made six million dollars. And all of it was then invested with Bernie Madoff.

click

It is a bit strange that some people assume Cypress Grove sold out like Nancy Silverton and her unfortunate ponzi scheme investments, but I understand how people jump to this conclusion (not saying that you do/did, zoramargolis). I am of the opinion that ownership does not necessarily make something more or less artisan. I would go as far to say that the cheese copycats of the world who call their products artisan might want to examine what that word artisan really means to them. Did they put professional artistic work into the design of the cheese? If they completely copied someone else, I would consider them small producers, not original artists. It is true that the methods used to make a cheese can stray from the original design and make the product less than artisan. Some people consider a personal touch to a copy makes an artisan product, but I question if that can really apply to cheese. There seems to be a good number of people who make unoriginal products that they would like the rest of the world to call artisan just because they make small batches of copies.

Again, these are just my opinions. I'm sure there are perspectives which make more sense than mine.

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I went off on a tangent in the previous post. I missed the point. My apologies for responding to myself.

If a person equates artisan cheese by the way artisan is applied to furniture, then any cheese made by hand is artisan. Where the line is drawn on batch size or equipement is subjective and changes as culture does.

If a person equates artisan cheese with the newish "artisanal cheese" buzzword, the definition becomes very subjective. There are artisanal recipes crafted by constant tweaking. There are artisanal methods as opposed to industrial production. There is a stress for some on local production where the artisanal quality diminishes with distance.

The emergence of artisanal cheese is a good thing that has been driven by consumers and simultaneously abused as a marketing gimmick. A cheese can technically be considered artisan as long as humans handle the cheese while making it. There are steps cheese companies can and do take to mechanize cheesemaking such as cheese turning robots (which may someday be marketed as artisanal if a robot doesn't command the other robot). I think the appreciation for creation by the cheesemaking company defines artisanal more than the word itself. When cheese companies are creative enough to appreciate the good accidents and tweak the process, the consumer benefits. When a cheese company considers uniformity and gross revenues first in the cheesemaking process, the consumer doesn't get the same product as they would from a so-called artisanal producer.

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