Par for the course with every family gathering a discussion on or about our way of life, mainly our "farm food" develops. Some admire the efforts we make, some seem sincerely amazed at how we do it, some tend think we are a bit eccentric.
The food we eat and serve is mainly food we grow on the farm. All family members are aware of this fact.
We have a few that will not drink our milk due to it being goat milk. How quickly they forget when it comes time to having that bowl of ice cream, a piece of cheese or fudge. Yeppers, all made with goat milk.
We have one who says she will only eat store bought eggs. Will not eat an egg if the hen that laid it was with a rooster. Can’t explain her reasoning behind that, I didn’t bother to ask (to each his own, we only eat farm fresh eggs).
One member turns into a vegetarian when she walks through our door. She refuses to eat any meat from an animal she thinks she has met.
Some are actually hesitant to eat any meat dishes because they think it maybe goat. They will ask what the ingredients are before indulging.
This year one sister in law had been reading "In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto" by author Michael Pollan. I personally believe that Pollan’s suggestion that people "Don't eat anything that your great-grandmother would not recognize as food" to be spot on.
The sister’s interest in eating more naturally sparked a pleasant, lengthy conversation amongst all on natural food and gardens or her desire to have a garden in their back yard. This also led to a discussion on eating local food, CSA’s, then the unpleasant topic of raising livestock for meat. Yes, it is a common practice in sustainable farming. Yes, we do raise animals to butcher, but no, we do not butcher the large animals ourselves. We have a butcher we chose that we trust and know has the utmost respect for our animals.
For me feeder animals are the hardest to raise. It is not easy to mark an animal as terminal. Though it is the cycle of life and a necessity for our lifestyle. While they are here they are raised happily, healthy and humanely in the same manner as our other animals.
We talked about the 100-mile diet, the Eat Local Challenges, how being "locavore" continued to gain popularity and the importance of natural foods to our health.
One city dwelling sister-n-law mentioned they have found they really enjoyed artisan cheeses from one of the specialty shops in the city. She and I both were pleasantly surprised she found my Chevre to be less tart and tangy than the expensive store bought (who’da thought). She brought to my attention that my goat milk cheeses would be considered artisan, farmstead and/or specialty if I would consider selling them. That turned into another discussion on what labels imply or what a consumer thinks when seeing certain labels and what they really meant. Plus what we would have to do to be certified to either sell the raw milk or make the cheese (which we can’t afford or feel the need to do).
You know I never really considered how I might market my cheeses if I were to sell them, but yes, why yes, they could be considered all three – artisan, farmstead and specialty.
According to the American Cheese Society, 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 Wisconsin Specialty Cheese Institute defines this category of cheese as: "Specialty cheese is defined as a value-added cheese product that is of high quality and limited quantity. A cheese product can be said to be of high quality if it commands a premium price, is of exotic origin, has particular processing, design, limited supply, unusual application or use, or extraordinary packing or channel of sale. A specialty cheese type cannot have a nationwide annual volume of more than 40 million pounds."
The American Cheese Society defines Farmstead cheese as:
1. Milk from herds on the farm where the cheese is produced.
2. Care and attention given to the purity, quality, and flavor of the milk.
3. Production primarily accomplished by hand.
4. Natural ripening with emphasis on development of characteristic flavor and texture, without the use of shortcuts and techniques to increase yield and shelf life at the expense of quality.
5. Respect for the traditions and history of cheese making regardless of the size of the production.
The better half pointed out that the meals they consumed at the farm were something that Great-Grandmother would definitely recognize, would herself have cooked and raised on her farm. The meals included items such as farm fresh bacon and eggs, pork ribs and chicken, potato salad, three-bean salad, deviled eggs, goat milks cheeses, fresh baked bread and rolls, goat milk ice cream and strawberry shortcake.
One cousin stated Great-Grandmother would be proud.