Next Meeting: October 6th at UMaine Orono

Our next meeting will take place on Monday, October 6th at the University of Maine Orono campus hosted by UMaine Cooperative Extension.

Stay tuned to this article for more information about the specific building and room where we’ll be meeting, as well as for parking information.

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ACS 2014 — Day 3 (Last Day)

Redwood bark in the CA Capitol park

This year the Breakfast of Champions — when they present all the award winning cottage cheeses, ricottas, yogurts, and all other dairy products that were judged in competition but are awkward to eat during the Festival of Cheese — has become the Brunch of Champions AFTER the first round of sessions. Therefore I headed straight to…

SO YOU WANT TO BUILD A CHEESE CAVE?
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ACS 2014 — Day 2

CA State House early morning

The morning began with an early morning meeting with the other Cheese Guilds attending the conference. The idea was to talk about ways in which the Guilds could collaborate, and any ways the Guilds could better interface with ACS. Unfortunately it was run as an afterthought, and despite raising many valid areas that the Guilds would like to address (workshop sharing, Guild formation, Guild legal structures) the meeting was stopped five minutes before it was scheduled to end with absolutely no promise of follow-up besides circulating a typed list of attendees and their emails. I later complained to the President of the ACS board about this “lame” attempt to help the Guilds by getting us together. He said he would look into it sometime after August.

Sacramento Capitol Drive looking west

We then headed to the main hall where we had been eating our meals for a general session about how the shellfish industry manages the traceability and HACCP requirements they have been working under for about ten years now. These are all areas that will soon be applied to the cheese industry after the FSMA is fully implemented over the next few years. The first person to speak was Maryanne Guichard from the Washington State Dept. of Health who explained how the system worked, and that all states participating in the traceability program got together on a regular basis (annual or biannual) to evaluate what was working and what was not working and propose changes to the system. Interestingly she explained that the FDA was a member of that working group and had only a single vote on proposed changes or new guidelines. They could, if the group approved something, still veto it (as the ultimate regulator). But they would have at least participated in the development and discussions of the issue as a partner, instead of being presented something from out of left field.
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ACS 2014 — Day 1

California State House

It is HOT in Sacramento in the summer, especially when compared to Maine temperatures. Yesterday the temperatures were in the 100s in the Central Valley of California that includes Sacramento at its northern end. It’s true that it’s a “dry” heat, but 100, wet or dry, is still very hot. As I walked to dinner in the twilight of the day the residual heat in the pavement practically rang from sidewalks after baking through the day.

California Capitol Tree Tour

Wednesday broke clear and a bit cooler (78 degrees). I walked across the Capitol park on my way to breakfast at the convention and noticed that almost every tree is labeled with its species and common name, with a few of them numbered and referring to a Capitol tree tour which I will have to look into.
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ACS 2014 — Day 0

I have always avoided the pre-conference tours offered by the American Cheese Society, probably simply to save me the cost of the extra night in a hotel necessary to take advantage of it. However this year I would be traveling to a City (San Francisco) where I have family to bunk with AND the tour would also double as cheap transportation to the destination city (Sacramento), so I had no real reason to poo-poo the opportunity. I signed up for the “Farmstead Life: Sheep, Cow, and Goat” tour, and I’m glad I did.

Oakland Shipping Terminal
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Maine Supreme Court Rules On Dairy Licensing Question

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court issued a ruling against Dan Brown (aka “Farmer Brown” in Blue Hill), upholding a lower court’s decision that he had broken the law by selling raw milk from his unlicensed, un-inspected Gravelwood Farm. Here is the link to read the BDN story.

This ruling lifted Mr. Brown’s crusade to the national spotlight with a recent New York Times article covering the history and outcome of his, and the supporters of municipal “Food Sovereignty” ordinances, fight against state regulation.

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Did the FDA just ban European cheese?

After “clarifying” it’s position on using wood boards to age cheese by saying that wood can NOT be used to safely produce aged cheese, the U.S. FDA moved to dampen fears it will ban all cheese aged on wood.

Meanwhile the American Cheese Society has issued its response to the FDA’s “clarification” on using wood in aging caves and is working to get more information from the FDA on what evidence for their clarification was used, and help them get more information about the issue that may help them see that wood has been used to safely age trillions of pounds of cheese over the last 10,000 years.

UPDATE 16 June 2014:
Based on a unanimous vote at our June 2014 Maine Cheese Guild meeting, the membership of the MCG publicly supports the American Cheese Society’s position statement on the safety of aging cheese on wood, as well as the work of ACS to maintain open lines of communication with the FDA and other governmental regulatory agencies.

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Maine Licensed Cheese Makers 2013

Below are the licensed cheese makers in Maine as published by the Department of Agriculture

There are 71 Processed Dairy Facilities as of June 2013
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Guild Statement Related To Local Food Ordinances

logo_200_lowThe Maine Cheese Guild stands by it’s Quality Statement, issued in May 2009, with regard to the Local Food Ordinance proposals we have seen, and to the legislative bills introduced for the 2011 session (LD330 and LD366).

Our testimony against LD330, given to the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry at the March hearing on this bill follows:
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Raw goat milk in Boothbay

I spoke to someone yesterday who’s looking for raw goat milk for her two children, who cannot tolerate cow milk. Does anyone know of someone in that area she can contact?  She would prefer raw milk.

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Meeting: Aug 11 at Fuzzy Udder in Whitefield

The Guild met at the NEW Fuzzy Udder Creamery in Whitefield for our on August 11th meeting on a hot beautiful Maine summer day. This will have been the third (!) MCG meeting at this farm with three different owners. Jesse bought the farm from Townhouse Farm, the maker of Ewegurt, last winter and moved her entire creamery over from Unity to the farm. Beth of Townhouse Farm who sold to Jessie bought the farm from the Townhouse Farm owners who made Gouda-style cheese and ice cream and who hosted one of the early Guild meetings.

Jesse gave us a tour of her cheese room, milk room, and pastures, and told us about her plans to use (as efficiently as possible) the small amount of land available to make the cheese she has been dreaming of. Right now part of her sheep flock is pastured a mile or so away while everything gets settled.

Eric gave a recap of his visit to the American Cheese Society conference in Sacramento, we discussed why most current Maine cheese makers were women (something Jeffrey Roberts asked Eric at ACS), talked about the upcoming October workshops with Gianaclis Caldwell (October 25 and 26th — stay tuned to the Guild web site for more info), discussed ideas for our Spring 2015 workshops, saw a string of cheese that Caitlin had been sent from Western China, possible Mongolia, and then ate a lot of good cheese that the members brought with them. Thanks to everyone who came!

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More Info On Wood Shelving

I just noticed some more information on wood shelving in the CheezSource, LLC newsletter this month (also on their blog page).

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Meeting: June 16 at Appleton Creamery

Our next meeting will be held on June 16th at Appleton Creamery in Appleton, Maine. Caitlin Hunter is the founding President of the Guild and has been making and selling cheese in Maine for over twenty years, and what is more amazing is how she manages an entire milking herd of Alpine goats, has been training many young cheese makers many of whom go on to be hired by major US artisan cheese companies or they start their own award winning creameries, AND she continues to make award winning cheeses in a very tiny (but efficient) space on her small farm in the hills of Appleton. There is much to learn from her efforts, and from the cheese-driven life that she has created.

Caitlin adds: “the Maine AgraAbility folks coming to give a presentation about farming smart as we age. Just got my new hydraulic lift table to help move those pesky full buckets around. We will also have the pizza oven fired!”

Directions:

From the North:
Get on to Maine Rt. 131 heading south from Searsmont Village. After you pass the intersection with Rt. 105, drive another mile or two to the next left on Sennebec Rd. About a mile later continue straight-ish onto Sleepy Hollow Rd., go down across a small bridge then up and take your first right onto Gurneytown Rd. Appleton Creamery is less than a mile down the road on your right, clearly marked.

From the South:
Find Sennebec Rd. heading north off of Route 17 directly across from the intersection with Route 235. Drive north about three miles then take the RIGHT fork to get onto Gurneytown Rd. Appleton Creamery is a little more than a mile farther north on the left, clearly marked

I hope to see you there.

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