Increasing numbers of artisan cheesemakers in North Carolina
Jason Sandford at the Citizen-Times has his finger on the pulse of the growing artisan cheesemaker movement in Asheville, North Carolina. Watch out California, Vermont and Wisconsin!
“Cheese-making has been on the rise in North Carolina, which boasts 40 cheese-making operations inspected by state officials, according to Matt Lange, executive director of N.C. Dairy Advantage, a nonprofit created by the state’s dairy producers to support their industry. Of that number about 30-35 are what Lange describes as artisanal cheese-makers — producers who own goats or cows and process milk and cheese on a farm, or operations that source local milk to make cheese. The state also ranks near the top in the number of dairy goats. In fact, the American Dairy Goat Association is headquartered in North Carolina.
In the mountains, the interest in cheese-making is a result of the overall resurgent attraction to locally produced foods, Lange said, as well as a drive on the part of dairy producers to diversify. Pummeled in recent years by low commodity prices, dairy farmers for the past decade have sought “a business plan that allows them to manage a farm and manage a finished product, do it very well and make money at it,” he said.