Hold on to your blue boxes and your viscous yellow liquids! This blog series will take you on a wild ride through the history, politics, science, and culture of processed cheese, including the origins of factory cheese, the rise of James L. Kraft, and the miracle of milk protein concentrate. I hope you didn't miss last week's thrilling conclusion to the Kraft Keepsakes two-parter, but if you did, you can read all about Kraft's Macaroni & Cheese Dinner here.
I am happy to report that our building permit is FINALED! It was Aristotle who said "patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet." Yeah...I wonder if he endured a creamery build-out, because that pretty much sums up what it is like. Just to recap, we started the permitting process with the County of Marin back in September 2012; they finally issued a building permit to us on January 15th; we were done building the creamery and got licensed by the state of California 40 days later on Feb. 23rd; it took another 60 days after that to wrap up the septic issues in order to get the final blessing from the county; so from permit issuance to permit final, it took exactly 100 days. The County of Marin has lifted all the holds, done their last site inspection, and given their final approval, closing the book on this project once and for all....at least as far as they are concerned. We, on the other hand, still have a long to-do list!
It’s been 20 days since we finally got the building permit, and there hasn’t been an idle day since. After all those months of waiting and trying to navigate through red tape and overcome bureaucracy, it’s actually happening. The creamery is really coming to life. The action has been fast and furious as we rush to bring the creamery into a functional state. We are pretty much working at a pace that pushes the limits of our budget, and especially our physical and mental stamina. Our muscles & joints have ached in new and interesting places, and we’ve only sustained minor cuts and bruises. It’s amazing though how the body can be so dead-tired, but the mind keeps racing. Well, mine does anyway. To paraphrase the lyrics of “Gin & Juice,” one of the greatest rap songs of all time: I’ve got my mind on my cheese and my cheese on my mind. Here is a recap of the big accomplishments of the past 20 days…
In between the Superdome power outage, Beyonce's killer performance, and oh yeah, that nail-biting football game, I noticed an abundance of farm and dairy-themed commercials last Sunday night. Some were funny, some were powerful, and some were just downright weird. Watch all the advertisements below, and let us know which one was your favorite!
Pepsi Next: Party
Today is January 15th. This is the day that I’d originally hoped the creamery would be completed. So of course, in a remarkable case of situational irony that no one could have predicted, today was the day that we finally obtained our building permit. You just can’t make this stuff up! This morning, Dave drove to the County of Marin offices to present the final piece of paperwork, an authorization for our project from the County Fire District. After paying more fees, they issued our building permit. Dave and I took a moment to celebrate with a couple of pints of beer over lunch today but before we toasted, I made him show me the permit. It felt a bit like the scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory when Charlie shows his family the Golden Ticket, and overwhelmed with happiness, they break into song and dance. We didn’t have time for singing or dancing because Dave had to rush off to check on some creamery work that is already underway….but maybe later.
In Saturday's New York Times, Mark Bittman tells the story of his heartburn, and how quitting dairy helped him lick a lifelong case of acid reflux. Turns out, after leaving off cow-juice for just a day, he found total relief.
I mentioned this to a friend who had the same problem, tried the same approach, and had the same results. Presto! No dairy, no heartburn! (A third had no success. Hey, it’s not a controlled double-blind experiment, but there is no downside to trying it.)
Bully for him. Some cheap self-experimentation sounds a lot better to me than a lifetime of antacids. But he should have taken the whole "it's not rigorous science" thing to heart, because the rest of his column is filled with bad arguments about dairy, and milk in particular, propped up with some highly dubious "experts".
I spent my entire senior year at Emerson College in a turmoil of stomach pain before it dawned on me that I might have an allergy to something. As a rabid consumer of coffee, mostly in (iced) latte form, there were zero minutes in the day when milk was not in my system. Therefore, lactose intolerance never crossed my mind. Finally, a friend recommended I avoid dairy for a day. This was excruciating (hello, my COFFEE!), but I went with a black americano and voila! It was the most amazing feeling. Peace in my stomach!
Clearly, foregoing dairy was not a long term option for someone like me. I despised the chalky aftertaste of soy, and had absolutely no interest in venturing into the world of rice or almond milk. I NEEDED a way to get back to eating cheese, ice cream, and drinking iced lattes (believe it or not, I’m not obese).
I don't know how many of you were in the 4H club growing up, but for those who weren't, there were modern alternatives.
Keyword: "pretend milk"
Milk has not always been the object of attack by nutritionists and animal activists. Hundreds of years before vegans were condemning dairy products as unhealthful industrialized commodities, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 18th-century French philosopher and arguably the first ecologist and environmentalist, was praising the nutritious and psychological properties of milk and its ability to reconnect people with nature. Throughout his writings, from Émile, or On Education to his Confessions, dairy is depicted not only as a building block of humanity but also as a vegetal fruit-like figure within his idealized bucolic literary scenes.
It’s not by mere chance that Rousseau starts off his masterpiece on the “art of education,” Émile, or On Education, with a tribute to breast milk and maternity (still a modern concept in the 18th century). He explains the profound impact of breastfeeding on infants, affirming that it intensifies the mother–child bond, and therefore the overall harmony of the family which he views as a fundamental unit of civilization.