I was thrilled to see two of my favorite local cheese makers profiled in this morning’s Charlotte Observer. “Smile and Say ‘Local Cheese'” profiles Fishing Creek Creamery from Chester, SC, Bosky Acres from Waxhaw, and Uno Alla Volta Cheese from Charlotte. I’ve been a long time fan of Bosky Acres, and a more recent fan of Fishing Creek Creamery. (That’s Fishing Creek Creamery Feta pictured above.) Now that I know that Zack Gadberry of Uno Alla Volta makes fresh ricotta and mozzarella, it means that there’s another local cheese maker I need to seek out.
Because I’m a self-confessed cheese addict.
My love affair with fresh cheese began during the five years we lived in Baltimore from 1992-97. Mr. Masatellone and his wife owned Mastellone’s Deli and Wine Shop, and made their own mozzarella every morning. One of the reasons that so many of my recipes in Fool a Carnivore use fresh mozzarella is that I had easy access to it for so many years. And once you taste my lasagna with fresh creamy mozzarella instead of rubbery packaged mozzarella, you’ll realize that years of Mastellone mozzarella helped fuel my cheese addiction.
American cheese consumption has skyrocketed in recent years (about 33 pounds per capita), but countries like Greece, France, Germany and Italy still consume far more than we do. But my guess is that they are eating more high quality, locally made cheese than we do.
My humble suggestion is that we consider shifting our buying habits to embrace quality local cheeses instead of continuing to buy larger quantities of mass produced cheese. Based on what I see in my local grocery stores, the average American buys massive amounts of packaged cheese and commercial prepared products that contain cheese. Maybe it is because of the “opiate addiction” created by the breakdown of casomorphins – the fragments of protein in cow’s milk that result from the digestion of casein. I have to admit – I always feel better when I eat cheese, so maybe this opiate thing is real. If you’re interested in learning more, check out this intriguing post.
I’ve found other articles that suggest that goat cheese has a different type of casein. So, fresh goat milk cheese may help people like me temper my cheese craving with a healthier locally sourced alternative.
I was amazed to learn that there are 38 local cheese makers within a 50 mile radius of Charlotte. Wherever you live, seek out local cheese makers. Yes, their cheeses will be more expensive than their mass produced counterparts – but don’t begrudge them a fair price for their cheese. Many of them are struggling to produce a high quality product with a very thin profit margin.
As with many things in life – quantity is not synonymous with quality.
Whether or not I’m truly “addicted to cheese,” I enjoy it tremendously and will probably never give it up. However, I’m going to make a concerted effort to cut back on my cheese consumption and to seek out more local cheese makers so that when I do choose to eat cheese, it delights my palate – and doesn’t just fuel my cheese addiction.
My guess is that there are phenomenal local cheese makers in your region. Seek them out, support them, and help them thrive!