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Whey to Go

Side Dishes: Vermont cheese goes national

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Cheesy writing may sound like a bad thing, but it’s the editorial goal of the folks at culture magazine, a new quarterly publication about fermented milk products. The first issue of “America’s only consumer cheese magazine,” forthcoming in December, will spotlight Vermont’s dairy darlings at Jasper Hill Farm in Greensboro. Promotional materials feature a pic of co-owner Mateo Kehler perched on the flank of one of his cows. Start saving now for a subscription. The newsstand price is a whopping $12.95.

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Gourmet.com is taking notice of the Greensboro farm, too. A recent piece by Ben Hewitt touts the farm’s “state-of-the-art” cheese cave and its planned collaboration with the Vermont Food Venture Center, which will be moving from Fairfax to Hardwick next summer.

An accompanying piece by the same author talks about the up-and-coming town of Hardwick, which has gotten mucho media coverage lately. Calling it “one of the most important food towns in America,” Hewitt lauds the folks at Claire’s Restaurant and Bar, High Mowing Organic Seeds and Vermont Soy, among others, for their owners’ “keen business savvy.”

None of this is news to part-time Vermonter Marion Burros of The New York Times, who published a piece on the greater Hardwick area in mid-October. In it, she suggests that the burg could eventually be known as “the town that was saved by food,” and ends with an upbeat quote from Kehler about the area’s future. Go, Caledonia County!

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Nothing sells product like a catalogue deal. Williams-Sonoma’s new “American Farmstead Cheese Collection” — a quartet of artisan versions selected for the company by “Chicago’s pre-eminent cheese specialists” — includes Vermont Ayr from Crawford Family Farm as well as Willow Hill’s bloomy-rind La Fleurie.

In case you missed it . . . The Saputo cheese plant in Hinesburg, the town’s third-largest employer, will not be reopening after a devastating fire.

Headquartered in Montréal, Saputo Inc. estimates that it will save $2.2 million per year by shifting production to its other U.S. facilities.

The move eliminated 80 permanent positions and left milk co-operatives scrambling to find other places to sell their stuff: The Hinesburg plant had been buying up 10 percent of the state’s supply.

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Good thing Organic Valley is in the market for milk. The company is trying to cash in on the Green Mountain localvore cachet with a new line of regional, organic cheese. One-pound blocks of “Vermont Cheddar Cheese,” which come in medium, sharp and extra-sharp, are made from the milk of pastured animals that feed primarily on grasses. And, unlike Cabot, the company forbids the use of bovine growth hormones. One quibble: A few of the 60 contributing farmers are in upstate New York. False advertising?

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