Michael Pollan. Marion Nestle. Will Allen. Alice Waters. Dan Barber.
These men and women may not have reached tabloid-cover celebrity status, but they’re household names to anyone interested in sustainable food, constantly advocating for a more resilient food system. Over the next several decades, these advocates will continue to influence food policy and make known the inequities, inefficiencies, and blatant corruption inherent to our current food system. Despite their varied backgrounds, locales, and methods, they share a mutual desire for a more equitable, transparent, and engaged food culture. They also have something else in common: they’re all over the age of 40.
All that stood between me and the cheesemaking room was a set of steamy windows. Shielding my eyes against the bright Pacific Northwest summer sun, I strained to catch a glimpse of the interior: large vats, glimmering stainless steel, draining cheese, pristinely scrubbed floors. A ten second glance was as close as I would get to watching an American farmstead cheese be made.
Cheese is produced almost daily at Whidbey Island’s Glendale Shepherd, but access to the cheesemaking area and the aging rooms that extend along the back of the barn is exclusive to Lynn, Stan, and Erik Swanson and their employees. It wasn’t until Lynn heaved out an enormous binder, weighing at least 50 pounds, that my limited access began to make sense. The contents of the binder – the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point Program – wiped clean my idealized vision of farmstead cheesemaking as a romantic labor of love, where a tender cheesemaker pulls up a rickety three-legged stool to milk her animals before magically transforming the milk into a variety of cheeses fit for an adoring public.
In the summer, the words “Oregon” and “berry” are practically synonymous. Oregon’s fields and farms are not only flush with the kinds of berries I’ve eaten my entire life (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries), but also ripe with berries of which I had only passing familiarity (gooseberries, marionberries) before moving here, along with berries I’d never heard of at all, namely tayberries.