In This Issue
Friends of Traditional Cheese
The Oldways Cheese Coalition is happy to present the Summer 2016 edition of our quarterly CheeseMatters newsletter.
Join our online community and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Make sure to use our HT #cheesecoalition to draw our attention. 

Please consider becoming a member. Your support, no matter the size, is important. Your membership  ensures that we continue working towards promoting artisanal cheese and protecting traditional cheesemaking practices.


Dairy foods are most often prized for their calcium content, but new research reveals that eating fermented dairy products, like cheese, actually changes the gut microbiome, which might help explain the French Paradox- the observation of low rates of heart disease despite high intakes of foods high in cholesterol and saturated fat, such as traditional cheese . In a small study investigating the protective effect of dairy foods, Danish scientists randomly assigned 15 healthy men to one of three diets for two weeks: one with predominantly partly skim (1.5%) milk, one with predominantly semi-hard cow's cheese, and another one, the control diet of butter and no other dairy products. 

Both the milk and cheese diets had the same amount of calcium per day (1.7g). The men rotated through each of the three diets, with a two-week washout period in between each. The scientists found that both the cheese and milk diets, in comparison to the control group, were associated with significantly less TMAO, a compound that is thought to be a marker of heart disease risk. The researchers also found that "dairy consumption, especially cheese, can beneficially modify the gut microbiota to increase SFCA levels." SFCAs (short chain fatty acids) are compounds produced by gut bacteria that are linked to lower risks of diabetes, heart disease, and inflammatory diseases.  
The study was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry and can be found in the Research section of our website. We update this section often and post studies on the health benefits of traditional cheese. 


We are excited to tell you about the advancements in Congress towards the protection of traditional cheesemaking practices. We learned from our partners that the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, at the behest of Senators Patrick Leahy (VT) and Tammy Baldwin (WI) along with Congressman Mark Pocan (WI), included language in the FY17 Agricultural Appropriations Bill directing the FDA to work closely with traditional cheesemakers. Specifically, the language included in the bill says:
"While the Committee appreciates the FDA's willingness to pause enforcement and reevaluate its standard regarding permissible levels of nontoxigenic E. coli in raw milk cheese, it remains concerned that this standard was developed in the absence of any published data from controlled studies describing either the process or rate of transfer of bacteria from the environment in the plant to the product. Therefore, the Committee directs the FDA to continue working with stakeholders to benefit from their expertise about safe cheese-making practices to achieve the mutual goal of food safety, and to provide to the Committee on Appropriations the results of the 'Surveillance Sampling Program for Raw Milk Cheese'."
This language was only made possible through the participation of many interested groups.  In addition, Congressional staffers noted how important and effective it was to hear from constituents. We want to  thank you for signing our petition last year and ask you to keep in contact with your Washington representatives, demanding your right to choose artisanal and traditional cheeses.
Of great interest and importance, the FDA last week released information from their Microbiological Surveillance Sampling program. As you may remember, we had requested this information back in 2014 via a Freedom of Information Act request, but had not received any kind of response.  An important point of the report is that  of the more than 1,600 cheese samples tested for pathogens-the FDA made this remarkable admission: "The data collected by the FDA indicate that the prevalences of Salmonella and Shiga toxin are relatively low and similar to the contamination rates in many other foods."

We have asked members of our Academic Advisory Committee to review and synthesize this information, and will release their summary statement in the following weeks. You can access the FDA summary here.

Here at the Oldways Cheese Coalition, we continue to strive to make cheese an important part of your culinary life, and part of that means helping you find the perfect place to buy cheese. We asked Thomas Perry, a cheesemonger with over 8 years of experience in retail for tips. Here are his recommendations:
"The first thing I look for in a cheese shop is their cheese selection.  This means that as soon as I enter the building, I look to see if there is a big display of cheese that draws me in.  One good sign in any store is to see staff members buzzing about, attending to the cheese or other customers -- working, always working. Along the walls there may also be jams, honeys, crackers, or other items that go along with the cheeses they have on hand, and perhaps also some wine and beer or charcuterie and olives.
The staff is really what makes a cheese shop a great cheese shop. They should be knowledgeable and engaging.  They don't need to know everything, but should be able to direct you towards what you want to know (or at least know how to look it up). Nowadays, you don't necessarily need to go to a dedicated cheese shop to get your cheese fix. Many grocery stores are now bringing in artisan cheeses as part of their offerings. So while the cheese counter may not be what you encounter first in that scenario, look for a prominent display or area dedicated to those goods. If they're really on their game, they will have a dedicated cheesemonger available who can guide you through the experience.
But what really makes for a great cheese buying experience is the relationship that you form with your local cheesemonger. I've built a lot of relationships and many people have ultimately put their cheese lives in my hands without a second thought. This rapport rarely comes easily, but like all relationships, it requires nurturing, trust, and communication to keep it strong.
Ask for a taste of a cheese that interests you.  When you do, communicate with your cheesemonger and tell him or her what you loved about it-- or what you didn't like. This is where the rapport begins to form. Typically, when a customer starts giving me feedback I'll have about 3 cheeses for them to try, based on what they've told me. My job is to get my customer to experience the cheese he or she has envisioned in their mental palate. I'm not trying to make the biggest sale of my career from this interaction, but rather, I'm trying to have them come back again and again. If I can provide them with something that they may not have been thinking of then that's even more gratifying."
Thomas Perry is currently the Head of Cheese & Specialty at Potash Markets in Chicago, IL. He is also the 2015 recipient of the Daphne Zepos Teaching Award and will be presenting his project at the American Cheese Society conference in Des Moines, IA.  


There is nothing better on a hot summer day than a delicious dish with fresh tomatoes, basil, and cheese to bring us to our happy place. This easy recipe can even be made for a quick dinner during the work week! It's best served with a light, crisp white wine.
Whole Foods Market pic and recipe  

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup basil, chopped
1/2 cup sliced shallots
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup dried whole wheat bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, divided
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast cutlets
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add tomatoes, basil, shallots, salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes, stirring often and breaking the tomato halves up with a spoon. Turn heat down as needed to simmer. Set sauce aside.
Meanwhile, mix bread crumbs with 2 tablespoons of the cheese on a plate. Add salt and pepper. Coat each chicken cutlet with bread crumb mixture and transfer to a large plate.
In a second skillet, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add chicken and cook about 5 to 6 minutes on each side, until browned and cooked through. Spoon some of the tomato sauce over each cutlet, then sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons cheese. Cover and let the cheese melt for a couple of minutes before serving.
Nutritional Info: 
Per Serving: 330 calories (130 from fat), 14g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 70mg cholesterol, 330mg sodium, 17g carbohydrates, (2 g dietary fiber, 4g sugar), 31g protein.

This recipe is courtesy of Whole Foods Market. View the original recipe  here .

Massachusetts Cheese Guild
Since 2013, cheesemakers in Massachusetts, spearheaded by Barbara Hanley, Pam Robinson, and Ann Starbard, started working towards a common goal. They decided that artisanal cheesemakers in the state should have a space to share their resources and benefit from working collectively. This is how the Massachusetts Cheese Guild was inaugurated. With a devoted following of consumers and advisors, the organization seeks to share the stories of producers in the state. Recently, Beth Falk was named the first Executive Director. Her mission is to keep the momentum of festivals and campaigns that promote artisanal cheese in the Commonwealth.
Are you interested in getting to know cheesemakers in this state? Would you like to taste some spectacular cheeses? Mark your calendar and come to the Massachusetts Cheese Festival on Saturday, September 24th from 1-4 pm at the Armory on Highland Ave in Somerville, Massachusetts. There will be 12 local cheesemakers and other food vendors focusing on artisanal products made in the state.
You can buy tickets online at:

Follow the MCG on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

We have a number of exciting events planned for the coming months, including our  Taste Cheese Live event on Facebook, a Washington, DC conference in 2017, and the third annual Raw Milk Cheese Appreciation Day on April 15, 2017.
As always, we are very grateful to our supporters, especially our Diamond and Platinum members, including Le Gruyère AOP, Whole Foods Market Parmigiano ReggianoJarlsberg, and Snøfrisk. We hope you will join with us to celebrate and continue to raise awareness about artisanal and traditional cheeses from around the world.  

Sara Baer-Sinnott, President
Carlos Yescas, Program Director
Oldways Cheese Coalition

To fi
nd even more information and delicious recipes, please visit: 


Let the old ways be your guide to good health and well-being. 


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