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Our evolving relationship to milk, market news and farm happenings

Posted 6/14/2018 8:51pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

The US dairy industry has designated June as “National Dairy Month.”  I am not one to jump frivolously on a seemingly trite industry marketing campaign, but we are in the milk business, after all. We have an intimate relationship with milk, as well as the animals who provide us with the white fluid richness.

For us, our goats’ varying diet, their health and their overall well-being are seamlessly linked to their milk, both quantity and quality.  As a farmstead creamery (we use only the milk from our herd of goats to make our cheeses), our relationships with goats and milk are especially acute and intense.  Our milk and dairy products are like a symphony: the goats are the musicians, the pasture their theater and milkers and cheese makers the rotating conductors.

Consumption of animal milk is in trouble. According a recent study of milk consumption trends over the past couple of years (I get a lot of great information about the commercial dairy industry from a weekly newspaper called “The Cheese Reporter”), more people are choosing non-animal (soy, almond) “milks” over animal dairy products. The report cites health problems (allergies, lactose intolerance), dietary lifestyle choices (veganism) and environmental and animal welfare concerns as some of the reasons for this trend.  There are so many unconnected pieces to this puzzle of why we choose to eat/drink what we do, it would take many arrows and boxes to begin to develop a coherent explanation.  The fall from designation as “nature’s perfect food” to gustatory pariah has been gradual, complex and somewhat stealth. 

There are many myths and mis-perceptions about dairy farming and milk that have contributed to milk consumption’s demise.  In talking with folks who visit our farm, I find many don’t appreciate the necessity of mammal’s having offspring to produce milk.  Milk is available year-round and ubiquitous, so the connection to a life-cycle or a season is muddled. Since we are a seasonal dairy and most of our does kid in the spring, it is easier to demonstrate this connection. The greater nuances imparted to milk from animal type, animal breeds, stages of lactation or diets (forages versus grains, silage versus fresh pasture, for example) make the choices of what to drink or eat even more complicated.

Some folks believe they are lactose intolerant, yet can consume dairy products made with goats’ milk with ease. This apparent paradox highlights the different types of milk proteins in cow versus goat milk. Most adverse reactions are likely allergies to cow milk proteins. Many doctors tell their patients to avoid dairy products all together; other doctors tell expectant mothers to avoid certain types of cheese, even if they’re made with pasteurized milk.  Milk can be confusing, and does not conform to one-size-fits-all dietary guidelines.

Small-scale, family-owned dairy farms are becoming endangered species as well. Every year, there are fewer dairy farmers milking 100 cows or less. Most live in a commodity landscape in which it costs more to produce a gallon of milk than they receive in payment for that milk. Consumers celebrate $2/gallon milk at the grocery store, while dairy cooperatives send suicide prevention letters to dairy farmers with their milk checks.  Even organic milk producers are being given the squeeze from processors; some processors will only take so many gallons per farm. 

So, what does it mean to celebrate milk and dairy products in our modern world? For me, it’s more than just drinking a glass of milk or eating a piece of cheese. It’s a call to know your dairy farmers.  It’s a call to probe your milk’s origins, to understand what how the animals are cared for or how their diet and living conditions affect their milk quality.  Embrace the complexity of nature’s perfect food.

Text Message Customer Loyalty Program:  

In celebration of June Dairy Month, we have a special offer for our farm store patrons.  To get the message with the special info, you’ll need to sign up: text either “GOAT” or “URBANA” or “FARMSTORE” to 30500 to sign up. 

Here are the key words based on your interests:

  • For general farm announcements, text GOAT to 30500
  • For special farmers’ market offers and promotions (Urbana’s Market at the Square patrons), text URBANA to 30500
  • For the latest news on farm to table meals, text TABLE to 30500
  • For CSA members, text CSA to 30500

Farmers’ Market Offerings

All three bloomies are plentiful this week—black goat and little bloom are perfectly ripe, while angel food is still young but tasty. Try some of our feta on a market greens salad this week or grab some of our discounted Moonglo wedges.

Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper—the lemony flavor of our summer chevre is a perfect foil for a mixed green salad or over roasted beets. Try this recipe featuring chickpeas, local strawberries and fresh chevre:

Spicy Strawberry-Chickpea Salad with Fresh Chevre
(recipe by Meg Dickinson of News Gazette, 6/6/18)
Ingredients
2 cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
½ C local strawberries, de-stemmed and chopped coarsely
1 small jalapeño pepper, de-seeded and chopped
4 oz. fresh goat cheese (PFF&C, please)
3 T olive oil
1 handful of chopped cilantro
2 T freshly squeezed lime juice (juice of one lime approx.)

In a large salad bowl, fold together all the ingredients until mixed well. Make sure chickpeas and strawberries are evenly coated.  Cover bowl and chill at least one hour before serving. Serves 6 approx.

Note from Prairie Fruits Farm: I haven’t tried this recipe yet, but it’s simple and it sounds delicious. If you don’t want the spicy, omit the jalapeño pepper. You might also add a little (1 T) chopped, fresh mint. Season with salt and pepper as needed. 

Goat Milk Feta: the first of the season feta is HERE! We are now making our feta with pasteurized milk. It’s still aged in whey brine, imparting all the wonderful complex flavors you’ve come to expect from our feta. With summer salad season upon, the arrival of our feta is timely. We will have limited quantities of our feta in olive oil with herbs too.

Little Bloom on the Prairie: This batch is perfectly ripe.  Serve with local honey or one of the jams in our farm store. If you want to go the savory route, try serving a round with one of our new spring pestos—wild ramp or green garlic or fermented green garlic in brine (found only in the freezer section of our farm store).

Angel Food: our little “mini-brie” or crottin style bloomy rind; this new batch of Angel Food is young, firm and tangy. For those you who like it slightly tart and crumbly, this is your cheese this week. 

Black Goat: an ash-coated bloomy with a delicate and crinkly yeasty rind. This batch is ripening nicely, but it has a sublime fudgy consistency and a hint of yeastiness on the rind.  Try pairing with spicy dry-cured salami.

Moonglo: fall-milk, tomme-style cheese; the texture of this semi-hard cheese is soft and supple like Gouda, but the taste is sharp and fruity. Ask for a taste if you’ve never had it before. Try it on crusty bread with onion jam or caramelized onions. Try melting it for a gourmet grilled cheese. Again this week, we have a batch with soft rinds, so we’re running a special--$5/lb. off the regular price.  Ask for a taste—all you have to do is cut off the rind, and enjoy the delicious cheese within.

Huckleberry Blue: our limited late fall goats’ milk blue cheese—it’s a gateway to blue cheeses; creamy texture, not overly blue-veined (or sharp in a blue way). This cheese is great crumbled on a salad, sliced and warmed on a steak or burger OR served on baguette with a fig jam or walnut balsamic vinegar reduction (this is an amazing combination). This cheese is ONLY available directly from us—no wholesale buyers have this cheese right now.

Gelato:  Here’s the selection of pints this week:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Espresso
  • Salted Caramel Swirl
  • Stracciatella (chocolate ganache “chip”)
  • Cucumber-Lime-Mint Sorbetto (limited)
  • Fresh Lemon Sorbetto (very limited)  

DON’T FORGET: we have a new spot at the farmers’ market--Urbana Market at the Square. We are in spot #20 on the south-west (along Illinois Street) end of the market. We are right next to Moore Family Farm.

Farm Store Summer Hours

The farm’s summer hours have begun; now through the end of August, we are open Wednesdays-Fridays, 3-7 pm, as well as Saturdays and Sundays, 1-4 pm. The farm is a tranquil green space where you can come after work to unwind.

During our open hours, you can “build your own” cheese boards—pick out your cheeses, add a salami or jar of jam or pickled veggies, grab some Lucky Pierre bagel chips and we’ll provide the board. You can sit outside under our new pavilion roof and enjoy a glass of wine or beer with cheese!

If you just want to come out to do a little shopping in farm store, we’ll have cheese and scoops of gelato as well as other farmer products: locally milled whole wheat flour from The Mill at Janie’s Farm, meats, poultry eggs from Bane Family Meats, Piemonte Sausages and Jams from Autumn Berry Inspired and Prairie Fruits Farm “merch.” Check out the new products by Sarah Stewart (our former gelato maker); pickled ramps, pickled shitake mushrooms, fermented green garlic in brine and spring pestos (green garlic-pistachio and wild ramp). 

Dinners on the Farm: Our 2018 season is underway. Summer is a great time to enjoy dining outside at the farm, especially under our new timber-frame pavilion. We have some fantastic themes for summer—“Summer Tapas,” “A Southern Style Seafood Boil,” “A Cheesy Affair” (with guest from Pastoral Appellation Wine Bar) and “Summer Vegetarian” (with guest chef Dan Compton of Vie Restaurant). Hurry; tickets are going fast.

Do you dream of having goats in your life?  Do you want a family milk goat? How about for brush control or rural pet? Goats are wonderful working animals and affectionate companions too. We have great breeding stock with excellent health and milk records.  We have several does that are bred and due to kid in mid-July as well as a couple of milkers. We also have retired does, bucklings and wethers for grazing/brush control and companion animal needs. Check out what's available and contact us if interested. 


Copyright 2018. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2018. All rights reserved. 4410 N. Lincoln Ave., Champaign, Illinois 61822 Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC is responsible for the content of this email. Please contact Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell with any inquiries.