Goat Conundrum

A few years ago I came across this book by Margaret Hathaway.  The concept seemed so cool, she was the manager of Magnolia Bakery in NY and her husband was a photographer for a big magazine. They decided to chuck the city life and become goat farmers.  They spent a year researching everything goat and wrote about their travels. They now have a goat farm and seem quite happy with having left the Big Apple for greener pastures.

As a lover of cheese and more preciously goat cheese, the book seemed really endearing. On this crazy food journey, I began to read more and more about cheese and couldn’t believe that in my late 30’s that I actually pieced together how cheese is made.  So before I begin this blog entry, let me just say this, I am not here to judge at all.  The whole part of Mindful Meals is to be “mindful” of what is going in our mouths and sometimes it is having to ask some hard questions.

This week at Chicago French Market, Pastoral Cheese was having a goat cheese tasting with Leslie Cooperband from Prairie Fruits Farm. She has a wonderful farm with organic orchard trees and raises goats. There is a video here that talks about the farm. As she shared her story it was nice to hear about someone caring about the environment, trying to instill sustainability, and talk passionately about the goats she raises.

But for years I have had a question to ask and Leslie seemed like a genuine person who would answer it straight- and she did.  I had read so many different things, but I wanted to hear from the “source.” And what is the question?  Well, if the goats are being milked twice a day (because the only way you get milk to make the cheese, is by having a female animal lactate) how are the babies being fed?  Leslie said, the goats are taken away from their mothers immediately after birth and bottle fed for two months.  The mothers continue to be milked for 10 months.

When you walk up to a cheese counter do you ever think about that?

I’m not even sure what to do with that?  Give up a cheese platter at a restaurant like I had last week? Buy from farmers like Leslie who are treating the animals with compassion after they are being taken from their mothers?  Stick my head in the sand and order a cheese pizza with no regard for being “mindful?”

In the end, I thank Leslie for her honesty.  It has provided me and hopefully you readers a chance to dig deep in what our beliefs are.



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3 responses to “Goat Conundrum

  1. Mom

    I love cheese too, and goat cheese is one of my favorites. I care about what I am eating and where it comes from but I never loose sight of the fact that to “make an omelette you have to break some eggs”. So the babies get taken away from the moms, at least the human in this venture cares for them. And who is to say that the mom isn’t happier having a nice warm gentle hand releasing her milk than a greedy kid tugging on her teet. So bottom line, be “mindful” of your food but don’t overthink the relationship an animal has with its offspring. Some animals even eat them, and that isn’t nice at all.

  2. Melissa

    Watch the video- there are no warm hands releasing her milk. As Americans we are so far removed from our food that I think we can sell ourselves this Disney picture in our heads of “warm hands, tails wagging, frolicking in the pasture.” If you or I am going to partake in eating cheese, meat, eggs then I think it is our responsibility to understand what is happening for real. That way, a true educated decision can be made.

  3. Mom

    OK, No warm Hands but I did see tails wagging. If a product is going to be available to consumers in a store and available for purchase by you and I than a certain amount of efficient production of that food has to be. Otherwise we would have to travel to the farm in order to have these products on our dinner table. You are right about our Disney picture of animals, and that is part of why we have taken, what is a natural process of our food chain, and elevated it to human like emotions and given human like attributes to the food we eat. There has to be a point where we care about the provenance of our food, expect our food to be safe and free from harmful chemicals yet still recognize it as food and not a product with human emotions and feelings. But then I am the only person alive that doesn’t cry when watching Beaches.

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