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.