With warm weather and re-opened trails beckoning to hikers and outdoor enthusiasts, packing up nutritious snacks and meals to take along is important. Cheese is the perfect high-protein food to throw in your backpack. With the array of hike-friendly cheeses available, even the most discerning hiker will have options to choose from.
What kind of cheese should I bring on my hike?
The next time you pack your backpack for a hike, avoid taking soft cheeses (brie, goat cheese or cream cheeses) and go for hard and dry cheeses like Cheddar, Parmesan and Gouda. Avoid shredding your cheese or cutting it into chunks before hiking as it speeds up the aging process and provides more chance of getting contaminated by bacteria.
How should I store my cheese?
Store your cheese in parchment paper while traveling, the porous surface allows cheese to breathe and helps in retaining it’s flavor. Replace your wrap frequently to reduce “sweating” (the process of butterfat separating from the cheese). And don’t forget to store cheese away from hot locations in your backpack and direct sun exposure.
Here’s a list of some popular dry and hard cheeses you can take with you in your backpack:
How do I keep cheese fresh?
A good habit to get into at home and on the trail, is to write down the date you initially stored your cheese on it’s storage container. This helps you to measure when your cheese may be past it’s prime. And if you’re backpacking for several days – keep your cheese in one block. Cutting it into pieces increases the surface area that can get contaminated by mold and bacteria.
How can you tell if your cheese is past it’s prime?
Always adhere to the 2 Hour Rule for leaving perishables out: After being in room temperature for 2 hours, always re-refrigerate hard cheeses and throw out soft cheeses.
Sustainability, quality, innovation … you could say the Oregon dairy community has a lot to celebrate. And you’d be right! Over the past couple of years, our producers, processors, and individuals within the community keep setting the bar higher, earning recognition regionally, nationally, and even internationally.
To acknowledge individuals for their lifelong contributions to Oregon’s Dairy Industry, the Oregon Dairy Farmers Association presents two annual awards at the state convention. Recent recipients have included:
Community Service Award – Roger and Jessie DeJager (2020)
Distinguished Service Award – Troy Downing (2020)
Community Service Award – Tom Johnson (2019)
Distinguished Service Award – Will Wise and Julie Hoffman (2019)
Oregon Dairy Industries, also known as ODI, was founded in 1910 to promote and elevate interest in dairy food products in the western United States. Each year, exceptional ODI members are recognized with the Oregon Dairy Industries Award. The 2020 Sweepstakes Award recipients included:
Oregon Ag Fest seeks to reward student organizations, nonprofit groups or classrooms that promote and educate Oregonians about agriculture. In 2020, Lost River FFA of Merrill, Oregon, won first place, and the Oregon Dairy Princess Ambassador program won second place. The Oregon Dairy Women’s Dairy Princess Ambassador Program was created in 1959 to promote and provide outreach on behalf of the Oregon dairy industry. In 2019, they were able to reach more than 10,000 students statewide with in school presentations and county fairs. In 2020, they adjusted their programs to meet students virtually.
The Oregon dairy community has proven they can walk the walk when talking about sustainability. As an annual award that recognizes dairy farms, businesses and collaborative partnerships that demonstrate outstanding economic, environmental and social benefits, Oregon provides powerful examples of dairy sustainability leadership.
The American Cheese Society Judging and Competition is the largest competition of its kind for American cheese. The awards are designed to shine a spotlight on American cheesemakers by showcasing their talents and work as leaders within the industry. Unfortunately, this competition has been cancelled for 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, many Oregon cheesemakers were celebrated in 2019.
This contest, sponsored by the Wisconsin Dairy Products Association, is unique because it includes all dairy products. This competition was also cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, but it gives us an opportunity to continue celebrating Oregon’s winners in 2019:
A celebration of American cheesemakers, NMPF’s yearly competition went virtual in 2020. In spite of the virtual contest, they still received nearly 190 entries of cheese and cottage cheese. Darigold claimed top honors for Best Cottage Cheese last year with their Pineapple Cottage Cheese.
Presented by the Good Food Foundation, this award is not solely focused on dairy food products, and it is judged on quality, sustainability and socially responsible production. Amongst the nearly 2,000 entries in 16 different categories, Oregon creameries have been highlighted several years running.
These awards recognize its member creameries that go above and beyond in a variety of categories, including: production, quality, marketing, and customer service, highlighting superior performance in finished product quality, plant appearance, cleanliness, efficiency, management leadership and process control. Criteria includes laboratory test scores and evaluation of a plant’s process systems. The 2020 award winners included:
In the Olympics of all cheese competitions, cheeses are sent from around the world to be judged in a single day. Judges work in teams of three to identify cheeses worthy of a gold, silver, or bronze award based on the rind, color, texture, consistency and of course, taste. All teams also nominate a “Super Gold” from their table, and those top cheeses are judged a second time by a “Super Jury” of international judges. The final cheeses are debated in front of a live consumer and trade audience before choosing the Grand Champion Cheese on live television. In 2019, the first-ever American cheese was selected as the best in the world, and it was from Oregon.
This string of impressive awards and accomplishments speaks volumes about the individuals and organizations integral to the Oregon dairy community. Oregon may be a smaller dairy state compared to others in the U.S., but our positive impacts, high standards and great accomplishments continue to put our state among the best in class – now and into the future.
Spring is in the air, a time when many high school graduates and college students are looking to the future as they consider higher education and their future careers. Luckily, there are scholarships available to help pay for the ever-increasing costs.
The dairy community and others in the world of agriculture are also looking to the future as they seek to invest in the next generation of students who are seeking to make their career home in agriculture.
If you’re interested in an agricultural-related degree, don’t miss out on these scholarship opportunities! Deadlines are fast approaching, so the time to act is now.
Awarded to students majoring in Animal Science, Food Science, Veterinary Science, Nutrition, Dietetics or other areas related or having an impact on the dairy industry, or be the son or daughter of an Oregon dairy family or worked on a dairy for at least two years or had a 4-H or FFA dairy project for four years.
Connecting college students from across the country who are passionate about sharing positive information about animal agriculture.
Oregon has many great institutions where students can earn degrees at all levels from associate to doctoral, gaining work experience along the way. There are many career opportunities related to agriculture and food production to fit many interests, from food science to animal nutrition, veterinary services to agronomy.
Join ODNC and Food Hero with Food Hero’s Grow This! Oregon Garden Challenge this spring. 38,000 free seed packets, donated by Bi-Mart, will be distributed by Food Hero to Oregon state residents as part of the program which aims to inspire kids to grow their own gardensand eat a healthy diet.
You can register to pick up a seed kit with Food Hero while supplies last. The seed packets will be available in 4 different seed kits: cool-weather vegetables, warm-weather vegetables, herb or edible flowers and flowers that attract pollinators, like bees and birds. Or you can join in with your own seeds, says Halie Cousineau, OSU Extension Food Hero state garden education coordinator.
The Food Hero Facebook page will hold weekly office hours when gardeners can ask questions, post photos and share their accomplishments, Cousineau said. Once they harvest their produce, gardeners can find more than 300 recipes using vegetables and fruits on the Food Hero website.
Children are a big part of the program. Beginning April 1, digital lessons will be released every Thursday through June 10 when school ends. The lineup includes Growing Healthy Kids with OSU Master Gardeners and a four-week lesson plan in partnership with the Oregon Bee Project. Kids will learn about how bees help make healthy food and how to identify several of Oregon’s bees.
Kids can upcycle their yogurt or milk containers and use sleeves provided by ODNC to help track the care and progress of their plants. Download yours here!
Throughout summer and into fall, participants will receive a monthly Grow This! Oregon Garden Challenge email with gardening information, harvest recipes and storage tips. Challenge information will also be available in English and Spanish on the Food Hero gardening page. For more personalized interaction, participants can email challenge leaders or email or call the Master Gardeners in their area.
“We’re trying to make the program accessible to anyone, children, elders, people with special needs and the diversity of cultural populations in Oregon,” said Cousineau. “We’re encouraging people anywhere to join. We want to make a community.”
During the month of February, grilled cheese lovers have rejoiced with the return of The Melt Down in Yamhill County. This month-long event features 30 unique, gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches from 30 different restaurants and food carts. Best of all, $2 from every sandwich supports a regional network of 17 emergency food pantries, known as YCAP.
Grilled Macaroni and Cheese Sandwich – Made with house made mac and cheese with tomato soup mixed in
Double Dog Dare Ya – Layers of pepper jack, pickled jalapeños, cranberry, bacon and cream cheese
PB & JK – With smoked pork belly, burrata and fig jam
It’s Chive O’Clock Somewhere – Cotswold and swiss, topped with jalapeño jam, caramelized leek, shallot spread and chive-infused butter… bacon optional!
Sour Cheddar Chow – Scrambled eggs with ham, cheddar cheese, and spinach in a homemade sourdough waffle
Slayer Melt – A melted selection of cheeses, stout braised onions, peppadew peppers, with sweet and tangy smoked beef brisket
If you want to try these delicious variations on the classic grilled cheese- don’t delay! While some of the sandwiches remain available after February 28, most are limited-time creations available solely during The Melt Down this month.
In support of YCAP, the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council is among the sponsors of this growing, dairy-positive, annual community event supporting a good cause. It’s a natural partnership since most of the sandwiches use Oregon-made cheeses and butter. In past years, Oregon dairy producers, processors, and Dairy Princess Ambassadors have been featured as part of the event.
This year, Yamhill County Dairy Princess Ambassador Libby, created her own DIY grilled cheese to help support The Melt Down:
Accolades and appreciation for the event keep pouring in. “I can’t even believe how incredibly successful The Melt Down was this year … thank you so much for all of the incredible support you guys provide,” said Diane Longaker, organizer of The Melt Down in 2020.
Loredana Wilkerson posted, “Finally got to eat the #tmd2021 offering at Conservatory Bar tonight… so very glad indeed. “It’s Chive O’Clock Somewhere” is indeed special. Everything about it was well-balanced IMHO. Everything.”
Ted Tracey also had glowing praise for the event, “Went to 3 places on Saturday for #TMD2021! The first was from #GrainStation and it is now at the top of my list for grilled cheeses this year! The cheeses were fantastic and the caramelized onions were a deliciously sweet addition alongside the au jous!”
In February 2020, participating restaurants sold 13,532 grilled cheese sandwiches, more than double from the year before, making it a win-win for local restaurants in the community. Each year, the event generates increased business, and the food pantries receive much-needed financial support to meet ever-growing demand in their communities. You can even add a third win, since the participants in this event get to enjoy gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. Bon appetit!
With power outages happening throughout Northwest Oregon, people may be tempted to store their dairy products outside to keep them cold and fresh. Please don’t! When perishable dairy items (like milk, yogurt and ice cream) are left outside, they can become unsafe to eat.
Please follow these tips to store and enjoy your dairy products safely:
• If in doubt, throw it out. If a dairy product has been unrefrigerated for longer than 2 hours, it can become contaminated by harmful bacteria. Be safe and throw it out.
• Do not store your food outside, even if it’s freezing. The USDA says that outside temperatures are inconsistent, causing chilled food to enter the “danger zone” of warmer than 40°F, allowing harmful bacteria to grow.
• Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed. A refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if the door is kept closed. A full freezer will hold its temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if half-full).
• Eat shelf-stable pantry goods.Shelf-stable milk comes in special containers and does not need to be refrigerated before consumption. You can also use powdered milk as an alternative. Please use safe, potable water when mixing and drinking.
• Once power returns, check the temperature inside your refrigerator and freezer. With the exception of some hard cheeses, when a dairy product has been left in the unit above 40°F for two hours or more, toss it. Also, keep in mind that it will take several hours for your refrigerator or freezer to create a safe temperature for storing food. To keep the cooling process active, fill it with cool, not warm or hot, food.
Here are more resources on keeping your dairy foods safe:
Imagine picking up your milk in glass bottles directly from the dairy farm as the cows are mooing in the background – or having your milk delivered right to your door. Although this may sound like a treasured memory from your grandmother’s past, four dairy farms in Oregon are bringing forward these time-honored traditions with some delicious options.
Whole, pasteurized milk that is not homogenized is commonly called “creamline milk.” When the milk is homogenized, the healthy fats that occur naturally in milk are broken down to distribute evenly throughout the gallon. In non-homogenized milk, that healthy fat rises to the top to create a line of cream. Before homogenization was invented in 1899 milk drinkers would shake their milk to distribute the cream.
Milk’s nutrition benefits also come in many tasty flavors! Like “Schocolate” Milk from Schoch Dairy & Creamery, Vanilla Latte Milk from Royal Riverside Farm, or Banana Milk from Lady Lane Farm. You can even get seasonal flavors like Blackberry Milk from Rising Sun Dairy.
Although some grocery stores carry creamline and small batch flavored milk, you can also buy your favorite dairy products and more right at the farm! Check out the list below for an option near you.
In closing, here are some quick tips. When visiting a farm, watch for signage, and park in designated areas. Avoid wandering into other parts of the farm without permission. Practice social distancing and bring a mask to ensure safety. Lastly, some farms take cash only, and if you aren’t going straight home from the farm, be sure to bring a cooler with some ice for safe storage.
As we leave 2020 in the rear view mirror, we look back at a year that was unpredictable and exasperating for many. Time and time again, Oregon dairy farmers, processors and those in the dairy community proved to be resilient and rose to challenge after challenge. Among them; the pandemic, temporary supply chain disruptions, increased hunger, and historic wildfires. Throughout it all, Oregon dairy farmers proved they were there for their communities while working to provide nutritious dairy products – all without skipping a beat.
March abruptly impacted any previously made plans for the year. With the beginning of a statewide lockdown to control the spread of COVID-19, toilet paper made headlines as Oregonians began stocking up on supplies, but they also started to clean grocery shelves out of butter, cheese, milk and ice cream. Stores, and all those throughout the supply chain, quickly adjusted to meet the increased demand for milk and dairy foods. As restaurants and retailers closed their brick and mortar locations to the public, people were advised by government officials and medical professionals to Stay Home, Stay Safe and Stay Healthy.
As the shutdown continued, restaurant and retail closures unfortunately followed throughout the year, with notable Portland establishments like Toro Bravo, Beast and the much-loved Cheese Bar closing permanently. The closures impacted dairy and many other locally produced foods that supply restaurants and food service companies.
More people took to making their meals at home, using pantry staples like butter, milk, yogurt and cream. Stacy Foster, from our own team, joined in with her daughter, creating a delicious recipe from Food Hero.
Although though most summer events, like the Oregon State Fair, were cancelled due to the coronavirus, ingenious solutions were created to keep traditions going. The Oregon Dairy Women celebrated the 51st year of their Red Barn Ice Cream event by taking it on the road with the help of Wilco. By the end of the summer, they had visited five cities in Oregon and served hundreds people their famous cones and shakes.
Free summer meals were extended throughout Oregon through the year, resulting in nutritious food boxes and assistance programs that helped kids and families across the state.
And some farmers gave to their communities personally, like Rickreall Dairy, which celebrated the farm’s 30th anniversary by donating several hundred grocery bags full of food and milk to neighbors in need in their community. Tillamook dairy farmer Derrick Josi (aka TDF Honest Farming) bought meals for linesmen following a severe windstorm and for first responders during the subsequent wildfires.
Throughout it all, Oregon dairy farmers have been there, supporting their communities in ways too numerous to count, with delicious and nutritious food, helping their communities and caring for their animals and the earth. In 2020, dairy truly made everything better for a lot of people.
From our families to yours, we hope this next year is a safe, healthy and happy one.
Innovative, visionary, brilliant, genuine, caring – friends and colleagues have used all these words and more to describe Marty Myers. Marty was the General Manager of Threemile Canyon Farms since 1998 and served on the board of the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council since 2013. He passed away unexpectedly on December 1 at his home, and the loss will be felt throughout dairy, agriculture and local communities where he made a positive impact.
The following is a statement from Warren Chamberlain, Chairman of the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council’s Board of Commissioners:
We were saddened by the news that Marty Myers, general manager of Threemile Canyon Farms, died this week.
On behalf of our Board and staff, we wish to express our sincere condolences, thoughts, and prayers to his family.
Marty was an inspiring and visionary member of our Oregon and Dairy Nutrition Council Board of Commissioners, and a true friend. Marty’s insight, thoughtfulness, and willingness to work with all points of view benefitted not only ODNC, but Oregon’s dairy industry overall.
Under his guidance, Threemile Canyon Farms has become a leading example of Oregon agriculture in workforce development, adaptation of new technologies, community support, and sustainability. Marty’s vision of a closed-loop system and other sustainability innovations earned Threemile Canyon national recognition. This year, the farm was recognized as a 2020 Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability award winner by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy.
As a fifth-generation Oregonian, Marty gave much to the state in a lifelong agricultural career. We will continue our work at ODNC in the spirit of Marty’s vision and in the memory of his friendship.
This is a statement by Tim Curoe, CEO of R.D. Offutt Company, the parent company to Threemile Canyon Farms:
“Marty Myers was the visionary force behind Threemile Canyon Farms. He had a vision for the farm to be a sustainable operation, which was well ahead of the times. He brought that idea into reality by creating a ‘closed loop’ system where nothing would be wasted, and that remains the foundation for the farm’s remarkable and continued success.
“There just aren’t enough kind words to use when describing Marty. He was thoughtful, quick to laugh, and someone who always focused on what was possible. But most of all, I will remember him as friend and a true partner. He will be dearly missed but his vision will most certainly live on.”
Marty Myers leaves an impressive and lasting legacy, and he will be missed. In lieu of flowers or other gifts, Marty’s family is encouraging donations to Blanchet House and Oregon Food Bank in his honor. Cards, letters and remembrances can be sent to:
You could say that 2020 has been quite a year with the triple challenge of Covid-19, wildfires and food insecurity for communities across Oregon. Following in the tradition of giving thanks, we’re highlighting people and organizations in the dairy community who have given generously to make a positive difference this year. Join us in saying #Thanks4Giving to these community heroes.
Thanks4 Helping Schools in Need // This year hunger impacted many communities throughout Oregon. We’d like to say #Thanks4Giving to Safeway/Albertsons and GENYOUth whose “Help Feed Families During the Crisis” campaign generated $450,000 in emergency grant funding for Oregon schools to aid them in distributing free, nutritious meals to children during the school year.
“The support from Safeway and Albertsons has shown how communities can rise up and come together to support the needs of children.” said Alex Singer, Nutrition Services Director for Central School District in Independence/Monmouth.
Thanks4 Clearing the Air // We’re also thankful for Darlene Sichley of Abiqua Acres, who cared for her community during the recent wildfires by procuring 72 much-needed air filters to help clear unhealthy smoke from their homes so that her neighbors could breathe more easily.
“We may have had some difficulties, but the power of the community of helpers is greater than the fear and is the brightest light of hope,” said Darlene in a recent issue of Cowsmopolitan.
Thanks4 Helping Communities with Hunger // Incredible generosity makes for an incredible community. When Sarah Marcus of Briar Rose Creamery heard about hunger in her community, she donated over 250 lbs of their delicious, handcrafted Fromage Blanc cheese to the YCAP Food Bank.
Thanks4 Community Teamwork // And thanks to the team at Rickreall Dairy, who decided to pay things forward on their farm’s 30th anniversary by giving away over 400 bags of groceries, including fresh milk and meat from their farm, to their community.
“We just pray that this random act of kindness will give everyone the hope they need as we all struggle through these crazy times,” said Rickreall owner, Louie Kazemier.
Thanks4 Caring for First Responders // Oregon has no shortage of farmers who want to give back. Derrick Josi, of TDF Honest Farming in Tillamook, called on his 400,000+ Facebook followers to support their local first responders during the wildfires earlier this year. His call to action resulted in a Tillamook coffee shop receiving over $1,000 to cover breakfasts for firefighters working to save homes and dairy farms threatened by the Pike Fire.
On behalf of the Oregon dairy community, we’re thankful for you! When you buydelicious dairy products, you support local dairy families, communities and businesses throughout the state. Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving!