Category Archives: news and events

Stay Home, Stay Safe, Stay Healthy

We will all remember the Spring of 2020 because of the stay at home restrictions put in place to help stop the spread of disease.   To make the most of the time, we offer you these tips to stay healthy while staying home.

Eat Well. Our bodies need the best fuel every day, and this is a great time to focus on healthy food choices.  Eating a balanced diet, which includes lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, dairy and whole grains, can help keep you healthy. And, it’s easy! Use the USDA’s MyPlate app as your guide.  Think about food groups when planning meals and snacks.  Try for at least two food groups for a snack – fruit and cheese, for example – and at least three for a meal – whole grain pasta, tomato sauce with added vegetables, and lean ground beef.  Pour a glass of milk to round out the meal.

Drink plenty of fluids. Your body depends on fluids to survive, and most healthy people can stay well hydrated by drinking water and other fluids whenever they feel thirsty. Water is recommended, but when you want something different, consider drinks that won’t add unnecessary sugars to your diet, like milk. Milk not only tastes great, it also is an affordable, excellent source of 9 essential nutrients. And, did you know that three of the nutrients – vitamin A, vitamin D, and protein – are essential for a healthy immune function?

Get fresh air. While doctors don’t typically prescribe sitting on your porch to cure an ailment, they do say that stepping outside can help to impact both our physical and mental health.  Open a window, take a walk, or sit on your porch. “Taking a short break outdoors can leave you feeling refreshed and more energized to get back to your daily tasks,” says Dr. Jimmy Johannes, a pulmonologist at Long Beach Medical in this article. Plus, it’s easy to keep a safe “social distance” outdoors!

Keep moving. Just because the gyms are closed doesn’t mean you should stop your exercise routine. Use this time as an opportunity to try something new. Many gyms are offering online classes, and many at home programs are offering free trials. Who knows? Maybe now is the time to start training for your next 5k or marathon. It starts with the resolve to keep moving. Need to get started? The Department of Health and Human Services offers physical activity guidelines and practical ways to be active on their website.

Get plenty of sleep. Getting a good night of sleep not only helps you feel and think better, it can also help you manage stress. Start with a healthy evening routine.  Turn off the screens, including your phone, an hour before bed and pick up a good book, meditate, write, play music or find another relaxing activity that will settle your brain.  Being “stuck” at home does mean you have an opportunity to binge-watch your favorite television show, just consider that getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep will help you stay healthy.

Do something good. Times are stressful. People are uncertain, confused and cooped up. A great way to help manage your own stress is to take time each day to do something for someone else. Check on a neighbor, share a roll of TP, call a parent or grandparent, sew some masks for healthcare workers, or donate funds to your local food bank. While you are at it, thank a farmer for continuing to produce food for your family. Even doing something small for someone else will boost your mood- and theirs too!

Help Spread the Word So Oregon Kids Don’t Go Hungry

New meal programs are opening to children ages 1 to 18 in school districts statewide, thanks to dedicated school nutrition professionals around the state with the support and partnership of Oregon Department of Education Child Nutrition Programs.

Check out a meal site near you, and help spread the word on your social media accounts and in your community to help families with kids ages 1 to 18.

Here is a list of programs compiled by Partners for a Hunger Free Oregon.

According to No Kid Hungry, one in six American children faces hunger and three out of four teachers report regularly seeing hungry kids in their classrooms. Oregon is especially high in food insecurity for youth. When school lets out unexpectedly for something like the coronavirus, it poses potential problems for many students who depend on school meals.

That’s why many school districts are now providing drive up or walk up, “grab-and-go” meals at selected school sites for all youth from 1 to 18 years old at no cost, regardless of income. These meals meet strict regulations for nutrition and are provided at no charge, with no need to sign up or show identification.

Lunches available at a school in Hillsboro.

Even though these grab-and-go programs were just rolled out, they are already working. Hillsboro School District, just west of Portland, announced that 2,000 lunches and 1,200 breakfasts were served on one of the first days they were offered. Nutrition directors in Oregon and across the country anticipate the numbers will continue to rise as households are affected more long term and consume their existing and emergency food supplies.

On March 17, Governor Brown announced that schools in Oregon will remain closed until Tuesday, April 28. Since this situation is evolving, families are encouraged to check their school district website for updates and current information on local meal sites.

RELATED LINKS:

Accessing food during the Coronavirus outbreak

Where Portland-area families can find free grab-and-go kids meals during school shutdown

Oregon, Washington school districts offer meals to students amid coronavirus closures

Domino’s and Dairy: A Partnership Powered by Pizza

What does a popular pizza chain and a local dairy have in common? A lot more than just cheese. Both are part of a strong partnership that benefits farmers, local franchisees and their communities.

Recently, Jake Fraizer of Dallas, Oregon, was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation from the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council for his exemplary contributions to the dairy industry and his local community.

Jake Fraizer has only had one job in his life. “I started delivering pizzas when I was 18, and worked my way up,” he said. Now 17 years later, he’s part owner in a successful Domino’s pizza store in Dallas, Oregon. “I love it,” he said. “I still love delivering. No one is ever mad to see the pizza guy.”

In 2019, Domino’s was named the top pizza chain based on annual sales, but that has not always been the case. In a 2009, in a survey of consumer taste preferences among national pizza chains, Domino’s tied for last place. That same year Domino’s announced plans to entirely reinvent its pizza with a unique ad campaign where consumers were filmed criticizing the pizza quality, and chefs were shown developing a new pizza. The dairy checkoff organization, Dairy Management Inc. (DMI) committed to address this situation with Domino’s because about 25 percent of all U.S. cheese ends up on a pizza.

“During the past ten years, we have invested in partnerships with influential quick service restaurant companies,” said Marilyn Hershey, board member for DMI. “That investment includes providing these partners with consumer insights, product development and nutrition expertise to develop new menu choices that include dairy, and that in turn find new markets for farmer’s milk. “Our four key partners, Domino’s, McDonald’s, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut have moved more than 2 billion equivalent pounds of milk in the duration of our work together.”

“Domino’s is one of these partnerships that feels more like family than partner,” said Hershey. “They love our partnership, they love dairy farmers, and they love our cheese.”

“It’s nice for me to let customers know that the cheese is actually from a farm,” said Fraizer. “Everybody thinks all fast food is fake, and it’s not. So that’s a big part of it, especially when it comes to dairy. I’d rather have all of our ingredients locally, like in the US, instead of getting shipped around, so I like the dairy partnerships.”

But this small town Domino’s and a local dairy have more in common than just cheese.

“When we are harvesting the crops, my guys put in long hours. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to offer them a warm meal as a thank you,” said Louie Kazemier, Owner of Rickreall Dairy, located just outside of Dallas, Oregon.

Even though the farm is technically out of Fraizer’s service radius, he will still deliver to Rickreall Dairy.  “We deliver out to the dairy a lot,” said Fraizer. “Louie does so much for the community I don’t mind.”

And, Fraizer often goes above and beyond. One year, after a particularly difficult harvest, Fraizer didn’t charge anything for the pizzas. “I’m still not sure if he could see the exhaustion on my face or was just feeling generous, but either way it was really nice,” said Kazemier.

The appreciation is mutual. “He does so much for Christmas Cheer, and the community. And Christmas Cheer means a lot to me,” said Fraizer.

Christmas Cheer, a nonprofit organization in Dallas, feeds families in need over the holidays. Fraizer and his wife joined the board of directors four years ago. “I think every kid should see how lucky they are that they have food,” said Fraizer. “That was ingrained in me, especially by my dad.”  

Christmas Cheer does various canned food drives throughout the year, but the perishable items like meat and dairy products, are more difficult to obtain. Kazemier’s donation of ground beef and milk helped to feed 500 families this past Christmas. “Anything perishable like meat or milk or cheese is so expensive that getting a donation is massive,” says Fraizer.

Fraizer’s donation of time and effort is an easy decision. “I grew up in this town, I think it’s kind of selfish if I don’t [give back],” he said. “I also like that it’s local. I know exactly where the money is going”.

Kazemier shares Fraizer’s sentiments on giving back. “I’ve been blessed and I want to bless others,” he said.

Their lives barely ever intersect, except when pizza is delivered, but this dairy farm owner and franchisee partner together to not only make a high quality product for their customers, but also in giving back to their community.

RELATED LINKS:

Domino’s Bets Added Cheese Will Further Grow Brand

Domino’s- An Undeniably Strong Partnership

The Melt Down: Grilled Cheese Event Goes Bigger Than Ever

It’s a dream come true for fans of gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, and it’s bigger and better than ever in 2020.

There’s a popular month-long event called “The Melt Down,” where sales of signature grilled cheese sandwiches throughout February support YCAP regional food bank efforts to fight hunger. This year’s “Deluxe Edition” includes 68 participating restaurants and businesses in Yamhill County and 13 sponsors. The restaurants are in a friendly competition for the title of the “Biggest Cheese.”

Each restaurant has their own unique take on the classic grilled cheese sandwich, many with clever names to match. Some examples include: Diet Starts Tomorrow, The Triple Texan, Play with your Food, Ooey Gooey Tomato Grilled Cheesy and Check Yo Self Before You Raclette Yo Self. While there are options for the strict grilled cheese purists, some other ingredients include peanut butter, jalapeños, pineapple, pesto, potatoes, marinara, brisket, avocado and quince chutney.

But how to decide with so many options to choose from? Easy. There’s a passport with details on the sandwiches available at each stop, including their address and business hours. Those who show their passports get stamps or signatures to make them eligible to win prizes donated by 40 area businesses.

Local restaurants in the community are also winners since the event generates increased business thanks to The Melt Down. “It is hard to believe that a small idea just a few years ago has grown into such a successful fundraiser and has provided a much needed economic boost to so many businesses here in Yamhill County,” said YCAP Development Specialist Diane Longaker.

In 2019, more than 6,280 sandwiches were sold, raising approximately $20,000. That equals more than 65,000 meals for the people served by YCAP and its food bank. Oregon dairy farmers and processors including Tillamook and Organic Valley are supporting The Melt Down: Deluxe Edition with hopes for record-setting results. You can help by ordering a grilled cheese from participating restaurants through February 29.

RELATED LINKS:

The 2020 Melt Down: Deluxe Edition

YCAP Regional Food Bank

Meet Six Women Making a Difference in Dairy Farming

We’ve heard the old adage, “If you ate today, thank a farmer.” But who do you picture, when you think of a farmer? In today’s age, they are far from the stereotypes you learned about through nursery rhymes.

So today, we take a moment to recognize six of the hardworking women dairy farmers in Oregon.

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Melissa Collman was raised on a dairy and, fourteen years ago, committed to continuing her family’s legacy as a fourth generation dairy farmer. She says, “I take care of all the books for our dairy. I also do just a wide range from driving the rake, helping build fence, relief milker, relief calf feeder, cow mover, you name it. If there is grunt work I’m usually a part of that.” Melissa also advocates for the dairy industry through farm tours and events.

“The best thing about working on a dairy farm is the family time! It is unique in this day-and-age to get to spend so much time with your family and it is something to be treasured. Beyond that, we are a part of something bigger. We get to produce an extremely healthy and quality product for other families to enjoy. We get to take care of these beautiful, funny, goofy animals and do our best to give them a quality life.”

Read more about Melissa’s family farm in this article.

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Donata Doornenbal works alongside her parents on their organic dairy, Thomas Valley Farm. “I was born on a dairy, and at six years old I started helping with calf feeding. My dream is to continue on the dairy and share the joy with my future family,” she says. “My tasks include feeding calves and general calf care, milking, and a little office work. In the summer I also move, wrap, and stack silage bales, (those big white marshmallows that you see on farms) and do a lot of weed control.”

Donata views her role in the industry to be a rare privilege. “We work on the dairy because we want to. Every dairy farmer I know has so many skills and is continually learning in order to have the best business possible and farm in the best way possible.”

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Bobbi Frost is the fourth generation to work and live on her family’s farm, Harrold’s Dairy. She became a full-time farmer after graduating from Oregon State University in 2011. “Some days I am working with the cows and calves, and others I am cleaning barns or maintaining equipment. During harvest seasons I run the forage harvester,” she says.

“Not every day in Oregon is sunshine and blue sky … and neither is everyday spent working with three generations of your family, but I cannot imagine spending my life doing anything other than being a dairy farmer.”

Learn more about Bobbi Frost in this article.

Poland

Deanna Poland farms with her husband on their organic farm in central Oregon. “My first and most important role in the industry is to help our family run a smooth successful dairy.  I have many hats here on our dairy.  I am book keeper, calf feeder, tractor driver, CEO and educator. As an organic dairy farmer there is so much more book work and record keeping to be done.

Deanna became involved with the dairy industry when she was eight years old when her dad purchased an 80 cow dairy. “It was an extremely snowy cold January, and I was the one in charge of feeding calves. The calves were housed in individual hutches that were placed outside. We did not have bottle holders at the time and I had to stand and hold each bottle individually until it was empty. I think we had 8 calves when we took over the dairy. Let’s just say this little city girl had to get tough real quick!”

In spite of the long hours and inclement weather, Deanna says she wouldn’t have it any other way. “I truly love is the wholesomeness it brings to our family.  We teach our children the value of working hard and that there are no cutting corners in life if you want to be successful.  We like to consider us as, ‘Team Poland.’  We all have an important role on this dairy and if we all work together we can have a very wonderful life.”

Samek

Karen Samek is an Area Field Manager for Northwest Dairy Association, the co-op that owns Darigold. She grew up on a dairy in the Willamette Valley. “I remember driving a loader while my dad pulled off three tie hay bales in the dark at a very young age. Probably six or seven. I started feeding calves around age seven or eight.” She started working as a field manager for the dairy industry in 2011.

“I work with a group of 90 farmers on most issues/needs that happen between the co-op and the individual farms.  I am also visiting farms on a regular basis. I really enjoy being able to do something different every day. I also like going to different places every day. But, the aspect that enjoy the most is the people. We have a great group of people working in this industry. This includes the farmers as well as the allied industry folks.” 

Although the dairy industry isn’t always easy, Karen says. “It’s hard to watch our culture trend towards becoming less appreciative of their food and also less aware what it really takes to produce food. Farmers are some of the most resilient people that I know, and that’s what I love about them. They love what they do enough to weather the storms.”

schoch

Casey Schoch has been working alongside her husband on their family farm, Schoch Dairy and Creamery, since 1991. Located near Portland, Schoch Dairy is a third generation dairy farm, and is home to 40 cows. The milk from these cows is pasteurized, bottled and sold right on the property in their own creamery. 

Casey cares for the financials, and orders supplies for both dairy and the creamery, along with marketing, and customer relations. “Living and working on a dairy farm is such a unique way of life. It is a daily commitment to take care of the cows and the facilities. They depend on us every day, but they give a lot in return.

My family and I have a lifetime of wonderful experiences that come from the cows. I have learned a lot about myself over the years on the dairy farm. Some days are full of laughter and others are filled with tears, but I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world.”

Read more about Casey Schoch in this article.

Counting Down Our Top 10 Stories in 2019

What do Girl Scouts, a former NFL player, ice cream, scholarships and pizza have in common? They all made this year’s top 10 list of our most popular stories on odncouncil.org. Join as we count down the top stories of 2019, and see if you can guess which one took the number one spot. You might be surprised.

The order of this list was determined by people like you who visited our website and viewed our blog posts throughout the year. Thank you!

Without further ado, get the drum roll ready, and here we go:

10

Virtual Tours Bring Dairy Farms to the Classroom

Dairy tours can be enlightening for students who have never set foot on a farm or seen a cow in person. Since there’s no way to get all students to a dairy, this program uses technology to bring the dairy to the classroom.

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Going Rogue: Oregon Cheese Makes a Big Statement

It’s official: Oregon is home to the “best cheese in the world.” Rogue Creamery’s big win at the 2019 World Cheese Awards was a statement win, considering it was the first time an American cheese took top honors.

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Girl Scouts Earn Dairy Patch at TMK Creamery

Girl Scouts from Oregon and SW Washington gathered at TMK Creamery in Canby in September to earn their Oregon Dairy Patch. And for many of the Girl Scouts, it was the first time they had seen a cow up close.

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Food for Thought: Would You Eat What Cows Eat?

“Why do we give food to cows that could be used to feed people?” Tillamook dairy farmer Derrick Josi doesn’t just explain why that’s a bad idea, he shows you in an accompanying video.

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Free Money? Scholarships in Dairy and Agriculture

This just in: college is expensive. Ok, so that’s not exactly breaking news. Maybe that’s why this list of scholarships was so popular among parents of students who are pursuing degrees in dairy and agriculture.

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Nine Easy Ways to Hack Your Pizza

You know those cheap little frozen pizzas you get from the store that would work better as a Frisbee than a pizza? Or a disappointing delivery that looks nothing like the picture in the ads? Upgrade it using these tips!

4

Milk to the Rescue: Addressing an Ongoing Need

Milk is one of the most requested but least available items in food banks across the country. This story was about an influx of milk from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Emergency Food Assistance Program.

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Splish Splash If You Don’t Do the Math: The 2019 Milk Carton Boat Race

A popular Rose Festival tradition dating back to 1973, the Milk Carton Boat Race attracts fans of all ages. Kids, adults and teams race handmade boats whose buoyancy depends upon recycled milk jugs and cartons.

2

Anthony Newman Invites Kids to Enjoy Free Summer Meals

Sports broadcaster and former professional football player Anthony Newman helped get the word out about this important program. It helped kids get tasty, healthy lunches when school was out for the summer.

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Crowdsourced Oregon Ice Cream Trail Showcases Top Shops

Who doesn’t like ice cream? The crowdsourced Oregon Ice Cream Trail churned up a lot of attention for people eager to get the scoop on what shops made the list. People are still nominating locations to add to the trail, so stay tuned!


There were a couple of candidates for honorable mention. Our story about volunteer firefighter Steve Aamodt from 2018 could have made the list for still going strong in 2019. And knowing that our most frequently searched term is “DASH Diet,” it came as no surprise that this story from way back in 2017 asking “Is DASH the Best Diet … Ever?” is still getting attention.

So there you have it. That concludes last year’s list, but now you can help us with the next one for 2020. What unanswered questions do you have? What would you like to see us cover? Just let us know!


RELATED LINK

Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council Story Archive

Virtual Tours Bring Dairy Farms to the Classroom

There’s a new way for classrooms to take field trips, thanks to technology. Instead of bringing kids to the farm, we’re bringing dairies to a school near you.

In schools nationwide, it isn’t always possible for students to take educational field trips due to time or funding constraints and transportation logistics. These field trips are missed among teachers and students alike, as they can play an integral part of the learning process. Field trips are also one of the best ways to learn about agriculture.

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“Field trips help students see, experience and learn about agriculture straight from the source. Students love the opportunity to experience something new, and teachers welcome the opportunity for a guest to share with their class,” says Jessica Jansen, Executive Director for Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation.

Thanks to technology, there is a new way to learn about agriculture without ever having to board a school bus. It’s as simple as connecting via a smartphone and laptop for a virtual tour.

Recently, the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council partnered with Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom to host a virtual field trip at Rickreall Dairy. “It is incredibly important in my industry to educate students about what we do on a dairy farm,” says Louie Kazemier, owner of Rickreall Dairy, who also hosts traditional field trips every spring for more than 1,500 people yearly. “It gives students an opportunity to learn about where their food comes from, and also encourages them to think about career opportunities in agriculture.”

Agriculture in the Classroom, a nationwide educational program, is designed to help students develop an awareness and understanding that agriculture is the source of our food, clothing, shelter and other essentials. “At Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom we are passionate about connecting academic concepts to agricultural topics, and virtual farm field trips are a great way to do just that,” says Jansen. “We’re providing students the opportunity to witness new and exciting topics while showing them how this connects to what they are learning in the classroom.”

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For a dairy virtual tour, teachers sign up though the Agriculture in the Classroom website. A limited number of classrooms can sign up, and the first tour was booked in less than 24 hours. A week prior to the tour, the classroom receives a sensory box to explore items that they will view during the tour. For dairy farming, they focus on items that students can touch and smell like alfalfa, grain, and ear tags.

There are opportunities to learn about STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) though virtual tours. Whether it’s the math of converting pounds of milk into gallons, or the science of animal nutrition, STEM learning opportunities are abundant on a dairy farm.

“Through a field trip we provide students and educators context and relevancy with examples of why it’s important to know math, science and other content areas. The math alone on a dairy farm is extensive and helping students see how important it is and it being used is priceless for students,” says Jansen.

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The tours are filmed live using Zoom videoconferencing, but there are other platforms that could be used as well. “We recently brought 500 3rd through 5th graders through our barns in a little under an hour just by using Zoom,” says Kazemier, “and not only do they get to hear me explain what they are seeing on the screen, but they also get to ask their own questions in real-time.”

“One of my goals at the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council is to make it as easy as possible for dairy farmers to share their farms with students,” says Stacy Foster, Industry Relations and Communications Manager at ODNC. “Dairy farmers are incredibly busy. Virtual tours provide an opportunity for us to reach across the state of Oregon to hundreds of students in only one hour.”

Kazemier also appreciates that virtual tours can educate beyond traditional field trips. “There are places on a dairy farm that we would never go with students due to concerns of liability, biosecurity and cleanliness. With the virtual tour, we can literally give classrooms a “backstage pass” to our facility. They get to walk where the cows walk, and get up close and personal with our animals,” says Louie Kazemier.

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“While virtual farm field trips shouldn’t be a replacement for all farm field trips, it’s a great way to reach students who might not ever have the opportunity for a field trip,” says Jansen. Agriculture in the Classroom has plans to continue the program, with dairy and other agriculture sectors. “We’ll be planning two more dairy field trips, a series of two ranch-related tours this spring and a few crop-related experiences. Interested teachers can sign up for updates on our website.”

RELATED LINKS:

Virtual Farm Field Trip at Rickreall Dairy 

Calf Barn Virtual Field Trip at Rickreall Dairy

Wow Your Holiday Guests with These Cheese and Chocolate Pairings

This holiday season, we recommend you introduce your friends and family to a new power couple: cheese and chocolate. That’s right, two individual favorites combine to give you an unexpectedly compatible taste that is sure to impress at your next holiday party. If you’re in a hurry, skip to the bottom for suggestions on pairings.

But, why pair cheese and chocolate together?

You have heard the saying that opposites attract, but in this case it’s the similarities in cheese and chocolate that make them pair well together.

1. Both are indulgent.

Typically cheese or chocolate are among the top snacks Americans will reach for when they want some decadence. Pair them together and you get a luxury hors d’oeuvre perfect for special occasions.

2. Both flavor profiles can be sweet.

Typically, cheese is considered to be a savory treat, and chocolate a sweet snack. However, depending on your cheese type, it can have a sweeter aftertaste and the darker the chocolate the more savory the taste.

3. Both chocolate and cheese are fermented.

Most people understand the cheese making process of fermenting milk, but did you realize the cacao bean must first be fermented in order to make chocolate? The fermentation process makes cheese and chocolate a winning combination much like our traditional preference to pair cheese and wine.

4. Both cheese and chocolate can contribute to your health.

Cheese has the nutritious benefits of protein, calcium, and phosphorus, along with vitamins A and B12. And although chocolate isn’t always known for its nutritional benefits, the main ingredient in chocolate, cacao, is abundant in the antioxidant flavonoids and theobromine.  Now, we aren’t suggesting that cheese and chocolate can replace your greens at dinner, but we are saying the combination can be part of an overall healthy diet.

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Make the most of your tasting experience.

Turns out there is an art and science to pairing foods, however, there are no rules when it comes to pairing cheese with chocolate; it’s a matter of personal preference, so feel free to experiment! And, if you are wanting to pair like the professionals, here are a few tips:

1. Smell both the chocolate and cheese before tasting.

Did you ever wonder why sommeliers smell the wine before tasting? It’s because aroma and taste combine to create a flavor profile through the nose and mouth that is interpreted to the brain for a more thorough tasting experience. When you smell your chocolate and cheese combination, it will give you a more complete flavor.

2. Resist the urge to chew the chocolate.

We recommend tasting the chocolate first, and make sure to release the flavors slowly by pressing a small piece to the roof of your mouth and running your tongue along the bottom of it, allowing it to melt. This will help you appreciate the texture of the chocolate, along with the specifics of flavor. With many chocolates, the flavor will change as it melts in your mouth. Once you have enjoyed the taste of chocolate on its own, add a small bite of cheese and notice the flavor change again.

Setting up your tasting

You can try any number of combinations to determine your favorite flavors and textures, but here are a few tips to get you started.

1. Choose high quality cheeses and chocolates.

Although it may be tempting to reach for your leftover Halloween candy and your regular cheddar for a pairing, we recommend thinking outside of the box. Consider buying your cheese from a cheese counter, or a local creamery. For the chocolate, look for chocolates made with high quality cacao and fewer ingredients. You may be surprised to find quality, local chocolates with a simple search.

2. Bring the chocolate and cheese to room temperature.

Once you have selected your cheeses and chocolates, cut them into bite sized pieces and let them sit at room temperature for 30 to 40 minutes. This will help you appreciate their aromas and taste.

3. Offer a palate cleanser.

Be sure to offer crackers or fruit in between pairings to give your guests’ taste buds a rest.

4. Organize your pairings.

Order the pairings from mild in flavor to bold in intensity.  This will help you guide the tasting and prevent taste buds from being overwhelmed.

Now you’re the expert.

That’s it! You are well on your way to becoming a cheese and chocolate connoisseur at your next holiday party. However, if you are need of some inspired combinations, here are some our favorites to get you started.

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Monterey Jack with Milk Chocolate

Both the milk chocolate and the Monterey Jack will bring out the other’s soft and creamy texture to create a classic and delicious pairing.

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Vintage Extra Sharp with Dark Chocolate Raspberry

This specialty aged cheeses are known for robust flavor, creamy and buttery with a bite, so it pairs with the tartness of the Dark Chocolate Raspberry. The brightness of the raspberry balances the slight bitterness of a vintage white.

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Smoked Black Pepper with Sea Salt

This paring is a tribute to the classic salt and pepper pairing. Did you know salt is the only rock that we eat? And, the enduring popularity of black pepper may owe itself to one picky eater, French King Louis XIV who preferred only salt and pepper, to the extent that he banned all other seasonings.

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English cheddar with Salted Almond Dark Chocolate or Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond

English cheddars tend to be a slightly sweet and creamy cheddar. See what chocolate pairing your friends prefer! Whether they go with more sweet or savory, the almonds will add texture and bring out a nutty flavor to the cheese.

hot habanero jack with milk chocolate

Hot Habanero Jack with Milk Chocolate

And end your tasting with a paring where opposites attract. Milk chocolate is chosen to pair with a habanero in this Monterey Jack cheese to cool the spice on your tongue, while still bringing out the creamy texture in both the chocolate and the cheese creating a classily delicious pairing.

When it comes to pairing chocolate and cheese, it is all about personal preferences. Doing some “research” with family and friends can bring some fun and tasty pairings to your next holiday get together.

RELATED LINKS:

Cheese and Chocolate Pairings | Cabot Creamery

Tasting Chocolate | Ghirardelli

How to Pair Flavors, According to Science |Tasting Table

Cheese Pairing with Chocolate: a Winning Combination | The Wisconsin Cheeseman

How to Pair Chocolate with Cheese | wikiHow

Going Rogue: Oregon Cheese Makes a Big Statement

Type the words “American cheese” into an online search engine, and the images that pop up typically appear more utilitarian than artisanal or gourmet. Perhaps that’s one reason why it came as a shock to some around the globe that an American cheese defied convention and brought home the title of “best in the world” at the 2019 World Cheese Awards for the first time in history. It was a statement win.

Based in Southern Oregon, Rogue Creamery proved what many Oregonians and cheese aficionados already knew – Oregon creameries make some truly extraordinary cheese. At the awards held in Bergamo, Italy, Rogue River Blue beat out more than 3,800 cheeses from 42 countries. After a photo finish with an Italian Parmigiano Reggiano, Oregon officially became home to the World Champion.

According to Rogue, the winning cheese embodies their signature terroir with flavors of sweet pine, wild ripened berries, hazelnuts, morels and pears:

“Rogue River Blue is an organic, cave-aged blue cheese that is wrapped in Syrah grape leaves that are soaked in pear spirits. It is made exclusively with milk from Rogue Creamery’s certified organic dairy farm in Grants Pass, where the cows graze on pastures bordering the Rogue River. A seasonal product, Rogue River Blue is only made for a few months each year beginning on the autumnal equinox, when cooler temperatures bring renewed growth to the pastures and our cow’s milk becomes richer and higher in butterfat.”

Since the big announcement on October 18, people have been taking note. From Martha Stewart to renowned authors, international journalists, chefs, foodies and even fellow cheesemakers – all have been singing Rogue’s praises, as stores are quickly selling out. Many Oregonians are expressing pride in the recognition, including U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, who had some fun with this Tweet:

In addition to Rogue’s top honors, TMK Creamery of Canby brought home a Silver Medal for their Garlic Dill Cheddar Curds, and Tillamook earned a Bronze Medal for their one-year aged White Cheddar. These award-winners and many more creameries are listed on the Oregon Cheese Guild’s Oregon Cheese and Food Trail. While nobody knows where the best cheese in the world will come from in 2020, there are plenty of worthy candidates that make a case for a repeat performance from Oregon.

Of course, great tasting cheese starts with high-quality milk, and Oregon is consistently ranked toward the top in the nation. Oregon’s 124,000 cows and 200 dairy farm families produce roughly 2.6 billion pounds of milk annually (more than 302 million gallons). Oregonians love their milk so much, it is literally the official beverage of the State of Oregon.

Oregon’s dairy industry is a vital economic engine for communities statewide, with an estimated impact of $2.7 billion. Dairy is Oregon’s fourth largest commodity by farm revenue after only cattle, greenhouse and nursery products, and hay. Further, dairy farms create a ripple effect in both the agricultural economy and the economic well-being of rural communities, supporting 12,222 jobs.


RELATED LINKS:

Rogue River Blue Wins World’s BEST cheese!
Oregon Cheese Guild, October 18

USA cheese named ‘Best in the World’
USDEC, October 21

For the first time ever, a US cheese is named best in the world
CNN Travel, November 1

The World’s Best Cheese? It’s Blue and Comes From Oregon
The New York Times, November 1

American cheese named world’s best for first time, here’s how much it costs
Fox Business, November 2

France in shock over Oregon cheese winning ‘Best in the World’ honor
Statesman Journal, November 4

Want to taste the Oregon-made, recently named ‘Best Cheese in the World’? Better hurry.
Statesman Journal, November 6 

This may be the moment American cheese, true American cheese, has been waiting for
Washington Post, November 6

Food for Thought: Would You Eat What Cows Eat?

“Why do we give food to cows that could be used to feed people?”

Through this new video we produced with Oregon dairy farmer Derrick Josi (aka TDF Honest Farming), we’re answering this relatively common question by serving up a full helping of facts about what cows eat.

We’re always working to address confusion and misconceptions about dairy. With more than 400,000 views and counting, the video has started some beneficial and enlightening conversations on social media about food byproducts, ruminant digestion, animal nutrition, crop rotation, marginal agricultural land and more.

If you haven’t seen it yet, watch the video, and you’ll see it provides some good food for thought.

Much of cow feed is actually comprised of byproducts from producing food for humans. We can’t digest some of the food that ruminants like cows can. They upcycle feed that might otherwise go to waste, and they turn it into milk, which makes the dairy products that we enjoy.

Additionally, much of the land where cows are located is not ideal or even viable for other crops. “Two thirds of the world’s agricultural land is marginal, which means it cannot be used to grow crops because the soil is not sufficient or there’s not enough water,” says Dr. Frank Mitloehner, Department of Animal Science at the University of California, Davis. “We have to use that land for ruminant livestock, because it’s the only way to use it.”

Watch for upcoming videos addressing some other questions and misconceptions about dairy. If you’d like us to tackle one of your questions, just let us know!


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