Rogue Creamery,a small Southern Oregon artisan creamery internationally known for its award-winning handcraftedcheeses, is taking home a new recognition during June Dairy Month, by receiving the U.S. Dairy Sustainability Award for Outstanding Dairy Processing and Manufacturing.
In October 2019, Rogue Creamery was rewarded for its high standards as the first-ever American cheesemaker to be named Grand Champion at the World Cheese Awards. But owner David Gremmels’ commitment to excellence extends far beyond cheesemaking to business practices that create a culture around doing the right thing.
“The food industry is a challenging environment with an ever-changing landscape. It takes passion, energy, awareness of food safety and a high level of professional business skills to understand, create and adapt,” said Cathy Strange, Vice President of Specialty, Product Development and Innovation at Whole Foods Market. “My experiences with Rogue Creamery and their owners and employees is that they are committed to represent themselves, the dairy community and United States artisan cheesemakers at the highest level.”
The sustainability awards program is managed by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, which was established under the leadership of dairy farmers and dairy companies. For 10 years, award recipients have been recognized for their commitment to dairy sustainability with nearly 80 winners and from more than 270 nominees.
Rogue Creamery became Oregon’s first certified B Corporation in 2014, inspiring other like-minded businesses to follow suit and pursue this rigorous certification. And since 2017, it has consistently ranked in the top 10% of B Corps worldwide for its impact on people and planet. This recognition affirms Rogue Creamery as a force for good—balancing purpose with profit and considering the broader, community-wide impact of every business decision.
As a leading proponent of renewable energy and waste reduction, Rogue Creamery has installed solar panels, reduced packaging waste, and created an employee commuter program. And, through team volunteer days, giving campaigns, sponsorships and food drives, Rogue Creamery advances core goals, which include alleviating hunger, increasing access to education, and building awareness about sustainable agriculture. Its “Cheese is Love” campaign has resulted in more than 3,500 pounds of cheese donations for those who have been impacted by fires that ravaged Southern Oregon in September 2020.
“Oregon’s dairy community has long embraced the importance of sustainability,” said Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council’s Executive Director, Pete Kent. “Dairy farms, co-ops and companies recognize that their businesses can be used to exemplify sustainable choices. We are proud to have Rogue Creamery represent Oregon on the national stage this year as a standard for these efforts.”
This small creamery’s commitment to quality, sustainability and doing the right thing has substantial, sustainable impacts within its local community and beyond – enlightening partners, neighbors, and customers worldwide.
You can’t go wrong with flowers… especially if they’re mixed with Salt n Straw’s delicious ice cream! Their Eat Your Flowers Pint Series ships across the US and features the vivid and aromatic tastes of Jasmine, Hibiscus and Wildflower.
On that note, jewels don’t hurt either. Try the in-store Jewels and Gems Menu at Ruby Jewel and treat your Mom to specially made indulgent ice cream sandwiches with decadent flavor combinations like Strawberry Rhubarb and Malted Milk.
The best gift of all? Time with your Mom. However you spend this Mother’s Day, by Zoom, phone or in-person, we hope it’s filled with delicious memories!
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.
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.
Looking for that last-minute gift for the dairy lover on your list? Check out these inspired ideas from local dairy makers across Oregon!
Know a quarantined ice cream lover who’s looking for a more immersive experience? Transport them to one of Salt and Straw’s famed shops with A Whiff of Wafflecone, Salt and Straw’s new fragrance with Portland perfumery Imaginary Authors. Notes of vanilla, heavy cream, and salted caramel will carry them away to ice cream heaven without the wait!
Temperatures are dropping, but these curds are popping! Face Rock Creamery has the spicy cheese lover on your list covered. Try giving one of their Creamery Curd Samplers, which includes their spicy “In Your Face” three-pepper curds and ever-popular Vampire Slayer garlic curds.
If you’re looking for something that’s truly world class, try a wheel or slice of Rogue Creamery’s award-winning Rogue River Blue cheese, grand champion of the 2019-2020 World Cheese Awards. Each wheel is hand-wrapped in organic, biodynamic Syrah grape leaves that are soaked in pear spirits made from locally harvested fruit.
Trying to find the perfect gift for that person who has everything? We’ve been there. If you’re looking for something unique, try TMK Creamery’s single cow cheddar cheese. The only cheese in the world made from a single cow! And when that cow is Miss TMK herself, well… let’s just say sometimes it’s good to buy a gift for yourself too!
While you’re celebrating the holidays in these next couple of weeks, remember there are plenty of great, locally-produced seasonal ice creams, eggnog, flavored coffee drinks, and artisanal cheeses to enjoy.
And if you’re cooking or baking something special, don’t forget to stock up on ingredients like butter, cream, and of course milk to go with the cookies for Santa.
All the best to you and yours, and have a very dairy new year!
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!
This month marks the one-year anniversary of an Oregon success story that made national and international news.
On October 18, 2019, Rogue Creamery from Central Point, Oregon, earned the title of “best cheese in the world” for their Rogue River Blue Cheese at the World Cheese Awards in Bergamo, Italy. It was the first time in the history of the competition that an American cheese was selected as grand champion.
Similar to the “Judgement of Paris” in 1976, when American wines triumphed over the best French vintners in a blind taste test, this was a statement win and a landmark moment for American artisanal and farmstead cheeses.
The U.S. Dairy Export Council President, Tom Vilsack said, “This is more than a win for Rogue Creamery of Central Point, Oregon, The ‘Best Cheese’ title creates a halo effect that will cause global customers to look at all U.S. cheeses in a brighter light.”
This was no small feat. An international panel of 260 judges selected Rogue River Blue out of more than 3,800 cheeses from 42 countries.
The judges experienced the signature Rogue Valley terroir captured within each taste of the organic, cave-aged blue cheese wrapped in Syrah grape leaves soaked in pear spirits, with flavors of sweet pine, wild ripened berries, hazelnuts, morels and pears. It earned their high praise and respect.
This special cheese is the product of many years of hard work and refinement by President David Gremmels with support from his dedicated team at Rogue Creamery and their organic herd of Brown Swiss and Holstein cows. Rogue Creamery is a certified B-Corporation that serves as a model for sustainability in dairy, committed to leaving a positive impact on people, animals, and the planet.
“I am humbled and filled with gratitude. This is the greatest distinction a cheese can receive,” said Rogue Creamery President, David Gremmels. “What extraordinary validation of our commitment to quality, of the place that inspires our cheese – Southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley – and of the excellence of the growing American artisan cheese industry.”
Since the 2020 World Cheese Awards were postponed to 2021, Rogue River Blue will have the rare distinction of continuing its reign as “best in the world” for two years running.
This is just one example of Oregon’s dairy producers and processors who bring our state’s great agricultural bounty to our tables.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 Creameryof 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.
How do you create a new food trail that showcases the top ice cream shops across an entire state? Simple. Ask the experts! And that’s just what the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council did when they crowdsourced the new Oregon Ice Cream Trail.
Crowdsourcing is the process of enlisting the services of a large number of people, typically via the Internet. In this case, it was ice cream aficionados. Starting with an assortment of 10 landmark ice cream shops, people were encouraged to submit and vote for their favorite shops in Oregon. The result? You can now choose your own ice cream adventure to include more than 50 stops clustered within seven geographic regions.
“Building this trail reaffirmed something we already knew – people are passionate about their ice cream,” said Josh Thomas, Senior Director of Communications for the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council. “Thanks to the hundreds of votes we received, this trail showcases the top shops and some of the best ice cream you’ll find anywhere in the world.”
The Oregon Ice Cream Trail includes all varieties of scoop and soft serve ice cream, custard, gelato and even frozen yogurt – all made in Oregon. All stops are featured on a free, downloadable map at OregonIceCreamTrail.com.
So that’s the scoop on the Oregon Ice Cream Trail. If you’re still looking for a good excuse to hit the trail, National Ice Cream Cone Day is coming up on September 22.