What is Artisanal Processing?
Artisanal processing refers to making a value-added product from a raw agricultural material, in this
case MILK, using traditional, usually labor-intensive, hands-on practices. In the old days lots of
farmers' wives made butter and cheese for sale to their neighbors. But over the years farms have
given up these direct sales, mostly because of increased regulation, and now most sell only raw
milk to big dairy cooperatives, which ship the milk thousands of miles and subject the milk to
nutrient-depleting processing methods. What farmers get paid for raw milk sometimes doesn't even
cover their costs, while processors rake in big bucks on "value-added" products that consist of
over-processed milk, further corrupted by a variety of chemicals, artificial flavors, colors, packaging
and other treatments.
Small dairy farms are on the edge, being pushed out by large farms that are producing too much
milk, which causes prices paid to the farmers to go down, though retail prices rise due to fancy
packaging, greedy management and profit-hungry investors. Making dairy products on the farm
gives the mom-and-pop operation a chance to recapture some of the profits ordinarily lost to
middlemen, while offering consumers a closer link to the source of their dairy foods and, in most
cases, more wholesome products. Thanks to an increasing sophistication about wholesome foods
and local production, the farmstead and artisan dairy movement is growing rapidly in the U.S.
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Got Milk? smalldairy.com has
resources you can use!
Established in 1998 to assist
small commercial dairies in
finding information about on-
farm and artisanal processing,
this site now also serves
homesteaders and suburban
Want Milk? (cheese, butter,
yogurt, ice cream, kefir?) We
can help you find dairy sources,
including local cheesemakers,
bottlers and other small-scale
The featured book for March is The Cheeses and Wines
of England and France: With Notes on Irish Whiskey, by
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every budding cheesemaker and even those with lots of
experience. Ehle visits cheesemakers in the U.S. and
Europe, often writing about very specific processes and
Take 25% off the regular price ($32) by including the
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More information ...