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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 kitchen cheesemakers. Want Milk? (cheese, butter, yogurt, ice cream, kefir?) We can help you find dairy sources, including local cheesemakers, bottlers and other small-scale dairy processors.

smalldairy.com needs your help!

This web site is maintained as a labor of love for the community of dairy artisans that I worked with so closely during my years as the Hometown Creamery Revival project coordinator, publisher of CreamLine and Home Dairy News, and artisan cheesemaker at Ladybug MicroCreamery.  Though I’ve moved on to other pursuits, I’ve continued this web site as a service in my (ha-ha) spare time.  This year the site will be changing again as it moves to another venue that offers a better web presence on mobile devices.   For a long time, book and newsletter sales covered the expenses of web site hosting and maintenance but, as the stock of dairy books has dwindled and the newsletters have publication dates receding into history, this is no longer true.  Now that the elections are over and most of our favorite nonprofits have stopped begging for end-of-year donations, I’m hoping some of the site’s visitors will be willing to make small donations to help cover smalldairy.com’s expenses.  Every little bit helps!