Turnip rock cheeseTunip Rock Cows

Cheese please….. Foxtail Farm is offering the Turnip Rock Cheese Share to it’s Winter CSA members.

So, who doesn’t like cheese? I guess a few of us are lactose intolerant maybe but we probably still like cheese. Cheddar, blue, feta, Jack, it’s all good and sometimes it can be good for you too.

What do you mean, sometimes? Well, it depends on what the cow that gave the milk that got turned into the cheese was eating. After all, you are NOTHING BUT WHAT YOU EAT! ( that goes for the cow too!). Much of what you eat is made up of universal “building blocks” that your body can take apart and make in to its own construction materials to build bone and muscle, burn up for energy or make into the chemistry that lets you run right. These are proteins, carbs and many of the fats that you will find in any cheese.

The best grilled cheese sandwich in the world is made of French bread with a flavorful cheese that melts well such as Swiss or gruyere. I like to coat the bread with olive oil but butter from a cow works just as well! Cook the sandwich on medium heat so that it slowly browns on both sides. Just before you think it’s done, pull apart the bread and add sauted onions and fresh arugula to the melted cheese…close it up, finish cooking till perfect and pour a nice glass of red wine.

If you were to build a house from scratch, you might have a wood lot for cutting lumber and a clay deposit for making bricks but chances are, you would not have glass for windows or copper for wiring. In a similar way, there are a few essential items that we need for building our bodies that we can not make ourselves from simpler molecules. Some vitamins, amino acids, minerals and essential fatty acids (EFAs) fit into this category. We can’t make them but instead, we need to get them from what we eat. They are essential nutrients.

Cheese on pizza? Well, it think it has to be mozzarella and fresh is best. The most important part of making pizza though is not which cheese, it is how much cheese. It’s all physics, too much cheese and the sauce can’t bubble up through it and interact with the toppings which should be cooking on top of the cheese not steaming under it! If you can’t see sauce though the cheese before you cook it…too much! Same goes for the toppings, too much is NOT just right. Toppings have to be exposed to high heat in order to caramelize, sizzle and develop flavor and a little tomato sauce hitting a sizzling piece of pepperoni…it’s all good.

That essential fat category is the one I want to focus on for the cheese, crumbly, creamy, salty, savory, satisfying cheese, do you remember?

So, you can break down all the fats you eat into three categories. Saturated fats might make up 10% of the fats you eat if you don’t go too nuts on the cheese and bacon. Long blamed for heart disease but recently rehabilitated, saturated fat might not be so bad for you after all so you can eat butter from a cow. Mono-unsaturated fats are most of what you will find in your cooking oils such as olive, canola, corn, soy etc. Other than as, a major source of calories, these fats are thought to be pretty healthy and they form the lion’s share of the fat you eat…say 80%. The final part of your fat-diet, at less than 10%, is poly-unsaturated fats. These fats are the really interesting ones. You can’t make them in your body like you can the saturated and mono unsaturated fats, you have to eat them.

Josh Bryceson and Rama Hoffpauir at Turnip Rock Farm Cosmic Wheel Creamery http://www.turniprock.com make their cheese out of milk from cows that are 100% grass fed or maybe I should say 100% plant fed. All summer long, they graze on pastures and hillsides that have a wide variety of plants that give them all they need and then some. The flavor and color of these plants comes through in the cheese. It has a rich, more yellow color and a much more complex flavor. Many grass fed animals get a fairly limited selection of plants to choose form, mostly grass! The ten Turnip Rock cows get a plant smorgasbord and you can taste it.

Some of what you get in that cheese is poly-unsaturated fat. The two most important types are omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids. Yep, sure you’ve heard of them…take fish oil pills blablabla.. No! Change your diet to make sure you eat enough of each and just as importantly, the right balance between omega 6 and omega 3 fats. You need to eat both types because they are critical to building your body, especially for fatty organs such as you brain, membranes and regulatory compounds that make you work right! Check out this link for a list of 60 important body functions and diseases that omega 3 and 6 fats affect http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/61-health-benefits-omega-3-fatty-acids.

Balance, without it we fall down and fall apart. It’s critically important that your body have the right balance of omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids. Among other things, these fats are used to make a number of compounds that start or stop a cascade of inflammation. In general, omega 6’s start inflammation while omega 3’s stop it (overly simplified of explanation maybe but it gets the point across). You need that inflammation when you have an infection or wound but too much can cause heart disease and sudden heart attacks, allergies, mood disorders…..etc etc. (see the link above). Humans are thought to have evolved on about a 2:1 omega 6 to three ratio and that is what is probably the healthiest now. The problem is that we now get way to many omega 6s because they are the primary poly-unsaturated fat in corn and soy. While we don’t eat that much corn and soy directly, it forms the bottom of the food chain for the industrial food system we rely on. Beef, pork, chicken, milk, eggs, CHEESE all have too much omega 6 fatty acids because they all come from corn and soy and not grass….see where we are going with this?

Remember, you are nothing but what you eat. If a cow eats corn and soy and no grass, that cow will not have any omega 3’s to put in the milk that makes the cheese. We need more omega 3’s and where are they found? In grass! Maybe that’s why grandma could eat two pounds of butter a week and live to 100! The current “American diet” gives us about 15:1 omega 6’s to 3’s and that’s a big problem. We get too much inflammatory and not enough anti-inflammatory. So, eat grass? No, eat cheese made from milk from cow that eat grass! Luckily, because poly-unsaturated fats make up such a small amount of our diets, it is not too difficult to change the ratio of the two kinds to closer to the 2:1 ration that is healthy.

Rema is a Wisconsin licensed cheese maker. She makes cheese that is really good and really healthy for you to eat. The cheese is made in small batches in the inspected dairy and aged in their aging facility. What Rema does not make is cheap cheese similar to what you might find in the local grocery store. Grass fed cows make less milk so the cheese costs more. So, the choice is yours, you can eat cheese based on corn and soy that is actually bad for your health and pay the doctor more in the end or you can eat Turnip Rock, 100% grass fed cheese, pay a bit more, enjoy it a lot more and maybe not end up seeing the doctor so much.

Besides, you’ve never seen a happier cow than one that’s busy munching on grass.
It a big win for all of us.
Turnip rock cheese