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Sustainable Arrangements


Photographed by Adam DeTour, Styled by Kendra Smith 

If you’re trying your darndest to keep food waste to a minimum, cheese plates might give you pause. Each cheese comes in its own wrapper, as does each accompaniment, not to mention the environmental impact of production. As dire warnings about rising sea levels and a slowly cooking planet permeate the news, it’s reassuring to know that dairies are among the businesses taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint and re-use as many resources as they can. Cowgirl Creamery of Point Reyes Station, California, is a leader in this field, creating stellar products through sustainable practices. Cowgirl Creamery’s conscious production starts from square one: The milk for all Cowgirl cheeses is sourced from nearby farms that use organic and pasture-raised practices, including Bivalve Dairy and Tresch Family Farms (also a source for Straus Family Creamery). These farms utilize rotational grazing, water conservation methods, and pasture reseeding to ensure they give back as much as they get. Cowgirl also works hard to conserve water during cheese production, which is crucial in drought-prone California. Armed with this knowledge, you can build this irresistible all-Cowgirl cheeseboard with a clear conscience.

1. MT TAM

Milk: Pasteurized Cow’s Milk

+ RAW WALNUTS

Luscious and buttery-smooth with a light mushroom funk, Mt Tam has long been one of Cowgirl’s most popular cheeses, and their first foray into aged cheese. You want to go clean and simple with this pairing, so look to the bulk aisle of your local natural foods store for raw walnuts or pecans. Buying in bulk cuts down on packaging, and you can take it one step further by bringing your own jars or Tupperware to the store.

2. RED HAWK

Milk: Pasteurized Cow’s Milk

+ WE LOVE JAM BLENHEIM APRICOT JAM

The assertive, triple crème paste of Red Hawk announces its intentions at first taste; it’s bold, almost meaty, with an orange rind reminiscent of a West Coast sunset. When paired with this vibrant California-sourced (and endangered) Blenheim apricot jam, the experience is a true taste-of-place moment.

3. HOP ALONG

Milk: Pasteurized Cow’s Milk

+ WOODSTOCK INN BREWERY SPENT GRAIN BEER BREAD

The newest member of the Cowgirl gang, each wheel of silky Hop Along is bathed in organic cider and aged for 45 days. The result is yeasty and subtly sweet, with a milk-chocolate meltability that renders it irresistible. “Spent grain bread has a texture and flavor that matches perfectly with table cheese like the cider-washed Hop Along,” says Maureen Cunnie, Cowgirl’s head cheesemaker. Hop Along plays excellently with this toothsome bread slice-for-slice, but Cowgirl recommends broiling the pairing to kick it to the next level.

4. CLABBERED COTTAGE CHEESE

Milk: Pasteurized Cow’s Milk

+ PULP PANTRY JALAPEÑO LIME CHIPS

“Cowgirl’s Clabbered Cottage Cheese curds are made from skim milk leftover from Mt Tam production, so we get to utilize every bit of our quality milk source,” explains Cunnie. Another California-based company making strides in low-waste snacking is Pulp Pantry, which takes the veggie and fruit pulp left over from juice production and turns it into healthful, crunchy alternatives to potato and tortilla chips.

Margaret Leahy

Margaret Leahy is a Contributing Editor at culture.

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