Well, I'm back. And I'm gonna take it slow.
One place I have decidedly NOT been absent is Facebook. Oh, how I love to hate Facebook. And yet, in this season of early bedtimes and limited adult contact, it's my lifeline. Checking up on people, following conversations, trying to offer encouragement. And the groups! I love all the little niche interest groups I'm part of. In fact, that's really probably the most useful thing that Facebook offers me. Nashville Natural Parents, The Young Clergy Women Project, East Nashville, and more. But my favorite is Real Food Nashville. It's a community of people who are dedicated to sharing resources and information in helping more people find more real food.
One thing that folks do frequently on Real Food Nashville is organize group buys. These are like little ad hoc co-ops that spring up around one product. So I've been in a group buy for grass-fed gelatin. Or one for coconut oil. That kind of stuff. It's where I found my half of a grass-fed steer last winter (so much more to tell you about that! Best purchase EVER). I bought some superior satsumas and Meyer lemons last winter from a farm in Chickamauga through RFN. And now, a couple of times, I've bought the most amazing raw grass-fed cheese I've ever encountered in my life.
So what makes this cheese so fabulous?
It's raw. The milk that goes into this cheese is never heated past about 100 degrees F. If you go beyond that point, you begin to denature the milk and break down the naturally occurring enzymes that help make it easier to digest and better for your body.
It's grassfed. Cows that feed on grass make milk that is superior. Grassfed dairy is higher in a host of vital nutrients than grainfed dairy. This article is a great starting point for why grassfed dairy is the way to go!
It's not that expensive. Now, don't me wrong. This is more costly than the Kroger brand sharp cheddar I sometimes pick up. But consider this: "raw" cheese (which is usually heated past the point that allows enzymatic activity) at Whole Foods is typically like $20/lb. These big beauties were $7/lb.
It's ordered farm-direct. No middle man. Minimal shipping cost. More money straight to the farmer.
It's delicious. When we did our first order back in April, I was a little wary about ordering five pounds of cheese at a time, knowing that cheese doesn't freeze well. Our family is not huge and it seemed like an awfully large amount of cheese. Well, I can confidently say that we breezed through that block of cheese in weeks. My kids begged for it.
So - if this sounds appealing to you, think about starting this kind of group buy in your area! Get to know the farmers that are near you. Find good prices. Talk to them about their practices. And then support them. This has a been a huge part of my philosophy of getting out of the grocery store. As much as I can, I buy what I need from farmers or in bulk, and then make the rest.
One of the reasons I stayed away from the blog for so long is that I began to feel that I was way out of the mainstream. Like I'm describing a lifestyle or diet that sounds not only unattainable for some people, but frankly unattractive or just too much work. I hope that's not the way this comes off. Hell, I ate a Taco Bell burrito for dinner on Wednesday.
80/20, baby. 80/20.