Monday, March 30, 2009

Cheese Wars

I receive the Culinary History Enthusiasts of Wisconsin (CHEW) email newsletter and they had a little piece on upcoming food based movies included in this year's Wisconsin Film Festival. One is a short film called "Cheese Wars," a documentary on the battle between California and Wisconsin for cheese production dominance.

One might think, "Isn't it the more cheese the merrier? Why does it have to be a war?"

Because California started it.

If their marketers had left well enough alone and not forced upon the nation the campaign known as "happy cows" perhaps we all could have been friends.

Instead, I feel a certain sadistic satisfaction in pointing out that when Wheat Thins came up with a new cheese snack, California cheese flavor was significantly absent.

More info about Cheese Wars and the Wisconsin Film Fest

Blog post on Cheese Underground.

And just for fun, I found this clip of some cows in Wisconsin. See how horrible the weather is? Now I'm not saying that there aren't factory farms in WI, and I'm not saying it doesn't get cold, but you don't see Wisconsin implementing a campaign about how cows in California are going to fall into the ocean when the San Andras give way, do you?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Words to chew on

One of the first problems with marketing goat milk, goat cheese or goat meat in this country is that there are no good names for those products. We don't call it cow milk or cow cheese (the former is getting a little more play than the latter as of late I would think...) One thing that really bugs me is when a legitimate food magazine will tell someone to use goat cheese in a recipe. There's such a huge array of goat cheese that's almost insulting! You wouldn't tell someone who's making a salad to top it with bits of "cow cheese" would you?

When we do find names for these items, many times they are in other languages and thus are difficult to pronounce. Examples include:
Cabrito - Spanish (Mexico) - young roast goat
Chivito -" - young roast goat, slightly older than cabrito
Chevon - French - another term for goat meat
Chevre - French - means 'goat' - is used in reference to cheese

I've heard this last word pronounced from "Shev" to "shev-ray" to "shevruh." Needless to say, not a word that easily rolls of the tongue for most people in the US. I guess I prefer the idea of refering to cheese first by it's name (cheddar, feta, Humbolt fog) and then by what it is made of (a goat milk cheese, made of a blend of cow and goat milk).

Contemplating the mountain goat...

The mountain goat-goat in name only? I'm trying to remember taxonomy...mnemonic device is Kids Prefer Candy Over Fresh Green Salad (or Kinky People Come Over For Group Sex if you'd rather):

kingdom= Animalia
phylum= Chordata
class= Mammalia
order= Artiodactyla
family= Bovidae
genus= Oreamnos
species= Oreamnos americanus

Domestic Goat:
kingdom= Animalia
phylum= Chordata
class= Mammalia
order= Artiodactyla
family= Bovidae
genus= Capra
species= C. aegagrus

So technically they only share the same classification up to being in the same family as about 140 species of cloven-hoofed mammals. That includes cows, antelope and sheep. However the Mountain Goat is the only member of its genus and species (there was another in prehistoric times.) That, teamed with the fact that it has "goat" in its name makes me think that we can adopt it into Capra when necessary.

Mountain goats are native to North America. Mountain goats are the largest mammals found in their high-altitude habitats, which reach elevations of up to 13,000 feet or more. The have horns, short tails (like capra), and eat both grasses and shrubs (plus moss, lichen and I would guess, whatever they can find at that altitude.)

By the way, there are some very cool wild goats in the genus Capra, including the ibux, tur and the markhor.

Monday, March 16, 2009

RE: new tourism logo and slogan here in Wisconsin

A little off topic: Our Governor just spoke in La Crosse WI at the Conference on Tourism and unveiled the new "Live Like You Mean It." logo and motto that will grace brochures, websites and ads for the next few years at least.

I see that this slogan will be used not only for tourism, but for business and other state programs. And I understand the want of the Governor to call on all residents to support this as a way to prove we are "fiercely proud, hard working, loyal and have fun with life; and where the culture fuels creativity and embraces original thinking." The idea behind the branding of Wisconsin is to ''emphasize Wisconsin's creativity, hospitality and unique destinations under the platform, "In Wisconsin, originality rules."" And the logo and slogan support this.

As a marketing person, I understand all this. And I understand the great burden of coming up with something that can be used by Universities, cheese makers and bed and breakfast owners alike. But, in the same breath, what the Tourism Department and the PR agency Red Brown Kle came up with is still kinda... square (as is the whole Wisconsin Department of Tourism website in fact.) Wisconsin strikes me as more of a thoughtful, philosophical-yet-determined state, and I don't know if that really comes through. Still, we'll see how it goes. It would be nice to get this state some much deserved attention outside of the crazy teen sex scandals that have been appearing lately. There is a depth of interesting things happening here, there's a quirky humor to the place, and the sheer beauty of the rivers and Great Lakes, rolling hills and fields, the balance of the four seasons and the respect people have here for there history gives Wisconsin a real identity that I guess you just have to experience.

Just some info on Wisconsin's goat industry

Okay - apologies for being biased towards my home state, but I just did some searching regarding goat production and support here in the Dairy State.

Here is a link to the Wisconsin Dairy Goat Association. Although they have dairy in the title, they are in support of anyone who is interested in goats: The main page is very friendly and chatty. Some plans they have for this coming year include increasing membership, increasing attendance at their show in May, a doe and kid auction and working on their website to perhaps list results from shows. Lots of good info here.

I found out that Wisconsin has more dairy goats than any other state. It also is working hard to polish its reputation (a line stolen from this article on the opening of a goat cheese plant in Lancaster WI) as a state that supports the production of gourmet and craft cheeses. "Wisconsin cheeses won fully a third of all the medals in the recent World Championship Cheese Contest."

I also found this PDF overview document of the Wisconsin Dairy Goat Industry from 2006 . There was a recent ag survey done that had a very small amount of info about goats in WI but a little info is better than none!

The American Goat Federation (AGF)

Please support the idea to unify the goat industry in the US. There is so much potential if only the structure existed to join all people of similar pursuits. Industry associations have baggage, but they also help to unify many people behind one voice. The world is so complex that, when you may only have three minutes to address congress on some sort of legislation that affects your industry, it helps to have a respected and trusted name to get behind.

American Sheep Industry Association - founded 1865
National Cattlemen's Foundation - organized 1972
US Goat Council - ?

Friday, March 6, 2009

Goat Blogs-not about actual goats


I have been searching for other people blogging about goats. That is, the livestock animal, its wild kin, and said animals' place in history, literature, pop culture etc.

However - many blogs with "goat" in the title aren't about goats at all. Here is what I have found: = A pretty fun blog not about goats, but about gear for people traveling back country (back packing, off roading etc.) Everyone who contributes has goat in their names! But it's just a funny food blog. = Not about goats. A news blog about topics that effect the Western US. = A CA winery website. Named after the donkeys in France and their goat companions.

I was able to find the following: = A blog started by Baby Belle, a Nigerian Dwarf in 2005. Still going strong! It is kidding season and so Belle has lots to talk about. = A blog started in 2006 by Susan Schoenian, Sheep & Goat Specialist for University of Maryland Cooperative Extension. Good info, but a lot of sheep. = Based in VA, a very nice site about boer goats with lots of links. Very cute blog with lots of pics of a farm in Kansas. = An eclectic anyone-can-post blog that's rather hard to navigate. One post was about snail control by goats! = blog about Kinder goats-cross between Nubian and Pygmy goats. Unfortunately hasn't been updated since 9/2008.