Guide to American Cheese Organizations and Competitions

Wisconsin Cheese Makers Associa­tion/ World Championship Cheese Contest

The 115-year-old trade organization has hosted the biannual World Championship Cheese Contest since 1957. The 2006 competition broke records with 1,795 entries from 18 countries. The 2008 version will add 28 new judging categories to the current 51 to recognize the proliferation of specialty and artisan cheeses. Cheeses are judged strictly by technical standards. www.wischeesemakersassn.org.

The American Cheese Society/Annual Competition

The American Cheese Society was founded in 1983 and includes approximately 1,200 members from the U.S., Canada, and Europe. It hosts an annual conference, festival, and cheese competition. There were 1,400 entries in the September 2007 competition, judged by both technical and aesthetic standards. (Texas artisanal cheeses were well-represented; Austin's own Pure Luck Farm and Dairy walked away with two firsts and a third-place award.) www.cheesesociety.org.

Cheese of Choice Coalition

Jointly founded by the American Cheese Society and the Oldways Preservation and Exchange Trust, this coalition works with U.S. government agencies like the Food and Drug Administration to preserve the production and sale of raw-milk cheeses within the U.S. as well as importation of raw-milk cheeses from around the world.

Farmstead Cheese Coalition

Founded by Slow Food (www.slowfood.com) and the American Cheese Society to preserve the heritage and production of cheeses by cheese-makers who raise and milk their own herds or flocks and produce their cheeses on the farm where the animals live.

Raw Milk Cheesemakers' Association

Slow Food has created a Raw Milk Cheese Presidium and the Raw Milk Cheesemakers' Association that works with the FDA to support current standards around the 60-day aging standard for cheese. It encourages raw-milk cheese producers to make humane, socially and environmentally responsible, high-quality raw-milk cheese (produced from milk that, prior to setting the curd, has not been heated above the temperature of the milk at the time of milking). www.rawmilkcheese.org.

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