News, Cheese

Batten down the hatches: an ethical artisan cheese store

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Facing the cost-of-living crisis in 2023 

As we batten down the hatches to help us better weather the increased costs of living, it is clear that many households are now more than ever being careful with spending, especially when it comes to food. With inflation more than doubling during 2022, UK households are having to tighten their belts in order to deal with the oncoming storm that this cost of living crisis is likely to bring.

Whilst UK citizens are reducing their costs wherever possible, artisan cheese stores like No2 Pound Street are changing and amending how they work to continue to support their customers and be sustainable, ethical, and economical suppliers.

In this blog, we look at how big brand cheese suppliers are doing less and less to support ethical suppliers of artisan cheese and, subsequently, the customers who enjoy this cheese the most.

Big-brand cheeses are letting the side down 

Whenever we go into a supermarket to do our weekly or monthly shopping, we are often faced with at least one aisle of industrial cheese – and that’s not including the cheese counter at the back of the store.  The sadly standardised and industrial cheese that aligns the supermarket shelves generally costs far less than those specialist cheeses made by hand on a farm or small artisan unit. However, there is a massive quality difference and one that needs to be shouted from the rooftops.

Certain unnamed producers of supermarket cheeses generally buy huge amounts of milk from hundreds of farms and also often buy milk from continental Europe. All of the milk is then pooled into massive, closed vats with pre-determined cultures. This is conveyer belt production that, quite frankly, gets under the skin of most (if not all) artisan cheese. Sadly, this is where the majority of cheese sales fall and are still considered the Holy Grail by the masses. The decision to buy this type of cheese is, at this point, based on price, a good-looking brand that is well advertised and often through television.

However, what those big brand cheeses don’t do is talk about how ethical, sustainable, and economically viable their method of mass production really is. Imagine the demand on one of those dairy farmers supplying them with milk. What impact does this have on the poor livestock? Have you also considered how much water and energy are needed to facilitate the production of industrial cheeses, often making over 60 tons a day?

Did you know that hydrogen sulphide is a by-product of the breakdown of organic waste, and this is potentially lethal when inhaled? There are so many examples of how industrial dairy producers fail in the proper management of waste. This method of production is a massive contributor to environmental sustainability and clearly needs more stringent guidelines from our government. When next in Cornwall, breathe deeply, and if you smell rotten eggs, beware… would you not prefer to smell the beautiful fresh country air that we are all so wanting back?

Giving our customers the added value they deserve

Something that No2 Pound Street is now doing is investing time with artisan cheesemakers and buying cheese that is both cost-effective for the business and also for our lovely customers. Artisan cheesemakers (as we have said before) often employ the same number of staff as industrial. This means that they have a lot more to pay out and are left with a far smaller net profit. Most artisan producers that we deal with are happy with subsistence, as are the majority of people that are truly passionate about what they do.

The number of cheeses that we hold at No2 is significant. We can guarantee there is something for everyone. We have an excellent mature cheddar, for example, and a good soft mould-ripened cheese that is a staple for many of our regulars. The difference and a key selling point between industrial and cheaper offerings is taste. This is where artisan wins, hands down.

James remembers his Mum using up to 400g of supermarket extra farmhouse holy grail vintage to mix with her bechamel for the cauliflower cheese to be served with Sunday lunch. Today he uses possibly 150g and a sprinkle on top of Teifi Mature or Keens Mature, or a mixture of both. Consequently, a Sunday lunch at James’ is exceptionally tasty, with a much smaller amount of cheese needed to make probably the most important family meal of the week. His Mum’s cauliflower cheese was great, but, he explains, there really wasn’t the need for so much cheese had it been artisan.

When you put value for money and the value of a product together, artisan wins hands down. You only need to use small amounts, to begin with, also you can rest easy as the production methods are second to none and it is better for the environment. Buy entrance-level artisan cheese and see how they compare; generally, these will be younger age profile cheeses, but they have a far better and long-lasting taste.

This may also interest you: 

Cheese wholesalers’ foundations are based on ethics and sustainability – is that you?

No2’s cheese takeaway platter for six

Take a peek at our soft cheese selection

Shop ethically with your local artisan cheese store

If you’re looking for a way to support local businesses, shop ethically, and indulge in delicious artisan cheese, then look no further than the local artisan cheese store, No2 Pound Street. With a wide variety of locally sourced cheese from top-notch cheese makers, No2 Pound Street is the perfect place to satisfy your cheese cravings while also supporting small businesses and sustainable practices. Pay us a visit to our Wendover store, or order your products online through our website.