Cheese Lovers Newsletter (3.20.2021): Land O'Lakes set the standard
We’re coming to you a day early as we are again running the cheese delivery a day early. Orders are due by Sunday (tomorrow) midnight for a route that makes a boomerang from Brooten to Minneapolis (and the greater west Metro), Mankato, New Ulm, Marshall, Windom, Worthington and Sioux Falls.
It looks like a beautiful weekend, and we’re excited to welcome people on the farm for our outdoor tours, as well as cheese shop browsing.
Padua Parade is a blast!
In a little bit of return to normalcy, we entered the Padua St. Patrick’s Day parade with the easiest float we’ve ever created – our cheese van! The beer was green and the beef was corned. Thanks to the crowd that came out and supported Padua Pub owners Dave and Clara and the eight parade floats that helped make the fun happen. Green cheese curds were enjoyed by many.
Copper Trail Brewing Company Pop-Up – Today!
From Noon to 2 p.m. today, Linda will be at Copper Trail Brewing Company with some cheese. It is too late to pre-order, but stop by and grab your cheesy needs if you’re in Alexandria, today.
Deliveries ahead: Tuesday this week –
Farm tours every Friday and Saturday at 12:30 p.m. from here forward
Open Noon to 2:30 p.m. … come meet our new panini maker
Next week, order by Midnight Sunday, and we’ll make cheese curds Monday for TUESDAY delivery to the Twin Cities – 169 to Mankato, and west to Marshall, Worthington and Sioux Falls. We’ll service the entire West Metro as seen on the map below.
East Metro (east of 35W) delivery is available April 7
Shipments: Ship via UPS ordering by Tuesday noon for Wednesday shipment
Grill or Be Grilled Cheese Boxes
One of the only good things about COVID is we’ve expanded our minds through our virtual learning, and our Grill or Be Grilled event is one benefit. If we were having this in person, we would have sold out by now. We will need to stop at some point, but for now we can probably double our current attendance.
We’ve seen the grills – here’s the beef: WE’VE LOWERED PRICES
It’s summertime. Without further ado, we’ve lowered our burger and patty prices to make room for the next harvest. Grab them now for just $4.50 per pound hamburger and $5.50 per pound for a two-pack of patties ($11)! If you’ve got an order currently on the way, we’ll refund you!
Curd Fest 2021 - Saturday, June 19
We are assembling our team and soliciting our vendors. Save the date!
Question of the Week: Who started the first Minnesota Creamery?
Answer, part 2: How Land O’Lakes brought us consistent butter 100 years ago (with a hat tip to First District Association of Litchfield).
We continue our efforts to answer this question with a short version of a much longer story you can read in the book Men to Remember: How 100,000 Neighbors Made History. It is available on Amazon for $3.99, but I got mine for like $2 online several years ago. Inflation, I guess. This book was actually produced by Land O’Lakes for their 25th anniversary.
The story intersects the beginnings of the cooperative movement, modern agriculture, dairy technology, bailing out the federal government and – ultimately – Minnesota creamery history.
Land O’Lakes was founded in June/July 1921. Before that, there were creameries throughout Minnesota, specializing in butter or cheese. Some of them were making good product, some not so much. In many cases, they were an afterthought at first. Farmers worked hard all day through all types of weather lacking the amenities of today to get livestock fed, crops harvested and cows milked. Then, after that work was done, they brought their milk somewhere by horse or oxen-drawn cart. Sometimes it was a middleman milk aggregator, who may or may not be in the farmers’ bests interest. Other times, farmers worked together to make a cooperative creamery.
The revolution of Land O’Lakes comes in large part to a dairy farmer named John Brandt. John lived in Meeker county, where there were 17 creameries he organized to work together. Brandt really helped instill quality, teaching his competitors how to make better butter. Eventually, these 17 creameries band together as the “First District” of Land O’Lakes – originally the Minnesota Cooperative Creamery Association. Through a contest that offered $500 worth of gold, $7,690 today, two people entered “Land O’Lakes” and split the name for the company.
Land O’Lakes’ reputation was built on good butter. Brandt installed a grading system whereas the farmers sold all their butter, but only the top 7% made it into the Land O’Lakes brand. Farmers were paid a premium for this, to incentivize better quality everywhere. But with the different grades of butter, they could market at different prices for different uses.
You’ll need to read the entire book – the first half is pretty interesting and in our opinion should be required Minnesota high school reading… but we may be biased. 😊 You'll also learn how Land O'Lakes bailed out the federal government by printing its own money during the Great Depression - essentially the beginning of today's farm programs.
The end of the story is still being written. First District Association of Litchfield maintained its independence from Land O’Lakes and is the largest single creamery location in Minnesota, with over 500 farmers as member-owners. This is their 100th anniversary, and by chance they will move into a brand new cheese plant – across the parking lot from their current one – right in downtown Litchfield.
We ship 90% of our Jer-Lindy Farms milk – the milk that doesn’t go to Redhead Creamery – to Bongard’s Premium Cheese. Our plant is in Perham, but thanks to the ingenuity of farmers, we trade paper and it never makes it that far, being paid for our quality. So, our milk typically goes to Melrose, or occasionally Paynesville, two much closer cheese plants. Bongard’s further processes in Bongards, Minnesota, and Humboldt, Tennessee – it is owned by us and a couple hundred other Minnesota dairy farms.
Both First District and Bongards are known for fantastic cheeses which are sold throughout the world under a number of brand names, but also very high quality whey – this whey goes to a number of uses, from infant formula to candy to the whey powder you see in stores. Just 25 years ago it was often a waste product. Today, it’s a vital part to dairy farm and dairy plant profitability. Until next week, that’s our history lesson!
John Brandt’s dedication story to the Litchfield High School hall of fame –
Though he finished only one year of high school, John Brandt’s contributions to the Litchfield school system and greater Litchfield community, have been far reaching.
Brandt was born in Forest City Township in 1886 and rose from humble beginnings to become president of Land O’Lakes. He finished one year of high school, because after his mother died he had to go to work on the family farm. His skills were evident at an early age, and he became known as one of the best farmers in Meeker County at the time, and also was recognized as the best thresher in the county.
Brandt began working actively in the cooperative movement in 1908. Just 22 years old, Brandt found it a calling that would dominate much of his life. He worked with farmers in the Litchfield area to establish a livestock shipping association, one of the first in the country, and he was elected president of the Litchfield Cooperative. He was reelected president of the cooperative in 1920, and also elected to the newly formed Meeker County Cooperative Creamery Association.
Brandt was instrumental in organizing the Minnesota Cooperative Creamery Association. Under his leadership, the Litchfield Cooperative Creamery was the first to join the Minnesota Cooperative Creamery Association, and it became known as First District. The association improved the image and quality of dairy products and also improved shipping and sales of Minnesota products, namely butter. The association also arranged the cooperative purchase of supplies at a lower cost.
The creamery association chose Brandt as its president in 1923, and in 1924 the association took the name Land O’Lakes. As president and general manager of Land O’ Lakes, Brandt oversaw the association’s rise in prominence.
He died March 4, 1953, shortly after delivering a speech to members of the cooperative creamery in Middle River, Minnesota.
After his death, Land O’ Lakes established the John Brandt Memorial Foundation, which grants fellowships for graduate study in dairy throughout the Upper Midwest. The Brandt Foundation has awarded scholarships to students who have gone into areas related to dairy and dairy foods research, teaching and agriculture extension work.
Last: Azro P. McKinstry – Minnesota’s first creameryman
Next: The UMN Gouda Project of the 1970s, and lessons learned
Fourth: Minnesota Artisan Cheese: a new renaissance
Fifth: How Minnesota made America’s blues!