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The Life of CheeseCrafting Food and Value in America$
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Heather Paxson

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780520270176

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520270176.001.0001

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Ecologies of Production

Ecologies of Production

(p.30) 2 Ecologies of Production
The Life of Cheese

Heather Paxson

University of California Press

“Ecologies of Production” draws from ethnographic fieldwork conducted on a sheep dairy farm to detail what goes into producing cheese and to analyze how cheesemakers draw meaning from that labor. The cheesemakers at Vermont Shepherd have a farm-based ecology of production includes the pasture grasses, sheep, and microorganisms that contribute to the development of the cheese and its sensory qualities. In telling and selling a story of how cheese is made, cheesemakers depict livestock and microorganisms as sorts of co-laborers, a move that reflects an appreciation for their animals and the organic agencies of fermentation and cheese ripening. However, which particular properties of farm-based production should be considered as value-enhancing is a matter of debate carried out over the meaning of “farmstead” cheese.

Keywords:   ecology, making cheese, dairy farming, labor, livestock, multispecies ethnography, marketing

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