Everona Dairy profile; Organic Valley celebrates

Artisan Profile: Everona Dairy

It’s been ten years since Pat Elliott established a professional cheesemaking operation in rural Rapidan, Va., and in that time, the scope of her cheese operation has grown considerably while its character has remained constant.

Now there are new cheeses to sell and a new cheesemaker in the cheese room.

“Carolyn Wentz is my daughter-in-law,” says Elliott, a country doctor who still sees patients but has also become a fixture in the American artisan cheese community.  “She and my son have had a couple of kids and she was ready to go back to work, and she said ‘the only job I want to do is to make cheese.’  She’s a florist by training, and it seems that’s a good background for cheese. She’s very thoughtful about how things go together-colors and flavors and so on.”

In The Atlas of American Artisan Cheese Jeffrey Roberts tells the story of how Elliott began keeping sheep after she fell in love with and bought a pet Border Collie. The dog needed animals to keep it busy, the sheep needed to be milked, and the rest, as they say, is history. 

When she started selling cheese Elliott was milking 15 ewes. She now keeps around 200. For years her award-winning sheepsmilk cheeses including Piedmont, Stony Man and Pride of Baccus were made in a 20-gal vat. Now it’s a 75-gal vat that still gets filled at least twice a day.  All cheeses are made with raw milk from Elliott’s East Fresian sheep. 

“At first I did everything myself, which is a good way to start because then you know how everything needs to be done,” Elliott says, adding that the staff now numbers four fulltime. “Now I’m doing mostly paperwork and marketing, and I take the night shift during lambing season. Getting people to milk is always a big challenge. But with Carolyn on board I can go to ACS and not worry that there is work not getting done.”

Indeed Elliott attended this year’s American Cheese Society Conference in Chicago.

Among the new cheeses that Elliott and Wentz are developing is a soft aged French-style cheese similar to Camembert.

Everona Dairy

• 23246 Clarks Mountain Rd.Rapidan, Va. 22733

• Established 1998

• Visitors by appointment

• 540/854-4159

Sustainability Video Features Dairy Processors

Building on the momentum created by the industry’s recent Sustainability Summit, Dairy Management Inc. has produced a brief video that recaps the summit’s messages and includes clips of several key participants.

IDFA member representatives and staff included in the video are David Crowley, environmental health and safety director, HP Hood LLC; Chip Jones, senior vice president, corporate responsibility and sustainability, Dean Foods Company; and Clay Detlefsen, IDFA vice president of regulatory affairs.

The video, titled “Sustainability: Creating Value through Dairy Innovation,” demonstrates that opportunities for improving and marketing sustainability efforts exist all along the dairy supply chain.

The video can be seen at the members section of www.idfa.org.

Organic Valley Celebrates

More than 7,000 people helped Organic Valley celebrate its 20th anniversary recently at   Midwest’s largest rural heritage, food and farming festival. The fifth-annual Kickapoo Country Fair was held July 26-27 on the grounds of Organic Valley’s  headquarters in La Farge, Wis., set in the ancient and beautiful hills of the Kickapoo River Valley.

The event featured farm tours, sustainability workshops, organic cooking and 20th anniversary special events and guests.

“Each year, our co-op hosts the Kickapoo Country Fair to honor our rural heritage and the spirit of organics,” said George Siemon, CEO for Organic Valley. “This year is especially meaningful because we welcome our neighbors, family farm members and some of the organic industry’s most legendary pioneers to help us celebrate 20 years of providing healthy food for families and a lifeline for organic family farms.”

The Kickapoo keynote speaker was Francis Moore Lappe, noted social change activist and author of 16 books including the bestseller Diet for a Small Planet. 

Organic Valley also recognized its promising young members with the co-op’s first-ever “Generation Organic” (Gen-O) Awards.

Kids' Products Short on Nutrition, Long on Claims

Nine out of ten conventional food items aimed specifically at children have a poor nutritional content-because of high levels of sugar, fat or sodium-according to a detailed study of 367 products published in the July issue of the UK-based journal Obesity Reviews.

Just under 70% of the products studied-which specifically excluded confectionery, soft drinks and bakery items-derived a high proportion of calories from sugar. Approximately one in five (23%) had high fat levels and 17% had high sodium levels. Despite this, 62% of the foods with poor nutritional quality made positive claims about their nutritional value on the front of the packet.

The 367 products included in the study were bought from a national supermarket chain stocking 50,000 food and non-food items in December 2005. Each had to meet very specific criteria.


Dean Foods has partnered with California-based power company Eps Corp. for a co-generation operation at Dean’s located in City of Industry, Calif. The system uses heat from a natural gas furnace to help produce hot water and steam used in the plant, providing a 15 to 40% energy savings. The company has done similar installations at two other Dean plants in other states.

Newsweek ran a story recently outlining tips for buying organic foods while staying within a budget. Tips were designed to help consumers prioritize organic purchases based on frequency of use and relative costs.

Through its Profits for the Planet program, Stonyfield Farm recently helped support Pesticide Action Network North America, which has been advancing alternatives to pesticides for 25 years. Each year Stonyfield Farm gives away 10% of its profits to organizations and projects that work to protect and restore the earth. In 2007, for that meant a contribution of $1,947,109 to non-profit and educational organizations across the country to support their innovative environmental and organic programs.

Washington D.C./Baltimore area residents are said to be moving toward greener restaurants when they dine out. Zagat Restaurants Survey guide, found recently that 70% of survey respondents consider eating locally grown food important, while 62% will “pay more” for sustainably raised food. Ready to answer this growing hunger for more green living is new dining concept Founding Farmers, which opened last month. Founding Farmers will serve fresh Farm-to-Table American-inspired food from an 8,500 sq foot space at 1924 Pennsylvania Ave. NW just blocks from the White House.

Coca-Cola planned to screen a film about seven “environmental champion” torchbearers as part of a series of green-themed promotions at the summer games in Beijing. “Environmental Champions,” features seven individuals who were selected by Coke as torchbearers on the Olympic torch tour it co-sponsored because of their contributions to environmentally friendly initiatives in their respective countries. The people include Russian biological scientist Nikoay Drozdov, Chinese environmental scientist Liu Hong-Liang and Anna Tibaijuka, United Nations under-secretary-general and executive director of the UN Program on Human Settlements.

Whole Foods Markets, the natural foods retailer, whose value-added line up has earned it the nickname Whole Paycheck, is now telling consumers that they don’t have to bring their whole paycheck to the store. This summer the Austin, Texas-based chain began conducting Value Tours – a guided walk-about geared for foodies looking to stretch their grocery budget. Tours point out deals on produce, new family-size meat packs and private label organics. The chain is also stocking more bargain food items such as a new $3.99 wine, which debuted a few weeks ago in Southern California markets.