December 28, 2020
Dear WASCA Members,
As this unprecedented year draws to a close, I am honored to have served you for the past four months. I believe that we have accomplished much despite the challenges 2020 has brought, and that we will achieve much more in the new year. With all that is going on during this busy time, I am excited to have enough news to share with you to justify an earlier-than-usual newsletter transmission. I hope that these tidbits are useful, and that you feel connected to the community of cheesemakers, cheese lovers, and cheese industry folks who make up WASCA.
Whatever holidays you celebrate this winter, I wish you warmth, good health, and success in the year to come.
Courtney C. Johnson, PhD, ACS CCP
FDA Traceability Regulations
As many of you may be aware, the FDA has proposed changes to the FSMA rules that would involve greater traceability requirements for any farmers and cheesemakers whose annual sales are greater than $25,000. WASCA is following developments related to these regulations, as they will affect many of our cheesemaker members.
Before the rule is approved or amended, there is a 120-day comment period, which has just been extended until February 22, 2021. Anyone who considers themselves a stakeholder affected by this rule change is encouraged to provide comments to the FDA. The American Cheese Society’s Regulatory & Academic Committee is also writing comments on behalf of their membership; they encourage anyone who would like to comment to do so, or ACS members may ask the R&A committee to include their suggested comments.
If you would like to learn more about the proposed rule, here are a few useful links:
- “FSMA Proposed Rule for Food Traceability” on the FDA website.
- “What the New FDA Rule Means for Farms: Part 1” on the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition blog.
- “Pre-recorded Webinar to Discuss Food Traceability Proposed Rule” on the FDA website.
- “Who is subject to the rule?” fact sheet on the FDA website.
- “Food Traceability List” of affected foods on the FDA website.
- “Key Terms Glossary” fact sheet on the FDA website.
- “Risk-Ranking Model for Food Tracing” used by the FDA to determine what producers are affected.
WASCA is pleased to announce its first-ever holiday fundraiser! We are offering an online Washington cheese class on Friday, February 5. The class will feature cheeses from four WASCA cheesemaker members. Ticket holders will pick up their cheeses the week of the class at a pickup location in either Edmonds or Burien, and will receive a link to log into the class on Friday evening. The class will educate participants about Washington’s cheeses, teach them how to taste and appreciate different styles and cheese, and encourage them to choose locally grown and made pairings when they enjoy our state’s cheeses. Tickets are for sale online until they are sold out.
The Education Committee has created a survey to better understand the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on our state’s cheesemakers, and to find out how WASCA can better serve our members in 2021—a year that will begin with just as much uncertainty as 2020. All cheesemakers are encouraged to fill out the survey by January 2, 2021. The survey results will be reported at the annual member meeting in January. You may access the survey here.
Educational Opportunity: Cheese Defects Class (online)
The California Artisan Cheese Guild has put together a remote cheesemaker education course with UC Davis. The five-part course, titled “Cheese Defects + Their Prevention,” will be taught by Dr. Moshe Rosenburg, Professor and Specialist in the Department of Food Science and Technology. Tickets are on sale now for the remote course that will take place in February 2021. The cost for non-member registration before January 11 is $150.
A Guild-to-Guild Partnership for WASCA Members
The Buying Committee is delighted to announce a new opportunity for WASCA members. WASCA has partnered with the Northwest Editors’ Guild (NWEG) to offer a guild-to-guild exchange of services. A selection of NWEG members have stepped up to offer their services to WASCA members: copy editing, proofreading, copy writing, website design, and more. Especially during the pandemic, many of us have found that websites and written marketing materials are more important than ever in driving sales—but not everyone has the time or expertise to excel in that arena. This group of seasoned editors are interested in cheese and in helping our state’s cheese community succeed. All of the editors, their contact information, and their areas of expertise are listed in a Google Doc.
2021 Membership Drive
If you haven’t already done so, it is time to renew your membership with WASCA for 2021! You may renew online at the appropriate level: Licensed Cheesemaker, Business Member, Corporate Sponsor, or Enthusiast. We are able to achieve more together, so please renew your membership with WASCA that we can achieve bigger and better things for our state’s cheese community in the year to come!
New Member Benefits in 2021!
WASCA is pleased to announce two new benefits for WASCA members who join or renew their membership for the 2021 calendar year.
All members will receive a copy of our very first Washington Cheese Trail map, which will be available after the first of the year. The map highlights the bounty of cheesemaking in our state.
All members will also receive a WASCA-logo cooler bag. After the hardships of 2020, we felt we needed to offer something special to members who continue to support our organization and our efforts to uplift Washington cheese. The bag, which is the perfect size for holding a variety of local cheeses and accompaniments, will also be available after the first of the year.
Please make sure we have an updated address on file so we can properly mail your WASCA swag to you!
January Member Meeting
As a reminder, our annual member meeting will take place on Friday, January 29, from 10 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. Details on how to attend the online meeting, as well as the meeting agenda, will be sent out closer to the meeting date. While we won’t be able to meet in person and share cheeses at the Butcher’s Table as usual, I hope you will be able to join from the comfort of home to share in virtual camaraderie. Our guest speaker at the meeting will be Dr. Gigi Berardi Professor at Huxley College, Western Washington University and Author of the award-winning FoodWISE – A Whole Systems Guide to Sustainable and Delicious Food Choices. We will also learn the results of our upcoming Board of Directors election, for which three spots are open.
News & Updates
Good Food Awards Finalists – Three of WASCA’s licensed cheesemaker members are finalists in the 2021 Good Food Awards. Cascadia Creamery (Trout Lake) is a finalist for Cloud Cap; Ferndale Farmstead (Ferndale) is a finalist for their Smoky Scamorza and Fontina; and Samish Bay Cheese (Bow) is a finalist for Vache. Please join us in congratulating them on this achievement! Winners will be announced during a virtual Good Food Awards Ceremony on January 22, 2021, at 5:30 p.m.
WASCA in Culture Magazine – Lindsay Slevin of Twin Sisters Creamery (Ferndale) and President of WASCA was cited in a year-in-review article in Culture Magazine about the pressures the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on the cheese industry. The article, “Weathering the Storm: The cheese industry looks back at its pandemic year. Marci Shuman of Cascadia Creamery (Trout Lake) was also interviewed and cited in the article.
Seattle Times Holiday Gift Guide – The Seattle Times listed WASCA’s “Where to Buy Washington Cheese” list in an article called, 10 delicious Pacific Northwest food gifts for happier pandemic holidays on December 4. The list, which Meghan McKenna created earlier this year to help consumers find and buy Washington cheese during the pandemic, continues to generate interest in our cheesemakers.
Tilth Alliance Food Finder and Holiday Gift Guide – The Tilth Alliance unveiled a new edition of their Farm & Food Finder online at Eat Local First. They also created a virtual Holiday Food & Farm Finder with a pledge drive to encourage Washingtonians to shop local this holiday season. Several WASCA cheesemakers are featured on both the regular and holiday Food & Farm Finder, and in the alliance’s Holiday Gift Guide.
Harmony Fields Article – Jessica Gigot of Harmony Fields (Bow) wrote an essay titled, A Day in the Life of a Cheesemaker that appeared in the July/August 2020 issues of Bellingham Alive! Magazine.
Got news? Please let us know about any press you receive. We are proud of our members and we would love to help you spread the word when you end up in the news!