Cheese Lovers Newsletter (9.13.2020): Lives Matter Brie

Cheese Lovers Newsletter (9.13.2020): Lives Matter Brie

We’ve acquired the shell of our new refrigerator, cured the concrete of our new storage area and snugly stuck our delivery van in the mud on our newly “graveled” ramp (a quick 5:20 a.m. skid-steer-loader pull got us on our way) in this past week. These projects were all made possible with support by you, as well as grants from the county, state and federal government in midst of the pandemic. We are fortunate that they have targeted storage for food producers as a top priority.

This has been an interesting year to say the least, but commercial and government support has helped food businesses like us survive. We are missing our tour buses and tasting classes, but those vacancies also allowed us to focus more time on other projects like planning, attending more farmers markets and where we fit in the world.

Black Lives Matter Brie
On the note of where we fit in, we were doing some thinking. We are sold out of our traditional Little Lucy Brie for about a week and a half, but in response to the acknowledgement of more needing to be done to eliminate racism, a couple months ago we hatched a plan from our corner of the world. We are a cheese company, and not experts on how to combat systemic racism and the many problems in the world. But our platform does allow us to help make a difference, we are choosing to do so in our own small way, and asking you to help if you feel so inclined.

We have 150 Black Lives Matter Brie - our normal Brie with food grade ash included in 50 of the 150 pieces - in which 100% of the revenue will be donated to P’s & Q’s Etiquette. Alise’s friend Rachel, a fellow Initiator Fellow, runs this nonprofit from her Moorhead/Fargo community in effort to empower young girls and boys with knowledge and leadership skills for their fullest potential, and most of them from minority communities. We will me making a donation of $8 (100%) of all 150 Brie sold to P’s and Q’s. We would challenge our customers to also make a donation directly at their website: Or, you can deliver donations to us and we will deliver to P's and Q's as one check.

We love her work with diverse communities, and if you feel so moved we hope you will consider buying a BLMBrie, or making your own donation to P’s and Q’s for Boys and Girls.

From the fellowship explanation: As an educator, Stone's venture is to equip young people with the knowledge and skills they need to manage daily activities and confidently face new situations while creating pathways to educational and entrepreneurial opportunities. “There are so many gaps and unmet needs when it comes to our youth and my heart is encouraging them to break cycles, create opportunities to lead, and to do whatever we can to bring change and unity in our community."

Since we are delivering to Fargo/Moorhead this week, we wanted to be sure to notify area residents ahead of our Wednesday delivery. Essentially, we have 150 normal looking Brie on the outside, and 1 in 3 have ash added inside. The taste will be nearly identical. This is similar to how we are all humans, but some of us at any given time are carrying challenges and baggage that you cannot see, whether it stems from racial disparities or many other issues that affect our fellow humans.

Ash cannot be added as a color additive per FDA rules. We added it to see how it would work as an acidity buffer. It's interesting, in a small taste test we noticed no taste difference. But, we realized what a metaphor - the difference in something not really making a difference in how much we care. And in our pursuit to do something to support racial justice, we thought this difference in one acidity buffer (ash) was the difference enough to celebrate for a good cause.

New email lists
We will segment out those of you reading to get a second email along your designated routes, on Thursdays before your Wednesday route (six days). These emails will be short, two or three sentence emails with nothing fancy, no Q & A and a link to order. We sent out the Fargo one for the first time, tonight.

Question of the Week: Why and how do some cheeses add ash (like the Black Lives Matter Brie)?
Food grade ash is essentially burned vegetables that can be added for a number of reasons, but FDA has ruled that it is not suitable as a color additive. If you want to read the science on that, the abstract from the European Food Safety Authority here:

But, since we are getting into regulatory speak and don't want to be misquoted, we're going to punt (much like the Vikings did twice tonight) and quote the American Cheese Society Best Practices Guide for Cheesemakers:

"6.8.5 Vegetable ash
Vegetable ash (also called vegetable carbon or vegetable black) is a form of finely divided carbonized material of vegetable origin, and not of petrochemical or hydrocarbon sources.

Function and Application of Vegetable ash
There is a long history by the cheese industry of using vegetable ash in cheesemaking for technical effects in cheese. For example, vegetable ash is used as a pH buffer to decrease the acidity of the surface of cheese to allow desired fungi to develop earlier in the aging process. According to the FDA, vegetable ash is not an approved colorant for foods in the U.S.

Therefore, vegetable ash can only be used for a purpose or purposes other than coloring, and the vegetable ash must be used in a way that any color imparted is clearly unimportant insofar as the appearance, value, marketability, or consumer acceptability is concerned.

Based on the historical use of vegetable ash in cheesemaking, the Office of Food Additive Safety’s (OFAS) current position is that they would not require a color additive listing for vegetable ash when it is used for regulating pH in either domestic or foreign/imported cheese products. FDA currently does not have a food additive regulation permitting the addition of vegetable ash to cheese for the technical effect of acidity regulation nor has it determined vegetable ash to be Generally Regarded as Safe (GRAS). The FDA has not been notified of a GRAS conclusion for vegetable ash for this purpose or received any submissions through their voluntary GRAS Notification Program.
Companies can make a self-determined GRAS conclusion for the use of vegetable ash as a “pH buffer”. Substances concluded to be GRAS for an intended use do not require pre-market approval nor notification to FDA. It is unlikely FDA would challenge a self-determined GRAS conclusion based on a long history of safe use of vegetable ash for acidity regulation and other uses in cheesemaking. It should be noted, however, that it is possible that FDA could undertake an effort to evaluate the science and possible negative health impacts of vegetable ash."

So there you go. They know and support its use for some reasons, but we cannot (and thus will not) use it for color purposes.

Alise, Lucas, Linda and Jerry

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