I was planning to pop in for a drink and then head to an Asian food place where I could eat something beyond the the usual bar food: french fries, chips and salsa, over-dressed salad...
But on the menu I saw that they had a weekly cheese selection. Here's where they get their cheeses, and what I could find out about the dairies:
Rogue Creamery in Oregon (Cow). I couldn't find anything out about this farm online; there is plenty of information about the cheese, but nothing about the animal treatment.
Meadow Creek Dairy in Virginia (Cow). Their farm is very transparent on their humane practices:
We practice sustainable farming methods, managing the land and cattle for health rather than high production. Our primary tool to achieve this goal is intensive grazing management. This involves giving our cattle fresh grass every day; they are not allowed back on the pasture already grazed, allowing the grass to regrow and preventing overgrazing. We use no herbicides or pesticides on our land. Our only crop is grass. We are therefore able to provide excellent nutrition for the dairy herd while improving the health and fertility of our land.
Our milking season begins in late March when all calves are born coinciding with the grass growth. The cattle are never confined, but instead are born and raised on pasture. The cows graze a diverse mixture of perennial grasses and legumes supplemented with some grains, salt and Norwegian kelp. In the fall, when the grass growth wanes, the cows begin to wind down their milk production. Christmas Eve is the last day of the milking season and the beginning of a two month rest for the cows and our family. We avoid routine use of hormones or antibiotics by constantly monitoring our herd's health. We work toward developing and selecting cows with a healthy immune system.
Montchevre in Wisconsin (goat). I looked on their website and it seems as though they get their milk from Rainbow Gate Farm, which is a goat farm in Iowa. I am not sure if that is the only provider, or just a featured farm. I went to the farm's website, and it doesn't say how many goats they have, or the condition in which they are treated. It also has a section on disbudding (de-horning) baby goats, and it walks the reader through the process. I was a little concerned to see that they did not use anesthetic when disbudding the baby goats. By the way, "disbudding" is a euphemism for burning off the horns. Many farms do this, but humane ones use anesthetic. Needless to say, I passed on this one.
Carr Valley in Wisconsin (sheep). They have an extensive award-winning cheese collection... But there is nothing on their website about where the milk comes from that makes this cheese worthy of an award.
After doing my research, I ordered a cheese plate with just the cheese from Meadow Creek Dairy. While the other might very well be just as humane, this wasn't available on their websites.
I was very happy to eat at least one delicious, humane cheese. But I of course have a request for Bar Dupont.
Dear Bar Dupont:
There are many local, humane dairies right in your neck of the woods that are transparent about the treatment of their animals, and just as delicious! You won't have to ship cheese across the country (I will stop the environmentalist-Emily there), and you are supporting humane, transparent farms.