Say Fromage: Wesleyan Cheese Co-op Debuts with 400 Members

At first blush, it’s all about the cheese.


But Zachary Malter ’13 says the new Wesleyan Cheese Co-op can be more than a source of variations on Gouda, cheddar and provolone—it’s a social and political experience in the making.


“Food is not just a source of nourishment,” says Malter, chair of the Wesleyan Student Association’s dining committee and an organizer of the cheese co-op, which made its first distribution on Feb. 16. “It’s also a source of community-building.”


Malter envisions wine-and-cheese socials where Wesleyan’s cheese lovers, other foodies, and friends-of-foodies mingle. The co-op has already established a blog for sharing recipes. Suggested by managers at Bon App&eaigu;tit, which operates dining facilities at Wesleyan, the co-op was established by students and the company this fall. Wesleyan also has a Fruit and Veggie Co-op and a Raw Milk Co-op.


One cheese co-op share entitles the shareholder to two 8-ounce portions of fresh cheese from Cato Corner Farm in Colchester, Conn., six times per semester.


Cato Corner is a 40-cow family dairy farm. Elizabeth MacAlister and Mark Gillman, the mother and son who own and operate the farm, make a dozen cheese varieties from milk produced by their free-range Jersey cows. They don’t feed the animals hormones or subtherapeutic antibiotics.


The cheeses range from “mild and milky to runny and pungent to sharp and firm,” according to Cato.


The cheese co-op found an eager clientele for its debut semester: 399 students signed up by the mid-January registration deadline.


Michele Le ’11, a self-described “huge fan of cheese” who eats it with fruit or crackers, as well as cooked in paninis or pasta omelettes, for example, said the co-op gives her access to cheeses she’s unlikely to find in the average grocery.


“I love just about every kind of cheese there is out there, so this opportunity to try new and unfamiliar cheeses was exciting for me,” says the dual government-East Asian studies major from Hawaii.


Eventually the cheese co-op might add other suppliers.


Says Malter, “We want there to be as much variety as possible.”


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