Why Mountain Vally artisan sheep cheeses for Lemhi County consumers?

Reason #1 Reason 1 in a series of 5 as to “Why Mountain Valley artisan sheep cheeses for Lemhi County consumers?” LOCAL ADVANTAGES Mountain Valley Farmstead (MVF) is the only commercial dairy farm located in Lemhi County. MVF is a registered and licensed Grade A dairy and Cheese Factory with the State of Idaho, USDA, and FDA. MVF is inspected at least monthly. Water, sheep milk, and cheeses are sampled and tested regularly. Even our soil is sampled and tested annually since all of our waste water and sheep manure is surface applied to our pastures. MVF helps to support the local economy. Most of the supplies needed by MVF are purchased here at home. Each year MVF purchases over $45K worth of supplies from other Lemhi County suppliers. Each year MVF sells over $26K worth of wholesale sheep cheeses to our local retailers. These retailers benefit from the ability to not only provide a local product but it also contributes significantly to their own local profits. Consumers outside Lemhi County generally have to spend over $30/lb for MVF premium cheeses. This is due to higher wholesale prices due to fuel and marketing costs to cover the more distant locations coupled with higher retailer markups. Lemhi County consumers generally pay around $22/lb, saving local consumers at least $8/lb or about $4 per wedge.

Reason #2 All cheeses start with milk and not all milks are the same. Therefore, the cheese made from the different milks is likewise not the same. Taste: Cow milk, goat milk, and sheep milk all taste differently. Goat milk tends to have a “tangy” flavor. Sheep milk has a sweeter taste and is noted for its incredibly clean flavor – with no funny aftertaste. In fact, in flavor tests, most people prefer sheep milk to cow or goat milk. Cow and goat milk generally have similar milk composition percentages of water and milk solids at around 87 percent water and 13 percent milk solids. Sheep milk, on the other hand, contains only 80 percent water and 20 percent milk solids. That’s one of the most important reasons sheep cheese is so special and makes such great cheese. Milk solids can also be divided into two subcategories namely solids non-fat (SNF) which is mostly protein, and butterfat solids. Sheep typically contains at least double and often triple the protein and twice the butterfat. Most, but not all milk solids are captured during cheese making. So sheep cheeses typically provide twice the nutrition when compared to cow or goat cheeses. Lastly, milk proteins and milk fat are also very different. There is a vast difference between both sheep milk protein and sheep milk fat. Reason #3 will explain why sheep milk protein is special and better for you. Reason #4 will explain why sheep milk butterfat is better for you.

Reason #3 Sheep milk not only has at least double and often triple the protein when compared to cow or goat milk but sheep milk protein is 100% A2 protein. Modern research has divided milk protein into two catagories: A2 and A1. Most cow milk today is 100% A1 protein that is much more difficult for the human body to digest. Upset stomach, diarrhea, headache, and gas discomforts is often the result when consuming A1 dairy products. Sheep milk A2 protein is much more easily digested, is more allergy friendly, and together with higher calcium and more fatty acids even reduces inflammation within the human body. Sheep milk also contains the natural probiotics needed to boost digestive health. For many consumers, sheep milk dairy products are the only dairy products they are able to consume without digestive upset or an allergic reaction. Sheep milk carbohydrates provide one third more immediate energy to athletes than cow or goat milk. Sheep milk contains much more water soluble vitamins and minerals, particularly calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, riboflavin and zinc. Many large commercial cheese processors add the maximum amount of salt allowed to their cheeses. Why? Salt, as an added solid non-fat in cheese, is cheep. The only salt added to MVF cheese is absorbed into the cheese wheels while briefly floating in the salt brine making it much lower in sodium and higher in nutritional value per pound. High moisture cheeses such as Muenster, Monterey Jack, Colby, Provolone, and Mozzarella all contain much higher proportions of water, making fit the actual nutritional value per pound of cheese much lower. MVF cheeses are lower in moisture content. Water, like salt, in cheese is an inexpensive way of making cheese sales more profitable.

Reason #4 Why the milk fat in Mountain Valley Farmstead sheep milk and cheese is better for you. Sheep's milk has the highest fat content of the three types of milk (cow, goat, and sheep). However, the type of fat is very important. Fat in the human diet can be either healthy or unhealthy. Cow milk fat is almost 100% saturated fat which primarily goes straight to fat reserves in the human body and can contribute to heart disease risk. Sheep milk fat, on the other hand, contains at least 30% of the healthy fats known as monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat. These kinds of fat are usually only found in olive oil, fish, and nuts. These kinds of fat go primarily to body energy which is great for athletes and physically active people. Sheep milk fat also carries with it a higher percentage of the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. In addition, Mountain Valley Farmstead sheep graze our mountain Valley pastures from May through October. The milk from grass fed sheep is higher in omega-3 fatty acids, the essential fatty acids important for brain and eye health that our bodies can't make. These fatty acids are also anti-inflammatory and help reduce arthritis. Grass fed sheep milk is also higher in nutrients like iron, and conjugated linoleic acid, a fatty acid that plays a role in preventing heart disease and obesity. Grass fed sheep milk is also lower in omega-6 fatty acids, which are linked to higher rates of cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes.

Reason #5 How is Mountain Valley Farmstead (MVF) more sustainable? The three intertwined pillars of sustainability are: environmental, societal, and economical. ENVIRONMENTAL The size and processes used by MVF are environmentally sustainable. Although MVF is classified as a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) by the State of Idaho Department of Agriculture (IDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the size of MVF is environmentally sustainable because local natural resources (soil, water, air, and nighttime darkness) are all perfectly preserved. The size of our flock of sheep varies annually. MVF feeds only about 100 sheep through the environmentally sensitive winter months of November through February. This minimizes the accumulation of manure during the time it cannot be applied to our pastures. MVF milk and cheese production is limited to March through August when production wastewater can be surface applied to our 20 acres with absolutely no runoff to adjacent property. All manure and wastewater applications to our property are carefully monitored and recorded and is reviewed annually by both IDA and the EPA. Annual soil sampling and testing is conducted to assure that the soil and groundwater are not overloaded by MVF manure or wastewater. Offensive odors are minimized because no wastewater lagoons are required and all manure accumulations are surface applied to our own property annually. One of the most appreciated characteristics of our area is the clear nighttime view of the stars in the heavens. MVF uses absolutely no artificial nighttime light to contaminate the marvelous and precious nighttime view of the heavens. SOCIETAL The local community is sustained by having a local supply of a very nutritious and wholesome food product. The major portion of our artisan sheep cheeses are consumed within a 16-mile radius from its production location. This minimizes the use of time and energy expended in product distribution, consumer purchasing, and minimizes the local sale prices for our premium sheep cheeses. MVF promotes education and understanding of our vital food production and marketing system by providing free tours of our operations. The list of tour groups includes Salmon and Leadore School Districts, University of Idaho, College of Southern Idaho, home school communities, Farm Bureau, Outdoor Idaho (PBS), Development Workshop, Future Farmers of America (FFA), 4-H, Rotary Club, Lemhi County Economic Development and Chamber of Commerce, Salmon Valley Stewardship, outfitters, retailers, and consumers. ECONOMICAL Our Post #1 described many of the economic benefits MVF contributes to the local economy. MVF purchases all of its alfalfa hay, grain, mineral supplements, and even our wedge labels from local suppliers. MVF pays local property, sales, and income taxes which contribute to the local economy. MVF also utilizes local professionals to maintain and service our complex production systems, prepare our state and National income tax returns, and to provide our informational, animal health, and veterinary needs. Mountain Valley Farmstead is sustainable, environmentally, socially, and economically.