Special Occasions

Why I buy Tillamook

August 17, 2014

why-I-buy-Tillamook

If you follow me on Instagram you probably noticed that I recently took a trip to the Oregon coast to visit the wonderful people at Tillamook. While I was there I got to experience the company and was lucky enough to witness the love behind the brand. I’ve always been a fan of their cheese, yogurts, and ice creams, but this post is a little more then that. I want to share their back story and the little details that you don’t know about this amazing brand. I want you to know why I buy Tillamook.

Tillamook-jersey-cow

Tillamook has been around since 1909. That is certainly a long time to be perfecting a recipe, but that is truly what they have done. For over a century their farmer-owners have been committed to providing families with the most consistent, best tasting, highest quality dairy products made in the most natural way possible. Their cheese-makers are so passionate about their job and it shows. We got to walk around the facility with Dale, who has been with the company for over 45 years, and I could hear the passion in his voice as he talked us through the entire cheese making process. Care goes into every step from transporting the milk all the way to packaging. They also take the time to taste test every batch of cheese before they send it to your table. If it doesn’t stand up to their quality check it doesn’t get sent out.

But things start way before the factory…

tillamook-farmers
Meet Ryan and Wendy. These two own one of the many farms that supply Tillamook with the milk used for their dairy recipes. They work 365 days a year taking care of their family of cows and ensuring that things run smoothly on the front end of the process. Farming in Tillamook isn’t all cute calves and grazing. These hard working people rise as early as two in the morning to clean, feed, and milk their cows.

milking-station

The second you arrive on their farm you are greeted by a herd of giant cows just waiting to say hello. They all shuffle their way to Wendy and attempt nuzzles her with grass covered noses and share shirt nibbles hoping for little treats. She didn’t seem phased at all and both her and Ryan jumped right into our warm welcome. The cows are part of their family and they were happy to introduce us. Each one has a story and unique personality.  I had no idea that life on the farm is more of a lifestyle than a job. They wear the hat of multiple professions by preforming veterinary skills, mechanical feats, and business managers. All the while treating each cow as a family member.

tillamook-cow-nose

The friendly demeanor of the animals is clear when you reach your hand close to the fence. They don’t hesitate to stick their nose and ears right into your palm for a good ol’ rub. Giant tongues stretch to share slobbery kisses and you just know that these cows are happy. They are free to graze on big open fields unless it’s a cold and rainy day. In that case they are kept in a barn covered from the elements and supplied with the very best food.

tillamook-hey

tillamook-cows-eating

 

Our farmer-owners have a deep-rooted pride in the quality of Tillamook products. We think this is the advantage of being a farmer-owned cooperative. We are, and always have been, owned and operated by the people who work the soil, milk the cows, and make decisions about the future of the co-op. The values of our farmer-owners drive the way we operate our business. All profits from the cooperative stay in the Tillamook family, with our farmer-owners, who are invested in the co-op for the long run. This means the proceeds go to the people who are doing the work, to ensure that their farms continue producing the highest quality milk and to help sustain dairy farming in Tillamook for many generations to come. And we think that just makes sense.

 

tillamook-cows

It takes a village to run this company, literally. It is a family affair. Many of the employees have followed in their parents footsteps and joined the Tillamook team to continue creating the products we know and love. I feel so privileged that they allowed a few of us into their lives to see the love that they share for their work and give us a little look at just how much work is involved.

tillamook-bloggers

I buy Tillamook not only because it is the best, but because I know that each one of the team members are working to keep the brand at that great quality level. Tillamook is a family and I want to be a part of it.

tillamook-jersey-cows

Just a few fun facts I think you should know:

– They are still using the SAME well aged cheddar recipe. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, right?
– They use no preservatives in the cheese making process which means it’s all natural aging. They pack up each block and store it in a sterile area until the ultimate flavor is achieved.
– Always use fresh quality ingredients. Milk is used the same day it arrives at the factory.
– Product quality. It’s simply the best.

Comments (11)

  • Gillian Kennedy Reply

    August 18, 2014 at 6:29 pm

    What beautiful photos! You captured Wendy and Ryan (and their lovely cows) so perfectly! They will be so touched :)

  • Dorothy @ Crazy for Crust Reply

    August 20, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    I love your photos!! The black and whites are gorgeous. It was so great to meet you! :)

  • Liren Reply

    August 29, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    Such gorgeous photos – I loved reliving the whole delicious experience through your images! So glad we were able to meet and experience the fun together!

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  • Lisa {AuthenticSuburbanGourmet} Reply

    September 24, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    What a great recap! Loved the black and white photos – adds a new dimension to the post. Great to meet you and it was a fun trip!!

  • Heather Reply

    June 12, 2016 at 3:03 am

    I LOVE Tilamook cheese! But I would like to know: what happens to the baby calves? The mamas can’t give milk without babies. What happens to the babies?

    • Jesseca Reply

      June 15, 2016 at 9:23 am

      That’s a great question. I remember talking about it when we were there but can’t remember what the answer was. I sent a message over to find out for you. Stay tuned!

    • Jesseca Reply

      June 27, 2016 at 4:38 pm

      Many Tillamook calves grow up to become the cows that produce the milk, so farmers make it a priority to get them off to a healthy start. Within the first 24 hours following a birth, a dairy farmer will closely monitor the cow and the calf to ensure the health of both animals. This includes making certain that the calf receives colostrum, or the first milk from the mother, and eventually moving the calf to a separate pen for the calf’s health and safety. The nursery area is clean, with plenty of soft straw or sawdust, and allows for continued individual care and monitoring of the calf. Keeping a calf separated from the herd allows the young animal to have a safe and healthy start to its life. Bottle-feeding the calves allows a farmer to monitor the nutrition of each individual calf, ensuring they grow up to be healthy members of the herd.

      Every calf, whether it is a heifer (female) or a bull (male) calf, is required to be treated with the best of care while under the care and supervision of any of our farmer-owners or other dairy farmers we conduct business with. In general, heifers are kept on the farm, and a dairy farmer will raise them to become a producing member of the herd. On most dairy farms, bull calves are not raised by the individual farmer and may be sold. There are exceptions at every farm, where a farmer may choose to raise a bull for breeding purposes or because of its excellent genetics.

      You might be interested to hear that Tillamook also participates in the National Dairy FARM Program (Farmers Assuring Responsible Management), which is an organization that promotes the highest levels of animal care and audits participating farms/members.

  • Jordan Renee Reghetti Reply

    June 25, 2016 at 12:51 am

    Is it true that they send the male calves to a veal factory? And is there Rennet in the Tillamook cheese’s? I know that rennet usually derives from the lining of calves stomachs. And is it true that when the calf is born they immediately take it from the heffer/mama cow?

    • Jesseca Reply

      June 27, 2016 at 4:37 pm

      Many Tillamook calves grow up to become the cows that produce the milk, so farmers make it a priority to get them off to a healthy start. Within the first 24 hours following a birth, a dairy farmer will closely monitor the cow and the calf to ensure the health of both animals. This includes making certain that the calf receives colostrum, or the first milk from the mother, and eventually moving the calf to a separate pen for the calf’s health and safety. The nursery area is clean, with plenty of soft straw or sawdust, and allows for continued individual care and monitoring of the calf. Keeping a calf separated from the herd allows the young animal to have a safe and healthy start to its life. Bottle-feeding the calves allows a farmer to monitor the nutrition of each individual calf, ensuring they grow up to be healthy members of the herd.

      Every calf, whether it is a heifer (female) or a bull (male) calf, is required to be treated with the best of care while under the care and supervision of any of our farmer-owners or other dairy farmers we conduct business with. In general, heifers are kept on the farm, and a dairy farmer will raise them to become a producing member of the herd. On most dairy farms, bull calves are not raised by the individual farmer and may be sold. There are exceptions at every farm, where a farmer may choose to raise a bull for breeding purposes or because of its excellent genetics.

      You might be interested to hear that Tillamook also participates in the National Dairy FARM Program (Farmers Assuring Responsible Management), which is an organization that promotes the highest levels of animal care and audits participating farms/members.

      About Rennet

      For the majority of Tillamook cheeses, they use a fermentation-produced rennet product that has Kosher and Halal certification, and is vegetarian-friendly. This rennet is used to make all of the following varieties of Tillamook cheese: Medium, Sharp, Special Reserve Extra Sharp, Kosher, and Reduced Fat Cheddar cheeses, as well as Monterey Jack, Mozzarella, Colby, Colby-Jack, Pepper-Jack, Provolone, Muenster, Swiss and Reduced Fat Monterey.

      For a few Tillamook aged white cheddar cheeses (Tillamook Medium White Cheddar, Sharp White, Extra Sharp White Cheddar, Vintage Extra Sharp White Cheddar, 3 Year Aged Vintage Extra Sharp White, Smoked Extra Sharp White Cheddar, and Smoked Vintage Extra Sharp White), they currently use a traditional, bovine rennet. These products are not considered vegetarian. However, they are currently working to transition all of their cheese to using the fermentation-produced rennet, so soon all of their cheeses (including the aged white cheddars) will be vegetarian friendly. Be sure to look for the call out, “contains no animal rennet” on the packaging to know if it is made with vegetarian rennet.

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