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 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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.