Next Historical Association brown bag lunch Thursday is on cheese in St. Lawrence County
Tuesday, August 3, 2010 - 8:59 am

CANTON – The St. Lawrence County Historical Association’s next brown bag lunch topic is near and dear to many in Northern New York: Cheese. They will host “St. Lawrence County, the Adirondack Crescent, and America's Cheese” on Thursday, Aug. 5 at the Silas Wright House, 3 East Main St.

This free program will be given by SLCHA members Russ Hall & Peg Rooney Hall, authors of the newly published “The Summer of a Thousand Cheeses.” They will share some of what they learned while doing research for the book over the past four years.

Russ Hall grew up in Star Lake and Peg Rooney Hall in Rochester. Both were early fans of New York cheddars and of cheese curds.

Much of their research centered on the Adirondack region.

Their curiosity was piqued when they discovered what they dubbed the Adirondack Crescent.

In 1902, 613 cheese factories hugged the Adirondacks in the shape of a giant crescent. Only a handful of the factories remain today and few are prospering.

At the same time, the authors found that local, artisan-made cheeses were on the rise. In 2007 they happened upon the Warwick Cheese Festival, Que., which offered more than 300 types of cheese to sample. They next attended the American Cheese Society conference in Burlington, Vt., where there were 1,200 kinds of cheese.

The authors will share highlights of their adventures tracing the simultaneous decline of local cheese factories and growth in the number of artisan cheese makers in the Adirondack Crescent and around the country. They will relate their findings to local natural history and human history, and to global trends affecting all of us.

Some of the questions the Halls will answer include:

What was the role of the Adirondack region and New York State in America's cheese story?

What is happening today in America's cheese landscape?

Who are today's cheese makers? Where do they come from? How did they get started? What does cheese mean for their farms?

Where was artisan cheese hiding in the 1970s and 1980s while changing attitudes about foods were leading to backyard vegetable gardening and shopping at natural food stores and co-ops?

The brown bag lunch will, of course, include a sample of cheese.

For more information, contact the SLCHA at 386-8133 or e- info@slcha.org.