Careful St. Louis food consumers have hardly begun to realize how lucky they are to have such an excellent source of outstanding goat milk products at the Soulard Farmers’ Market as those provided by Steve and Veronica Baetje of Baetje Farm. Their products have attracted considerable attention. For example, Neville McNaughton of CheezSorce L.L.C. recently made several insightful comments about Baetje Farm. He noted that:
"Veronica is a little gem in the cheese business. She represents a whole new era of cheese production that will literally make us a better nation. She and Steve are making very fine cheese. They are a quick study. They have an excellent facility, they are hard working and they are destined to do well."
Neville, who is a consultant in the cheese business, adds:
"Baetje Farm throws the spotlight on some of the issues surrounding the concept of regionally produced foods. One important element is the requirement that regional food producers must be able to make a living from their efforts and from the products they produce. It is important that we are able to communicate this need to the consumers.
"Another realization is that some aspects of food production result in distortions in the entire industry. These distortions tend to favor the big guys, the result of advantages they hold over the supply chain as the result of their size and control. These advantages include passing off costs to producers and to consumers, something which undermines quality and consumer satisfaction. Freshness and flavor are lost. This is not the case with Baetje Farm products, for example. They live for these qualities.
"These issues aside, regionality is being given a boost because of the rising costs of fuel and energy. A window is being opened by devoted producers such as Veronica and Steve, who clearly offer insights into top quality and readily available options. Rising energy costs spur consumers to search for options, and Baetje Farm products reward this search."
Neville has considerable background in cheese production. Born and raised in New Zealand and now a resident of Davisville, Mo., Neville has over 34 years in the dairy and cheese industry. His job as a consultant to people like Steve and Veronica includes providing insights into project management, set-up, aging room design, plant layout, new product development, cheesemaking training and specialized promotional activities. His website is http://www.cheezsorce.com/.
Neville concludes that "it has been a privilege to be of assistance to Veronica and Steve. Their cheese is made from raw milk when it is appropriate and pasteurized when it is legally required. Her products are wholesome and represent the best of what can be done with milk. Large industrial producers rarely just use what is on the label. This applies to milk and milk products, and particularly to cheese, which usually has additives. Baetje Farm, which sells its products fresh and close to its source of raw materials, sidesteps this entire issue. The consumers benefit."
It should be added that Scharf Farm and a number of other Soulard Farmers’ Market vendors also provide market shoppers with regionally produced or grown products. As an aside, it is nice to note that KSDK Channel 5 did a very nice piece on Baetje Farm and on several other Soulard Market vendors. The short aired on Show Me St. Louis. The publicity helps broadcast one of the greatest assets of St. Louis - the Soulard Farmers’ Market. Many thanks to KSDK for the coverage and to Neville McNaughten for his explanation of the importance of Baetje Farm.