Now more than ever people are looking for ways to support smaller, local farming establishments. But not everyone has quick and easy access to farmer’s markets. But one way that big business is bringing quality to the masses is Cabot Creamery. What started out as a regional co-op among New England dairy farmers has become a nationally recognized brand.
You can more than likely pick up some of their fine cheeses from your local grocery chain. However few know that dairy enthusiasts can tour Cabot’s standalone stores in Vermont and Maine. However, the main attraction is undoubtedly the Cabot Visitors Center and Tour, found in Cabot, VT.
The factory is tour is certainly focused on educating the public on the process of creating cheese. The tour begins like any other, with an introductory educational video. But guests are also able to see the process firsthand as they walk down the factory’s hallways. Through the windows, Cabot’s team can be seen hard at work producing some of the best cheeses in the nation.
If nothing else, the amount of equipment seen is impressive. From the large storage tanks to the sprawling production area. Even molding for creating cheese wheels by hand, and the heating and cooling areas. Cabot’s gives a new found appreciation for cheese.
Short, But Valuable
The tour generally takes about 45 minutes to complete. Some may not think this is especially long, but it’s hard to beat a $3 admission ticket. Not to mention the free samples of cheese offered in the gift shop. It seems at the very least an equal exchange. You can certainly get your money’s worth, and then some. All without having to stalk the sample person at your nearest warehouse store.
Usually, only the weekday tours feature the team hard at work; if you happen to go during the weekend, chances are the employees will not be on site. The tour remains the same, and visitors can still see the equipment and learn about the process, however. Some may find the lack of visually seeing the process as a bit dull, while others may prefer the more intimate setting of a people-free factory tour.
Firsthand Food Science
As you can see during the tour, creating the perfect cheese is as much an art as it is a science. Using some interesting industry-specific pieces of heavy machinery, as well as relying on some level of chemistry, enzymes, bacteria, and raw dairy products are combined to create your favorite blocks and wheels of cheese.
By undergoing a rigorous battery of cooking, cooling, and separation techniques, visitors can see for themselves just how complicated it can be to create a quality product.
Some cheeses may naturally have a milky white color, which may wind up dyed yellow to match what people “think” cheese should be. However, for the most part, Cabot only uses all-natural ingredients, which is much of the success of the taste of their cheeses and other products.
Exit Through the Gift Shop
The gift shop is one part farmer’s market, one part attraction gift shop. In addition to complimentary samples and regular contest drawings, visitors can peruse offerings of locally made maple syrups, cookbooks, t-shirts, Cabot dairy products, and more. Whether you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind gift for a special cheese lover, or you’re looking to stock up for yourself, there’s an eclectic mix of grocery and souvenirs to purchase.
A Responsible Corporation
Although Cabot’s is now a relatively large company, it’s made up of smaller farmers comprising the whole. As such, it is good to give the company the attention as they continue producing their award winning cheeses.
In fact, Cabot’s has achieved B Corporation status, meaning that the corporate side has reached a level of transparency and environmentally ethical behaviors, helping to curb the image of “evil” big business. While it ‘s nice to support any national chain, it’s even easier knowing that your money is going to a better cause than most.
If you love factory tours, especially the nearby Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Tour, then you’ll love this other Vermont industrial tour offering. With a low cost of admission, interesting educational experiences, and fresh and delicious samplings, it’s hard to beat this family friendly outing.