April 12, 2024
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April 12, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

The long-awaited return of high-quality kosher cheese is finally over. Mark Bodzin and his team at Vermont’s Shelburne Farm are once again taking orders for their “kosher cheese worth eating.” Due to popular demand, the cheese for this batch is Chalav Yisrael. Quantities are limited so order now.

Two years ago, Bodzin used the crowdfunding website, Kickstarter.com, to fund his first batch and the necessary one-day Vaad HaRabonim-of-Massachusetts-supervised run for the cheddar. Kickstarter and other crowdfunding sites have been increasing in popularity over the years as ways to popularize products and ideas. On Kickstarter the product creator sets a fundraising goal and gives perks at different money levels. In his case, Bodzin offered a pound of cheddar for $32, with the price decreasing per pound the more cheddar a consumer purchased.

The kosher foodie community loved the product, with 308 backers raising more than $19,000 to fund the one-day run of cheddar. Originally, Bodzin had not thought he would make a Chalav Yisrael cheese, explaining on his Kickstarter campaign, “As of now there are no plans to make this Chalav Yisrael, the cost is just too high. We are making 600 pounds of cheese a day; to add on the cost of having two mashgiachs (one to watch the milking in the day and one to watch the milking at night) would add another $1 to $2 per pound for each day’s run.”

After receiving customer feedback, the most common request was to make a Chalav Yisrael version of the cheddar. So in March of 2015, Bodzin and his team ran their second batch of cheese, but this time under Chalav Yisrael supervision. The 1,200 pounds of cheese have aged for a year and are now ready for orders. They have managed to lower their prices significantly, with a pound for just $18, half a pound for $9.50 or 10 pounds for $100, an average of half the original Kickstarter price.

Bodzin and his team at Shelburne Farms enjoyed the experience of making kosher cheese. In an interview last year, Shelburne Farms’ head cheese maker, Kate Turcotte, told the Jewish Link, “Overall, it was a really positive experience for us. We make the same cheese seven days a week, with a very routine kind of production. The kosher production involved only slight changes to our system and process, but doing it allowed us to open up our product to a whole new group of people who will now have access to our cheese.” To order your Chalav Yisrael cheddar, visit www.munclearks.com.

By Shlomo Deutsch

Shlomo Deutsch is a TABC work study intern at the Jewish Link.

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