Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Taste our American Artisan Cheeses

By Allison Burch, September 19, 2012  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Allison Burch


You hear the words “artisan” and “artisanal” thrown around a lot these days. Heck, it’s even on menu items at some fast food restaurants and pizza chains. But what do those words really mean?  According to The New Food Lover’s Companion, artisanal food is “primarily handmade and produced in small batches by traditional, predominantly non-mechanical methods.” They go on to say that “superior fresh, natural and local ingredients and attention to detail and excellence are all part of the artisan tradition.”  

Thankfully, the true artisan traditional is alive and well in America, and nowhere more so than with our nation’s fine cheese makers. While we here at Whole Foods Market® love good cheeses from all over the world, we’re especially proud of the local cheese makers in our own backyards. Artisan cheese makers support traditional jobs, healthy farming practices, and the noble art of making something carefully, beautifully, and skillfully. October is American Cheese Month, and now is the perfect time to gear up and start learning more about the phenomenal artisan cheeses produced here in the US.

If you’ve ever walked into our cheese department (and if you haven’t, what’s wrong with you?), you know we have a better selection of American artisanal and organic cheeses than any other national grocery chain. Bonus: the American Cheese Society picked their 2012 conference winners in August, so be on the lookout for signs in our cheese departments celebrating these great American cheeses.  Like all the other food in our stores, the cheese we sell does not contain artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.

Recently, 70 of our cheesemongers passed the first-ever American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Professional™ exam. That makes us the retailer with the largest number of certified cheese experts in North America! So don’t be shy, ask them to point out their local favorites and ask for a taste.  Our cheesemongers are passionate and knowledgeable about cheese and love to share.  And they’ll be happy to cut any cheese to order, so you get just the amount you want or just the price you want.

But, what really sets us apart is the fact that our cheese buyers have close partnerships with cheese makers and personally visit artisanal cheese makers across the US. In fact, if you’re interested in keeping up with her cheese travels and musings follow our Global Cheese Buyer, Cathy Strange, on Twitter @WFMCheese. We also share lots of cheese notes and recipes on Facebook at Whole Foods Market Cheese Deparment.

With thousands of American artisan cheeses out there, finding your favorite is really all a matter of personal taste. Do you love a bloomy rind? A creamy soft-ripened center? Crumbly, tangy blues? How about white-as-snow Chevre laced with herbs? Or a pungent brine-washed beauty? We’ve come up with some recipes that feature a few of our favorite American artisan cheeses:

·         Cypress Grove’s Humboldt Fog (celebrating 20 years!)

·         Cowgirl Creamery’s Mt. Tam (meet the cheese makers)

·         Rogue Creamery’s Rogue River Blue (meet the cheese makers)




Stop by our cheese counter to start your great American cheese journey! You’ll see what the word artisan really means.

What’s your favorite American artisan cheese? Let us know in the comments below.


Category: Cheese




connie says ...
A dubliner or any sharp cheese.MMMMM
09/19/2012 2:16:42 PM CDT
Perry Suk says ...
My recent favorite is the cheese, Field of Cream, from a local goat farm, Prodigal Farm, in Rougemont. The cheese has as some of its ingredients the same herbs/grasses/etc. that the goats dine on, including juniper berries! Visited there during last weekend's farm tour. What a treat and very educational. The chocolate goat cheese cheesecake was amazing as well!
09/19/2012 4:13:51 PM CDT
Barb says ...
My favorite: Royal de Burgogne (?sp). Encrusted with raisins and so creamy.
09/19/2012 8:13:29 PM CDT
Joanna says ...
My favorite cheese is Harvarti, we use it for everything.....its so smooth and delisious!
09/19/2012 9:42:42 PM CDT
Carol H says ...
I just found out that Whole Foods will carry Baetje Farns cheese, atleast in the St Louis area. Thank you!
09/21/2012 2:08:24 PM CDT
Nicole says ...
Can have the recipe for your cheesesteak soup? Please!!!
09/30/2012 9:13:57 AM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@NICOLE - If this is a soup in our Meat or Prepared Foods department at your local store, I would suggest reaching out to your store for the recipe. Our selections vary between stores so if you want to mimic a particular recipe, they can hopefully help you. You can find their contact info at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/list.
10/04/2012 8:26:40 AM CDT
Tamara says ...
Any of the Sartori Cheeses are wonderful - they add delight to any cheese plate you may put together.
10/05/2012 8:51:30 AM CDT
Jonathan Hopkinson says ...
Which stores stock Humbolt fog? Do you have any stores west of London?? J
10/08/2012 12:37:21 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@JONATHAN - Our products differ between regions and store locations. The best way to find out what products your local store carries would be to reach out to them directly. You can find a list of our UK locations at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/list/uk.
10/08/2012 4:40:20 PM CDT
terry o'hara says ...
checking on Upland Cheese Farms' Rush Creek Reserve. Is it in store yet this season?
10/09/2012 9:03:13 AM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@TERRY - Thanks for your question. Our products vary between store locations so check with your local store to see if they carry the Rush Creek Reserve. You can find their contact info at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/list.
10/09/2012 2:57:37 PM CDT
Gill says ...
[DIRECT RESPONSE - NN] How come whole foods in Las Vegas stopped carrying no woman cheese? When I inquired at the store, I was told many people continually come in and ask for the cheese? Will whole foods ever bring it back?
10/15/2012 12:40:00 AM CDT
tom card says ...
I have been looking for a specific hard cheese variety for quite sometime now and hope to get some help here i believe it was one of the worlds winners in hard cheeses back in 2008 and it had something to do with being made with or sitting in a rasberry wine or other red wine i remember that just by tasting a piece smaller than the end of my pinky the taste would linger for hours and it was almost like a light cheddar flavor not sharp nor sweet and i believe the used to sale it at harmons. Any help here sorry for how vague i am but thats kinda why i havent been able to find it cuz i cant seem to explain the true values of this cheese all i know is that it was beyond good
10/19/2012 9:50:37 AM CDT
Reuven says ...
What's all this talk about arsenal cheese makers? I don't believe that when someone cuts the cheese that it should be like a bomb going off! And then, when your friends get sick from your bad cheese and call you a terrorist! Oh, artisanal cheese...never mind.
10/19/2012 11:01:10 PM CDT
Joe Gonzalez Clairmont says ...
Are you going to have Argentinian Sardo cheese ? It seems no one carries it in Tampa. I have to get it from New york.
10/23/2012 4:26:26 PM CDT
Megan says ...
@JOE GONZALEZ CLAIRMONT - Our products vary between store locations, so check with your local store to see if they will carry the Sardo. It's possible they could make a special order for it, if there is enough interest!
10/24/2012 9:13:42 AM CDT
Ellen says ...
I've fallen in love with Cypress Groves Purple Haze, PsychDillic and Sgt. Pepper. I keep buying those three cheeses and eat them with breakfast and sometimes as a snack. I particularly love the way the Sgt. Pepper's flavors unfolds. The last flavor is the spiciest and I love it.
10/24/2012 8:46:04 PM CDT
Reuven says ...
In all seriousness however, cheese is more plentiful and affordable in Paris than anywhere else I've ever been. This is a nice article; http://www.francetoday.com/articles/2012/04/04/smile_and_say_cheese.html
10/25/2012 11:26:20 PM CDT
Nuray Borovsky says ...
I know that 365 Cheeses are rBGH free and I usually buy 365 organic cheese and like them, I would like to try artisan cheese as well Are these artisan cheeses rBGH free?
10/31/2012 7:57:18 PM CDT
Megan says ...
@NURAY - We do our best to source from vendors who use rBGH-free milk, however, the nature of the market makes it hard to guarantee that cheese other than our private label is rBGH free. Products labeled as organic do not have rBGH, and sheep and goat cheese never have rBGH. Here is a good list of cheese companies, many of whom we source products from, that do not use rBGH: http://www.sierraclub.org/biotech/nonrbgh.asp Also, your store's cheesemongers should be able to answer any questions regarding specific cheeses. I hope this helps!
11/01/2012 9:06:46 AM CDT
Mary Saxton says ...
We recently visited Seattle and became acquainted with Beecher's Cheese line, specifically Flagship. On the Beecher's website, Whole Foods is listed as retailers carrying their cheese. Can you please let me know if you do carry this cheese or any of the Beecher cheese. Thank you for your help.
11/07/2012 7:53:40 PM CST
italia58 says ...
01/24/2013 4:36:27 PM CST
John Opris says ...
Whole Napa store: Peppercorn Dry Jack Rumiano, the best!!!!!
02/03/2013 6:34:00 PM CST
Richard says ...
I love cheese, but I have not been expossed to big variety of cheeses, does Whole foods have Tasting Expos for their cheeses?
05/26/2013 5:07:19 PM CDT