Feta, a crumbly white Greek cheese with a sharp, tangy flavor, is traditionally made with sheep’s or goat’s milk, and commonly used as an ingredient in salads, pizzas, pastries, spanakopita, or—due to its delicious standalone flavor—simply served on its own with olive oil. Not surprisingly, such versatility makes feta the most popular cheese in Greek cuisine, with hardly a Greek breakfast, lunch or dinner unaccompanied by feta. Like olive oil, and, well, olives, feta is one of many sine qua non (essential elements) of Greek cuisine—akin to, say, the significance of fish to the Japanese diet, or the importance of quinoa to Peru.
As one of the world’s oldest cheeses, originating in Greece and later spreading to be included in the dishes of other Balkan countries, nowadays many countries outside of the Mediterranean region—such as Germany, Denmark, Australia, and the United States—have become major feta producers to keep up with its growing popularity, as the cheese garners attention from foodies worldwide. While increased availability and the accompanying lower prices can be seen as boon for the non-Mediterranean-based feta consumer, that it’s typically made from cow’s milk when produced abroad, and not sheep’s or goat’s milk as traditionally done in Greece, represents an unfortunate but not-that-unusual phenomenon when culturally significant foods, of certain characteristic taste and flavor, are recreated in different regions and under different conditions, while still labeled and marketed as “authentic.”
Thus, it goes without saying that the feta cheese available in supermarkets in the States, if not explicitly from Greece, are likely from cow’s milk and, while vaguely resembling the original product, are more an imitation, a faux, inauthentic recreation of a delicious cheese the Greeks wouldn’t dare touching.
At the Coop, we’re proud to offer authentic goat’s milk (and Greek-worthy) feta from Lively Run, an upstate New York-based family-owned and operated dairy farm making artisanal cheeses with processes rooted in tradition, and producing a uniquely delicious feta even the Greek gods would find tasty! We’re excited to support a local farm providing real feta using the right ingredients, and we hope you (our quality scrutinizing members!) enjoy the distinct flavor and texture of this superior quality traditional cheese.