Cheese spreadJeff Maurone via Flickr.If you were anywhere near Seattle this weekend and you didn’t make it to the Seattle Cheese Festival, oh man, I’m sorry. Oh man.

Pike Place Market, a sample-lover’s paradise on any day, played host to more than 200 artisanal cheesemakers for the weekend. Each brought some fine creations and each offered samples with extreme generosity. There were goat cheeses, sheep cheeses, and dairy cheeses, of just about every form imaginable. There were farmers from around the Northwest, and around the world, willing to talk about their methods and the diet of their animals. As an enthusiastic but otherwise unqualified cheese correspondent, I couldn’t come close to picking a favorite, though I can’t stop thinking about a fresh sheep’s milk offering from Black Sheep Creamery in Adna, Wash.

Organizers prepared for 65,000 attendees and may well have exceeded that target. Attendees barely held on to the façade of Seattle nice as they elbowed to get within arm’s reach of the more popular tables. I can’t imagine how many toothpicks, plastic spoons, and miniature plastic cups were consumed.

Sure, in the big picture of national dairy consumption, it made nary a blip—Kraft sells bazillions more units of factory cheese than these regional outfits. One salesperson told me how a partnership with Costco has been crucial for her company, offering a reminder that even noble artisan producers rely on problematic long-distance distribution.

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But in the small picture of celebrating human-scale food consumption in all its breadth and splendor, it was a fine little party.

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