Although the history of cheesemaking in the United States tells largely a tale of industrialization, there is a submerged yet continuous history of small-batch, hands-on, artisan cheese manufacture. This tradition, carried on in artisan cheese factories across the country, although concentrated in Wisconsin, is often overlooked by a new generation of artisan cheesemakers. Continuities in fabrication methods shared by preindustrial and post-industrial artisan creameries have been obscured by changes in the organization and significance of artisan production over the last one hundred years. Making cheese by hand has morphed from chore to occupation to vocation; from economic trade to expressive endeavor; from a craft to an art. American artisan cheesemaking tradition was invented and reinvented as a tradition of innovation. Indeed, ideological commitment to innovation as modern, progressive, American——and thus a marketable value——further obscures continuities between past and present, artisan factories, and new farmstead production. The social disconnect between the current artisan movement and American's enduring cheesemaking tradition reproduces class hierarchies even as it reflects growing equity in gendered occupational opportunities.

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