Hayley Goodchild, McMaster University

In Pursuit of “Honest Milk”: Nature, Proximity, and Labour in Early Ontario Cheese Making

In 1892, factory owner Thomas Ballantyne addressed his fellow association members about the principles of cheese making and the management of Ontario cheese factories. “Discussion and theory have their place and their use,” he said, “but a cheese-maker never was made at a dairymen’s convention.” Echoing Ballantyne, I suggest that cheese makers were “made” in the factories as they contended with biological and technological minutiae. Dishonest or unscientific milk became a site of contestation as it moved between farmers, their cows, and cheese makers. In particular, knowledge distance between farmers and cheese makers grew, even as the explosion of cheese making in the province meant that factories were increasingly important (and proximate) socio-economic sites in rural communities. Using a “georgic-” or work-based approach, this paper ultimately considers how local foodscapes have borne, quite physically, the marks of emerging global food markets, making the analytical division between local and global untenable.