Caroline Tardif, owner of the Fromagerie le Ruban Bleu, is a woman who not only talks the talk, but walks the walk when it comes to living local. In her home they eat 95% local, and all of it organic. She is an inspiration. She also shows how it can be done, and how diverse the offerings are in our region. Her little market store has an impressive collection of local products for customers to choose from: organic jams, cranberries, dried mushrooms, organic popcorn, pasta, organic flour, lavender products, mustard and dried organic herbs. There is also a selection of local cheeses to compliment those from her own farm, as well as sausage and other prepared meat products.
Caroline knew since childhood that she wanted to do something with food, with the earth, and with her community. Her university thesis project was on eco-villages. As she was searching for a business opportunity, her sister called up and told her a goat cheese dairy was for sale. Caroline went to visit and it was love at first sight. Not only could she learn to make goat cheese, but it made it possible to branch out in a lot of other areas as well.
A week after her visit, Caroline put an offer in on the farm, on the condition that she could work as a volunteer for one year before the sale would go through. The owner agreed, and Caroline went to work at the farm to learn her new trade. A year later, her partner Jean-François Hébert decided to join her. Fruit trees are his passion, and that was part of the deal for coming into the business. They have 150 organic apple trees and 30 varieties of pear. There are also plum, cherries, asparagus, and hops. They, (like Maniadakis Orchard), practice biodiversity. In a year or two they plan on selling organic juices.
The goat dairy is moving toward organic certification and currently use organic practices. Their orchard will be certified in 2013 or 2014 at the latest, and the dairy farm, probably the year after that. Besides their goat cheese products, they also make cheese (tomme de brébis) from sheep’s milk, from a farm owned by her cousin out in Cazaville, and a yogurt that is half goat/half sheep’s milk. (The one I tried was very lightly sweetened with maple syrup. It was so delectably creamy, great over cereal and fruit).
When we think dairy, we often assume cow’s milk. But there is overwhelming evidence that goat’s milk is much better nutritionally for humans than cow’s milk. Here are some interesting facts about goat’s milk:
a) The fat globule’s in goat’s milk is smaller than that of cow’s milk, and therefore can be digested easier.
b) Goat’s milk is closer to human milk than that of cow’s milk.
c) There is less lactose in goat’s milk than in that of cow’s milk (if you’re just slightly lactose-intolerant, you might want to try some goat’s milk products like cheese and yogurt and see if you can tolerate it).
d) Goat’s milk is less transformed than cow’s milk
For more information on this topic, check out this article by Dr. Sears.
There has also been a 2007 study showing that goat’s milk is better than cow’s milk for anaemia and bone demineralization.
The Ruban Bleu cheese is superb, with tastes for every palette: the fresh little L’Écu, which can sit in the palm of your hand; le Tuyau de Poêle, with its ashen crust; La Bastringue, a semi-firm goat cheese (tomme de chèvre), plus several others, including Le Chabin, a half-goat/ half-sheep’s milk soft cheese with a crust. To round out a cheese platter, Caroline sells other local sheep’s and cow’s cheeses. It’s a real eye-opener wandering around her shop, discovering a myriad of different local producers and artisans.
You can find them all year at their shop in Mercier. A very quick drive out from Montreal – I made it in 30 minutes. Just plan your return trip carefully: they are doing construction on the main strip and you need to make a detour to get back.
They are also sold in several stores in Montreal (I found their cheeses at the Fromagerie Atwater at their Marché Lachine location).
You can still get some cheese for Christmas – they’ll be open both today (until 5pm) and tomorrow (until 6pm). Or how about a cheese platter for New Year’s? Call them to order, or if you simply want to select a couple of cheeses yourself, or try some of their other products then stop on by. They’ll be open Dec.27th – 30th.
14, rang St-Charles, Mercier, QC J6R 2L1. (450) 691-2929
 “Goats’ Milk Is More Beneficial To Health Than Cows’ Milk, Study Suggests.”