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When you hear two middle-aged men in Green Bay, Wisconsin, talking about statistical records, it’s easy to assume they are discussing sports.
After all, Green Bay is home to the legendary Packers of the National Football League, who so dominate the local culture that the city’s public buses have green and gold stripes to honor the team’s colors.
But two guys chatting in amazement over the record figure of 2,555 weren’t talking about passing or rushing yards, or anything at all to do with the beloved Packers.
They were talking about cheese.
In the United States these days, cheese is emerging as a product and point of pride that in some circles is beginning to rival that of local sports teams.
That was clear at the United States Championship Cheese Contest held here last week, where a crowd of about 500 people packed a ballroom to see a champion named. Two days earlier, a steady stream of people watched judges sniff, taste, spit and rate nearly 3,000 different cheeses from across the nation.
“It’s become a phenomenon,” said John Umhoefer, executive director of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, which organizes and hosts the contest every other year. “People fly in from across the country to go to this.”
A Baby Swiss cheese made by Guggisberg Cheese in Ohio was named the overall champion. Two aged Goudas made by Marieke Gouda, a Wisconsin company, finished second and third in the competition that also chose winners in 116 categories.
The contest has come a long way from its humble beginnings in a butter factory’s garage in 1981.
“There was a boat in there, and six people judging a couple hundred cheeses,” said Umhoefer, whose organization also hosts a biennial world championship contest in Madison, Wisconsin. “Now, we’ve got 2,555 cheeses, butters and yogurt, and we’re in Lambeau Field” — home of the Packers.
The contest bills itself as the nation’s largest technical cheese, butter and yogurt competition.
In a state called America’s Dairyland, where locals are called “cheeseheads,” the changes in the industry and products that have swept across the nation have played out here on a larger scale.
“There are so many more good producers of cheese in the United States than there used to be,” said Gordon Edgar, who has been a cheese buyer for San Francisco’s Rainbow Grocery cooperative since 1994 and has written two books, “Cheesemonger: A Life on the Wedge” and “Cheddar: A Journey to the Heart of America’s Most Iconic Cheese.”
“There are all sorts of cheeses that weren’t made in the U.S. for a long time, if ever,” he said.
Cheesemaking is by no means a new industry in the U.S. English colonists and Irish immigrants brought it to New England, while Swiss and German immigrants brought it to Wisconsin.
Farmstead operations, with cheese made from a farm’s cows, gave way to cooperatives and commodity cheese — mozzarella is the top-produced cheese in the U.S.
Two forces brought change among U.S. cheese producers. The counterculture and back-to-the land movements of the 1960s and 1970s sparked people to make cheese on their own farms. From there sprang small artisanal cheese companies.
In Wisconsin, agricultural leaders in the 1990s were faced with the prospect of California becoming the country’s top dairy producer. Unwilling to lose its leadership position, local governments got to work.
Tax breaks helped dairy producers and cheese plants modernize. Other government funding led to the founding of the Dairy Business Innovation Center and the spread of smaller, specialty cheese operations throughout the state.
In 1997, Wisconsin made 50 million pounds of specialty cheese. By 2007, that figure grew to 174 million. In 2017, the most recent available statistic, the total was 799 million — 47 percent of specialty cheese made in the U.S.
Throughout the U.S., consumers wanted more locally produced and unique foods, and the cheese industry was well-positioned to meet the demands.
Low prices, tariff anxiety
Despite an enthusiastic market for specialty cheese, these are tough times for the dairy industry. More than 1,000 Wisconsin dairy farms have closed in the past two years. Milk prices have been low, and cheese exports to Mexico and China have dried up because of tariffs.
“With an event like this, you see the innovation and you see how people are trying to market their way out of the doldrums,” Umhoefer said of the contest. “The commodity price is low, but that just means you need to make something better than a commodity.”
Many U.S. cheesemakers are succeeding at doing that.
Besides the contest in Green Bay, cheese fans have filled tents and convention centers throughout the U.S.
In 2016, a U.S.-made cheese, Grand Cru Surchoix by Roth Cheese of Monroe, Wisconsin, won the world cheese championship for the first time since 1988.
In 2017, Andy Hatch of Uplands Cheese Company in Dodgeville, Wisconsin, was the first U.S. cheesemaker honored by the prestigious international Slow Food Award.
“In the past, people would come into the store and say they had visitors coming from France, so they would want to buy French cheese to impress them,” Edgar said of the customers he’s seen in 25 years. “Now if they have visitors, they want to buy American cheese to impress them, to show them how good American cheese is. That’s just a complete switch.” (VOA)
Khadi is no longer a dull, drab fabric meant only for politicians' wardrobes. A fashion show organised by the Khadi Gramodyog Board as part of the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav to mark the 75th year of India's Independence showcased the use of Khadi in traditional, as well as, contemporary and festive wear. From lehengas in resplendent Khadi silk to western clothes and casual wear, the models on Thursday night displayed new facts of the fabric.
Several well-known Indian designers including Ritu Beri, Farah Ansari, Rina Dhaka, Asma Husain, Aditi Rastogi and Himmat Singh showcased their designs. Gaurav Gaur directed the fashion show with clothes like lehengas, kurtis, kurta pajamas and partywear.
Lucknow's chikankari and silk artisans also participated in the event. A wedding collection in Khadi was the highlight of the show. "The show was based on the concept 'Khadi for nation, Khadi for fashion' and the fabric for all costumes was provided by Khadi Gramodyog Board," said a spokesman. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: lucknow, clothes, lehengas, fashion, fabric
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Intel saw its stock tumbling by more than 8 percent after the chipmaker said the industry-wide component shortage affected its PC chip business during the third quarter (Q3). Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger told CNBC late on Thursday that he didn't expect the semiconductor shortage to end until 2023. "We're in the worst of it now, every quarter, next year we'll get incrementally better, but they're not going to have supply-demand balance until 2023," Gelsinger was quoted as saying.
The company delivered its Q3 results with revenue up 5 percent (year-over-year) driven by strong demand in its DCG and IoTG businesses, despite the highly constrained industry-wide supply environment. "Q3 revenue was $18.1 billion slightly below our guide due to shipping and supply constraints that impacted our businesses," George S. Davis, Chief Financial Officer, said in a statement. He also announced plans to retire from Intel in May 2022. In the third quarter, the company generated $9.9 billion in cash from operations and paid dividends of $1.4 billion.
| Photo by Slejven Djurakovic on Unsplash
According to the company, the demand remains strong in its PC business with particular strength in commercial, desktop, and higher-end consumer notebooks. In an earnings call, Gelsinger said that the digitization of everything accelerated by the four superpowers of AI, pervasive connectivity, cloud to edge infrastructure, and ubiquitous compute are driving the sustained need for more semiconductors. "The market is expected to double to $1 trillion by 2030. In that timeframe, the market for leading-edge nodes will rise to be over 50 percent of the total, while the market for leading-edge foundry services will grow at twice the rate of the semi-industry overall," he envisioned.
PC demand remains very strong, and "We believe the 2021 TAM (total addressable market) will grow double digits even as ecosystem shortages constrain our customer's ability to ship finished systems," Gelsinger added. "Customers continue to choose Intel for their datacenter needs and our third-gen scalable Xeon processor Ice Lake has shipped over 1 million units since launching in April, and we expect to ship over 1 million units again in Q4 alone," he informed. (IANS/MBI)
Keywords: Intel, Chip, processor, Desktop, AI, Semiconductor, PC, Processor
Micro-blogging site Twitter has announced that its audio chatroom Spaces is now open to anyone who wants to host. The Spaces team in a tweet said that the users on both Android and iOS will now be able to host Spaces. "The time has arrived -- we're now rolling out the ability for everyone on iOS and Android to host a Space," the firm said in a tweet.
Earlier this year, the company had limited access to hosting Spaces to accounts with at least 600 followers, saying that it found these accounts would be more likely to have a good experience due to the existing audience. Twitter recently announced a new accelerator programme for creators on its audio conversation platform Spaces, to "discover and reward" around 150 creators with technical, financial and marketing support.
The 'Twitter Spaces Spark' programme is a three-month accelerator initiative. Those selected will get a stipend of $2,500 per month, $500 in monthly ad credits to spend promoting their Spaces on Twitter and early access to new Twitter features. They will also get support from Twitter's official social media handles, and "opportunities for prioritised in-app discoverability for well-performing Spaces".
Twitter has also announced plans to roll out paid Ticketed Spaces for iOS users where some hosts on its live audio feature can now sell access to Ticketed Spaces. Twitter had previously said that it will take a 3 per cent cut of creators' earnings from Ticketed Spaces. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: android, creators, ticketed, access, twitter, spaces