Provide the best assortment of American artisan cheeses, connect communities to the source of their food and the farmers that grow it, and offer delicious, honest food in a casual setting.
SUPPORTING SMALL AMERICAN PRODUCERS
Our guiding mission is to build connections with the people who make our food, educate our customers about where their food comes from, and help small producers thrive. A lot of artisan cheesemakers are still taking care of all parts of the supply chain, including animal husbandry, milking, cheesemaking, affinage, packaging, and sales at farmers markets or small groceries. It's our goal to take care of the customer-facing part of their job, making sure good American cheese finds a caring, educated consumer, so that cheesemakers can focus on what they do best: make delicious cheese!
We work with farmers & cheesemakers that care for their land and animals with extreme passion, to ensure the health of the environment and their industry remains healthy and productive for generations to come. Below, we showcase just a few of the makers we work with that are doing amazing work.
EQUITABLE & ENGAGING WORKPLACE
The foodservice industry is hard work and, frankly, due to the low margins of this industry, we can't pay our team the wages we think they deserve. That said, we work tirelessly to ensure that Mission Cheese is an attractive, rewarding, and enjoyable place to work — here are a few examples how.
Open Book Management
We believe, actually we know, that access to information is the baseline for equitable opportunity in the workplace. We put this into action by running our finances with a completely open book, tracking and sharing financial information (revenue, expenses, profit, etc) with all employees on a weekly basis. The team uses this information to help track its financial performance, as well environmental goals and customer and employee satisfaction. Through open book management, we provide our staff with the opportunity to be fully engaged in company decision-making and to learn what it takes to run a small business.
When we beat our operating profit goals, everybody wins. We celebrate financial success by sharing 35% of all excess profits amongst the Mission Cheese team, providing our team with a clear reason to be invested in our success and a financial goal around which to unite.
Somebody once said, "In this industry, you don't get to be a millionaire, but you do get to live like one." At Mission Cheese, we eat, drink, and explore the tastiest parts of life like it's our job. We also explore what's behind these flavors. Every month or two the team visits a local creamery, winery, or brewery. This not only helps us learn more about the people who make our products and the places they come from, but allows us to spend time together outside of work in the beautiful surrounds of Northern California. Oh...and our annual whitewater rafting trip is probably worthy of a mention too.
We are environmental sustainability geeks and take this concept very seriously. Below are a few of the areas that we think about — we hope to expand our focus on related data and reporting as we grow.
Food waste is one of the hottest environmental topics of our time, for reasons related to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions along the supply chain as well as for social justice purposes. We track food waste and report it at our weekly meetings, so that we can adjust orders accordingly and take action to keep food waste low. Because we serve most of our cheese on cheese flights, which we change daily, we can rotate our inventory in a timely fashion, getting the cheese to patrons when it’s at its best, and reducing cheese waste to nearly zero.
We also focus on right-sized portions to reduce customer food waste to negligible levels, and are constantly looking for creative ways to re-purpose food that would otherwise be wasted: bread heels into breadcrumbs to top our mac and cheese; toasted day-old baguettes for our Alotta Burrata Sandwich; misfired food saved for staff meals.
Zero Waste Goals
We are highly aware that the foodservice industry tends to be very wasteful, and we make all our service decisions with this in mind. We don't provide a customer-facing trash can because we don’t serve anything that belongs in the landfill. All of our to-go containers are compostable or recyclable, cloth napkins are used for dine-in patrons, and we downcycle old linens for cleaning purposes. In an average day, we produce only 5-15 lbs of landfill garbage, a statistic we are very proud of. Still, we do have goals of getting closer to zero waste and will continue to work toward this.
We recognize that cheese, like every other thing that we put in our bodies, has a GHG footprint. It is often reported that cheese falls lower than beef and lamb, but higher than chicken toward the top of the GHG per calorie intensity list. If someone chooses not to eat cheese for this reason, that is their prerogative, but it should be noted that these studies are done using data from mass produced, factory farming operations, which are more industrially-intensive and have been documented to be more environmental detrimental than smaller, responsible-managed, organic farms and dairies.
If you look at the supply chain of cheese, it includes these components:
- Crop production for feed
- Milk production
- Transportation of milk to processing facility
- Transportation to retail outlet
- Retail outlet
- Consumption & disposal
The largest source of GHG in the supply chain is in the first two stages, crop production and milk production, both related to the rearing of the milking animal. This is the also the stage at which there is the largest difference between small and large creameries. At Mission Cheese, we buy most of our cheese from farms that are either organic (even if some of the farms aren't certified, due to prohibitive cost and lack of time) or very close to it. This means that our cheeses possess a minimal footprint related to the production, transport, or application of fertilizer. Additionally, there is mounting scientific evidence that animals that are not treated regularly with antibiotics have a smaller carbon footprint due to decreased methane from their dung and burps (link here). Further, in the artisan cheese industry we celebrate the difference in flavor and complexity between cheese made from pastured milk versus cheese from grain-fed milk, giving small cheesemakers a clear incentive to farm for healthy grass, a tactic that creates rich, complex soils that can act as a carbon sink (check out the work of Kiss the Ground).
Emissions from the processing and packaging components are also lower, as much of the work is done by hand rather than fossil fuel driven machinery. And the same for distribution of small production farms, as we buy a notable portion of our cheese and other ingredients from the Bay Area, reducing emissions from transportation.
In summary, if you are going to eat cheese, it is better for the environment for you to eat cheeses that are responsibly produced, from milk of pastured animals, that is not heavily processed, and that doesn't travel across oceans. In other words, if you're going to eat cheese, you should do it at Mission Cheese :-)