The American Cheese Society annual conference began today in Sacramento.
Some cheese fans boarded a bus in San Francisco at 7 a.m. to make a nine-hour trip to Sacramento for the American Cheese Society's annual conference. At least three stops at cheese-related businesses run by women were on the itinerary. The afternoon and evening events include two different receptions and a pub crawl.
Greg O'Neill is the American Cheese Society president. He says Sacramento is the perfect place to hold a cheese conference.
"Within driving distance, many many of our producers are here. The cheese-loving public is right in our backyard as well," O'Neill says. "So, we have a really big, embedded base of our membership. It's also a place that has the culture that appreciates what we do."
The conference takes place primarily at the Sacramento Convention Center, with other activities planned throughout the city. Cheese rinds, food safety and packaging are a just a few of the items on the menu for the week's events.
One of the meetings will introduce cheese mongers to the Food and Drug Administration. Nora Weiser is the American Cheese Society executive director. She says cheese mongers and the FDA recently learned how little each knew about the other when a centuries-old practice of wood-aging was temporarily banned by the federal agency.
"This is a growing industry in the U.S., you know artisan, farmstead, specialty cheese. And there's not necessarily the understanding back and forth that we would like to see."
There will be a cheese tasting Friday and a cheese sale Saturday for the public.
This is the first year the Cheese Society has held its annual conference in Sacramento. Previous conferences have been held in North Carolina, Wisconsin and Montreal.
About 900 people are registered for this year's conference.