AUTHOR’S NOTE (4/11/2023): I wrote this blog post over a decade ago. Since then, I’ve started illustrating a story about a little mouse who is searching for her own cheese. You can read the first chapter for FREE right here.
Mr. Wetzel and I love cheese, and we also love a good bargain. This post gives a price comparison for the different cheeses available at our local Costco, and I also have some research to share with you on some of the cheddars available there.
The more I researched the cheeses available at Costco, the more I asked myself if an obsession with raw milk and natural, high quality cheeses is a designation needed solely for American creameries. It seems European creameries don’t care at all about marketing rBST free cheese. It is hard to find them boast of how much pasture their cows graze in. And forget about talk of organic or natural products.
American cheeses are a different story entirely. One look at a product page for Yancy’s Fancy cheeses, and you’re bombarded with stamps on each cheese package touting rBST free cheese. In America, we have to designate our cheeses as natural. Cheesemongers go to great lengths to let cheese lovers know they are local, small, artisan and care about the quality of their goods.
It leaves me wondering if the standard in America is over-industrialization, and if the standard in Europe is locally sourced, carefully crafted, artisan cheeses. In the USA, the bigger the brand, typically it is a sign of decreased cheese quality. Is this also the case in Europe? I will keep digging! For now, this is what I have uncovered:
We Love Beecher’s Cheddar Cheese!
Maybe it’s because Beecher’s is a Washington creamery, and we live 45 minutes away from their home base at Pike Place Market in Seattle. My favorite aspect of Beecher’s cheese is going to their cheese shop and eating fresh cheese curds. In their cheese case, there are dozens of cheeses from Washington and Oregon state creameries. Not only do they make great cheese, they respect it, seem it out, and share it with others.
The three types of Beecher’s available at Costco are:
– No woman cheese
– Marco Polo
– Flagship, 1 year aged
Facts from Beecher’s website:
All Beecher’s products have no rBST added – made exclusively from the milk from a single, local herd of untreated cows. (link)
No raw milk cheese. Beecher’s butter and cheese are made from pasteurized milk.
Beecher’s has a commitment to pure, fully-flavored food, and educating others about pure food (link). How could I expect any less from a Seattle cheesemonger than to be an educating activist? So fitting!
We Love Yancy’s Fancy Cheddar!
The first time Mr. Wetzel and I tasted Yancy’s cheese was at the cheese festival in Pike Place Market, held once a year. After tasting dozens of free cheese samples, Yancy’s was one of our favorites, and one of the only cheeses we took home with us at the end of the day.
I was thrilled to find this cheddar at Costco. Yancy’s is a small creamery in upstate New York. Their cheeses are rBST free. Their cows are grass-fed; according to the website, Yancy’s is dedicated to “utilizing local milk supply, which offers some of the highest quality milk in the United States” (link).
In addition, Yancy’s uses raw milk in their cheeses, where permitted by USA laws (in three of their sharp cheeses, link). That’s right: you can actually buy a delicious, artisan, raw milk cheese from your local Costco superstore. Amazing!
The three Yancy’s cheeses available at Costco are:
– XX-Sharp ‘Ol Timer Tackle Box “Chedda” – all natural raw milk cheese
– Jalapeno & Peppadew
– Smoked Gouda
Who doesn’t love Kerrygold?!
I see it in blogs and I hear it from my friends: Kerrygold is a real winner. So, I want to include it in my list; however, I haven’t had it in a while. I keep buying other artisan brands. Kerrygold Dubliner cheddar is available at Costco.
Is the cheese made with raw milk? I don’t know. Is it rBST free? I can’t figure it out. Natural? Organic? No mention to be found. On their site, Kerrygold boasts, “We rely on a cooperative of small dairy farmers with centuries of cheese-making traditions to turn the rich, sweet milk that is produced into the finest cheese and butter in the world.” (link)
We Love Tillamook Cheddar!
Seriously. I know Tillamook is a big producer. They aren’t considered an artisan cheese company. But compared to other big companies, they do a lot right. And, If the budget is tight, a block of Tillamook can stretch a lot father than a wedge of another, higher quality brand.
Plus, it tastes good.
A lot of good details about Tillamook cow care can be found on their site. Here are the basics:
– The cows are not given artificial growth hormones.
– Tillamook does not require that their cows be pastured, but it is typical for cows to be let out to pasture during warm weather months (March through November)
– Antibiotics are only used when a cow gets sick and needs medical care, which sounds like an uncommon occurrence.
Here’s a chart of the cheeses currently available at our local Costco, along with their prices, followed by pictures of the cheeses. If you have questions or comments, or extra info on Costco cheeses, I invite you to please comment below!
A Story For Cheese Lovers
Do you like cheese? Then you’ll LOVE my children’s story:
Calico Jill and the Search For Cheese!
They sell the Beecher’s No Woman cheese at our grocery here in Searcy! I’ve always wanted to try it, and now that I know how awesome the company is, I definitely will!
I’m not seeing the ‘tackle box’ cheddar at the Yancey website, nor am I seeing anything at their website regarding grass fed milk.
It was awhile ago that I found these cheeses at Costco. ^_^ Perhaps Yancy’s has changed their selections in the past couple years?
Costco infrequently has Yancy ‘s Fancy Horseradish cheese – it is delicious. How can we get Costco to place it in their Santa Barbara store?
Have you encountered a balsamic vinegar rubbed cheddar? Served some yesterday for Thanksgiving and it was fabulous. Unfortunately label went out with trash and I couldn’t find it at my Costco tonight. Can you help with name? Thank you.
Mike – I sent your question to a friend of mine who works for Costco. This was his reply:
Not off the top of my head, but I did some searching on the interwebs and found this:
Costco does carry this brand from time to time, but I don’t think this is a cheddar. I think this is a parmesan.
Furthermore, I cant find a balsamic cheddar anywhere online, so I’m wondering if this is his product.
If he has any questions for Costco, he can go straight to membership or one of the front end managers (they wear red vests and are NOT in the TV department) and just ask them. They can do a search for a balsamic cheese and probably find it, find out if it’s in stock, or if/when it’s coming back.
I’ll be looking for this product when I get back to work on Sunday for sure! It sounds really delicious.
rBST has been banned in Europe since 2001.
we bought a cheese in Naples Fl. it was in a green wax and was a soft white cheese, it was out of this world. Do you know the name of the product. Maybe a Champaigne name? Thank you. Marcia
It might be Yancy’s Champagne Cheddar http://www.yanceysfancy.com/flavored-cheeses
I know a lot about cheeses. I have reversed my osteoporosis by eating grass fed dairy and meat.
European cheeses don’t brag about being organic BECAUSE they have such strict, traditional regulations that have been in place for many years. If it’s a cheese name you recognize, e.g., Camembert, Gouda, Brie, Gruyère, etc., AND it’s from Europe (not the US) it will be grass fed and from particular grass areas. Being grass fed is more important than organic as far as nutrition is concerned. You’re after the K2 and omega3 that only comes from grass fed. This tells the calcium to go into your bones and teeth and NOT your soft tissue, i.e., arteries.
Roquefort can’t be called that unless the sheep are on a certain pasture and the cheese aged in certain caves. Very strict. They don’t have to brag. They take it very seriously.
I used to eat a lot of Tillamook, too, until I checked them out on the Cornucopia website that rates dairy. Not grass fed. Organic could mean organic corn, soy, other grains. Ruminants were not designed to eat grain.
It’s a long story, not very well known by American consumers, sadly. When you research it, you’ll be convinced that grass fed, organic or not, is far superior for health.
K2 info can be found on the Weston Price website. His research was only validated about K2 in 2006 by the govt. The US dairy and meat industry doesn’t want the public to know this. It would change their profit margin and change the entire industry.
Cheers. Love your blog. Xxoo from Santa Barbara
P.S. grass fed has no meaning, yet, on packaging and promotional material. If a grass fed animal is confined and fed sileage or (worse) grain, the K2 and omega 3 goes away pretty rapidly. The USDA has yet to define grass fed in conjunction with the organic industry.
“An important thing to mention when it comes to cheese (because this becomes an area of confusion), [is that] because cheese is a bacterial derived form of vitamin K2, it actually doesn’t matter if the cheese came from grass-fed milk. That would be nice, but it’s not the milk that went into the cheese that makes the K2. It’s the bacteria making the cheese, which means it doesn’t matter if you’re importing your brie from France or getting it domestically. Brie cheese, the bacteria that makes brie cheese, will make vitamin K2,” she says.
Not entirely true. Only Gouda cheese has an enzyme that creates a large percentage of K2 and doesn’t need grass fed dairy to do this. Swiss and some hard cheeses do so to a lesser extent. Ruminants eating young, green grass produce the most K2 in their milk. Only natto has a higher content, and there’s debate on whether it’s the best form of K2 for human health benefit.
Read up on this at the Weston Price website. He’s a dentist that traveled and was amazed by the healthy teeth and gums of indigenous people who had no dental care. He discovered “factor x” that wasn’t recognized and named vitamin K2 until much later.
I am Canadian and used to buy a Jalapena infused cheese.It disappeared and I have asked employees why. I was told it only appears at holidays or it wasn’t selling.
Can anyone help me out?