Natural and sustainable food products have been growing in popularity, with one business southeast of Ottawa finding success making cheese thanks to trees.
At Fauxmagerie Zengarry in Alexandra, a weeklong process is underway to turn tiny bits of cashews into a wheel of creamy cheese.
“We use cashew-based milk instead of dairy-based milk so it’s a similar kind of process with fermentation, aging, flavouring and packaging,” said founder Lynda Turner.
Turner started the business out of her kitchen in 2013 after moving to a plant-based diet in 2010.
“Back then, there were not a lot option for plant-based cheeses, and cheese was something that I really missed,” Turner recalled. “So, I started experimenting with a lot of different recipes, using cashews in particular, I had some great success.
“I experimented with the fermentation process, learned to grow my own probiotics and then we organically kind of launched Fauxmagerie Zengarry and we’ve been growing across Canada ever since.”
Now she runs a full-blown business, employing 10 people and using all natural products.
“It’s a natural process, unlike a lot of other vegan cheeses. We really care about what we put into our product,” Turner said.
Being sustainable was also key, she noted, with the tagline ‘The Cheese That Grows on Trees’ popping up when visiting her website.
“Obviously cashew nuts grow on trees so it’s a kind of a fun way of thinking about how this is a more sustainable product. It grows on trees, it’s renewable and it’s just better for the planet,” she said.
Turner also grows all of the fresh herbs used in her cheeses in house, including parsley, basil, dill and rosemary.
Fauxmagerie Zengarry grows the herbs for its vegan cheese in-house. (Nate Vandermeer/CTV News Ottawa)
“Vegan food in particular is more sustainable than animal agriculture. Animal agriculture takes up a lot of water, a lot of land, a lot of carbon and it’s just not as sustainable for food systems.”
The result is a creamy cheese in texture, perfect for wine tasting or charcuterie boards.
And when she says success, she means it.
“We have our Creamy Swiss Cheese that last year was voted the best vegan Swiss in the world,” Turner said with a smile.
“We were one of the first companies in Canada to start making cashew cheese. There are a few others now I would say maybe five or six total brands that