Reichert’s Dairy Air might be the smallest dairy in Iowa, but owner Lois Reichert’s award-winning goat cheese can be found in restaurants from Chicago to Las Vegas.
After ten years of raising goats for fun on her farm in Knoxville, Iowa, Reichert saw that her day-job was undergoing changes and she started making new plans for herself. Reichert began taking the steps to build a dairy and by 2007 Reichert’s Dairy Air became a licensed dairy and cheese plant.
Reichert sells her cheese to multiple high-end restaurants in Chicago through a distributor, but she has had trouble getting her product into local restaurants in Des Moines. Though Reichert’s cheese is regularly on the menu at Bistro Montage, she believes she has had difficulty forming relationships with other chefs mostly because of the price.
“Most chefs are not willing to pay even my break-even price,” Reichert says. “Small scale food costs more to produce, so they have to be committed to eating local.”
In Chicago, Reichert’s cheese is sold as a unique, artisanal product, but she has struggled to drum up the same respect for her cheese in Iowa.
“This is just my opinion, but I also wonder a little if there is a ‘well it’s from Iowa so it can’t be that great’ mentality among chefs,” Reichert says of Des Moines chefs. “In spite of a multitude of national awards and recognition, they seem to think there is nothing unique about my product.”
While she has run into problems getting her cheese into restaurants, Reichert is nowhere near giving up. She continues to sell her cheese across the country and at Iowa farmers markets and coops.
“I believe in local food,” Reichert says. “I want to make it available because I believe in my product, and the ethics of the way my product is made.”