“WHERE’S THE CHEESE?”
November 6, 2010 § 1 Comment
That was the catchphrase that would be spoken every single day by Peter Russell Clarke, maybe the first celebrity chef on television in Australian history. He had a 5-minute show that would come on right before the nightly news, featuring simple dishes that always involved the use of some kind of cheese.
That was a long time ago. Back in those days, two factors were existent that no longer are in play.
Number 1: we were consuming about a third the amount of cheese that we are today.
Number 2: the cheese we used to eat was not, taken as a whole, crap.
We have become obsessed with cheese. Let me correct myself: the vast majority of us have become obsessed, namely those who eat fast food several times a week and have no sense of what it is to maintain a healthy diet. As I said, the vast majority.
A New York times article today reports that a marketing creation of the Department of Agriculture – as in our Government – named ‘Dairy Management’ (read ‘Dairy Promotion’) is trying to encourage Americans to consume more dairy- mainly through the consumption of greater amounts of cheese.
Clearly the brontosaurus-sized mounds of cheese the average American already devours is not enough. The number currently stands at 33.
I equate what has happened with cheese in our society to the phenomenon that is our obsession with soda.
When did it become normal to have dessert before dessert? Because calorically-speaking (a tremendous piece of illiteration by the writer- all that cheese is addling my brain), one can of Coke is a dessert, folks. As is a Starbucks Mocha-Bad Karma- Al Pacino blended thing. Or a “health” bar that is jammed packed full of sugar.
It is no different with cheese. That’s why, at some restaurants (I’m not thinking McDonalds or KFC), menus have what is called a “cheese plate”. It is a recognition of the fact that good quality cheese can be enjoyed in its proper quantities and not be a health risk. A few small pieces with some apple and good bread. Fine.
But that’s not what most of us are eating. What the hell is “string” cheese? Does it come from cows made of string? Does it relate to anti-matter and the energetic binding of the cosmos? No, wait… that’s string theory. Maybe we should get the scientists working on that to move over to a new assignment: that of getting people to stop eating tons of factory-made shit that is bad for them.
Cheese is, to use a favourite word of Snoop Dogg, ubiquitous. On our sandwiches. On our pizza. Slathered over our meals as a sauce. In our burritos. Packed with chemicals and wrapped in plastic, to be consumed (with or without the plastic – it’s all one) by itself. We have re-imagined the Universe: it is now a place where cheese sits alongside fruits, vegetables and other naturally occurring foods; it just happens, folks. In all its varied, colourful forms. So we may as well eat the stuff.
What the frizzoli is the Government doing promoting a food that really, when it’s all said and done, is not very good for us? Yet another shining example of how monied interests have infected public institutions that were supposed to be designed to help us. I’m not going to get into the argument of whether dairy has health benefits or not- I have my opinions, but the bottom line here is that I’m just not qualified to enter an educated one. What I will repeat is that processed cheese is crap, and we need to stop eating so much of it.
I have friends and relatives who feed their very young children a lot of Mac ‘n Cheese. I capitalize and colloquialize the words because that thing that those kids are eating is not food. Bleached white flour combined with chemically enhanced, processed dairy matter is not a meal. It is playdough for the mouth. It is a barely-edible toy. And it should be treated as such.
I’m not sure what the solution is. I always like to leave my readers on a positive note, with ideas for possible forward movement on a given issue. This one might be too big. The entire continent may one day simply sink back into the abyssal waters, weighed down by all the cheese. Sharks, dolphins and tuna will become obese, and begin to create underwater parking lots on which they can tailgate. Whales will open dairy farms, using cows rigged up with scuba gear. Earth itself will turn into a massive cheese ball, and as the Sun begins to encroach two billion years from now, that cheese ball will become beautifully crisped on the outside, like the blissfully prepared top layer of an onion soup.
Okay. Solution. Give your kid a carrot as a snack, and feed them food that can’t sit on a shelf at room temperature for four hundred years. Stop telling yourself and everyone you know that you need eight ounces of calcium every day, and start reading up on exactly how much of the stuff our bodies are able to pull from dairy, anyway. Enough with the idea that milk is “good” for you. It’s very much an arguable point at this stage.
And finally, stop telling people to say “cheese” when you take their picture.
“Fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds and sprouted grains, together with lean meats and wild fish” works just as well.
Picture: String ‘cheese’…. the beginning of the end.