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Saturday: Leave Cheese Alone!!

Warning: This tartiflette could kill you. Extreme caution advised

The FDA is considering new rules for cheese. The 60 day aging rule was simply not enough to completely remove all subtlety and flavor from cheese.  No, it’s not enough that buying raw milk cheese in this country is like trying to score good thai stick these days (not that I would know anything about that.  I’ve just heard rumors.).

Who is running this country??  Is it the insurance companies and class action lawyers?  For millenium, the French have been able to eat lovely, tart and grainy cheeses aged in caves with all of the microbes that attend the maturation process and no one says boo over there to a little extra flavor.  But tracking down a smelly and delicious Reblochon cheese in this country is like trying to find the Ivory Bill Woodpecker.  You hear about such things but when you actually go to buy it, you find that it’s really a Reblochon made for the American market where the sucker has been pasteurized and aged within an inch of its life.  In fact, it’s NOT alive.  It lacks the dirty toe smell, the “Oooo, *that* smells interesting” aroma.  Melting a “processed for YOUR protection” Reblochon on a tartiflette, well, you might as well have bought a cheap wheel of brie.

Look, I’m all for safety.  And so are the French.  So, if they can enjoy cheese in its natural state, why can’t we?  Why not package it up like a box of cigarettes with a ton of warning labels for pregnant women and children under the age of 2 and anyone with a weakened immune system?  Don’t reduce the entire American cheese market to stuff that tastes like Velveeta and CrackerBarrel.  In fact, it’s really unfair that you can buy cigarettes and smoke yourself silly into a nice case of small cell carcinoma, a well known, provable effect of smoking tobacco, but you can’t buy a raw milk cheese that Europeans gulp down on a daily basis without ill effects because *someone*, *somewhere* might get a case of e coli, which many of us get all of the time from various sources.  E coli was found in a crop of scallions several years ago, but did we ban all green onions?

What’s really behind the move to protect us from enjoying even the simplest pleasures of life?  Are there really so many mothers out there who can’t read a label on a package of raw milk cheeses that we have to prevent the entire 300 million of us from enjoying them?  If that’s the case, we need to improve our literacy skills.  Or are we just beholden to the insurance industry who is interested in keeping lawsuits to a minimum?  Lets get the profit motive out of the insurance industry and class action lawsuit business so we can enjoy  extremely dangerous things again like cheese, playground equipment and antibiotics.  Find out what French safety standards are, copy them religiously, label the damn things and let us eat at our own risk.

This is one rule the FDA should be relaxing, not tightening up.

27 Responses

  1. Nice rant and I completely agree!

    • Isn’t this beyond stupid?? It has to be the insurance industry behind this. They don’t want to pay out for any risk. And Americans are lawsuit happy.
      funny, I’ve worked with ecoli. If anyone should be worried about contracting something unpleasant, it’s those of us in the labs playing with recombinant genes and e coli. You don’t see us freaking out over a smelly cheese.

  2. “They” have been attempting to ban raw milk in many states for some time; it is illegal in a few states now. Here’s a link: http://www.realmilk.com/happening.html

    Raw almonds have also been banned; even though you might buy them labeled “raw almonds”, they have been pasteurized; some with carcinogenic chemicals.

    So nice that our government is taking such good care of us.

    • Actually, they have not been attempting to make it [raw milk] illegal. It has been illegal for some time and activists are working on getting it legal everywhere. Only 10 states allow it to be sold in a retail venue. Some of the worse states are those with a large Big Dairy presence. See this map.

      Raw milk is legal in CT and I can walk into a retail store (albeit a natural foods market) and buy it. In NY, you have to go to the farm. It’s illegal in NJ and there’s a big black market with the Amish in PA and raw milk drinkers in NJ.

  3. Don’t reduce the entire American cheese market to stuff that tastes like Velveeta and CrackerBarrel.

    Bingo! It must be the few American cheese producers that are behind the safe cheese campaign at the FDA. We’ll be forced to eat velveeta (ugh) whether we like it or not.

  4. You mean Americans do know how to make cheese?

    Lol, just kidding, but I remember, when I first moved to the US, buying – as cheese – this orange stuff! Sliced! Every piece wrapped separately! Tasting of absolutely nothing. We always referred to it as rubber cheese (gummi-ost).

    So cheese was soon added to the list of ‘things -we -find -it -hard -to -live -without’, that friends were asked to bring from back home, when they came visiting.

    (Another thing on that list was strong ammonia licorice! Ummm! I’m sure the FDA would never allow that to be produced in the States. But then I never met an American who could stomach it anyway, so … 🙂 )

    • Yeah, I’m not a fan of licorice. If the FDA banned it, any kind, I probably wouldn’t cry too hard.

      But this cheese thing just defies reason. Pretty soon, we’ll be eating nothing but tasteless sterilized food gels and be required to leave the house only clad in bubble wrap. The safety requirements thing is getting to be ridiculous. My homeowners insurance company once threatened to terminate my policy because of a crack in my driveway surrounding a municipal utilities access cover. It was just a crack. The driveway was not uneven, nothing was crumbling and there was no sign of structural instability. It was Just. A. Crack.
      Insurance company said someone could trip and have a fatal accident. Really?? For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how that could happen and I have a pretty vivid imagination.
      Anyways, it was potentially going to cost me between $850 and $3000 to fix it, depending on the quote I got. For a crack. Just filling it in with Quickcrete wasn’t going to be enough for the insurance company. They wanted the whole shebang dug up and repaved. I had just bought the house and didn’t have the money for that nonsense. Fortunately, it turned out not to be my responsibility. Because it was caused by the utilities cover, I wasn’t allowed to touch it. The municipality had to do it.
      Still stupid IMHO. The insurance co said nothing about the giant tree next to the house or the lack of a spark arrestor on the chimney (since installed).
      The crack was all they saw.

  5. I can’t believe how much our government has changed in just a few short decades. They stick their noses in EVERYTHING while not accomplishing ANYTHING useful. They meddle in people’s bedrooms, their kitchens, their everything. It’s gotten way past sickening. And you are so RIGHT, it’s all about lobbyists.

    Now they are meddling into the E Cig market, because they found out that smokers enjoy getting their nicotine without smelling like an ashtray, yellowing their own walls and being treated like pariahs wherever they go. I know several smokers who switched to them. Now the tobacco industry, oh excuse me, I mean the FDA wants to “regulate” them. They ran tests on some of the brands and found a chemical that’s in antifreeze! Whoa! That’s bad for sure! Too bad it’s also in cigarettes, but it sure scared the crap out of E Cig users. The truth is, the tobacco industry doesn’t like this one bit, and in tandem, neither does the government, because they have taxed the crap out of cigarettes. So now if they make a law giving it to FDA regulations,, why they can tax E Cigs just like they tax tobacco. More Money to waste! Yum! I feel sorry for the people using ecigs. They are trying to find a way not to offend while still being addicted. Now the government will make sure they get skinned for it. Hey, I’m sure it’s not good for them to use ecigs, but it can’t be worse than Ten dollar a pack cigarettes. I am a longtime ex smoker but I still feel sorry for smokers, because the war on them was the start of all this meddling into people’s lives. It was the test case. Now they and their lobbyists can do ANYTHING and call it for “The Public Good”. Even make it so you can’t get the goddamned CHEESE you want!

    • It’s corporate government. The same corporations that pretends the government over-regulates, has no problem regulating everything if it’s in their interest.

      • You are correct–the FDA is Big Ag. Talk about your revolving doors.

        • I’m betting on the insurance industry, not big ag. Raw milk cheeses are no threat to big ag. The threat comes from everyone and their brother filing a lawsuit whenever they get sick.

      • Huh?? I don’t think this has anything to do with corporate government.
        Could we please stop blaming corporations for absolutely everything? Because they may not be the source of ev every problem and we will miss an opportunity to identify the real culprit.

        • With all due respect, I have been following this for some time. I invite you to take a look at the CVs of the FDA folk.

          Lawyers and insurance companies are not innocent, but they are not the primary movers in this issue.

          • I banned buzzwords a couple weeks ago. Corporatist and corporation are convenient buzzwords for nebulos evil business people but those two term have been co-opted by the left and obscure who is really at fault, namely, the rule makers.
            Sometimes, people forget that many, many Americans work fr corporations. Indeed, you can’t get a lot of stuff done unless you are a corporation with a lot of internally cooperating moving parts. This is something even the MBAs forget sometimes. You can’t outsource everything, no matter how much you think you can. But I digress.
            My point is that the term corporate is taking the place of careful thought. It short circuits the analytical process and makes threads sound echoey and stupid. Everyone just nods their heads in agreement without any additional thought.
            And no, I don’t think the FDA is working on behalf of corporations. If that were the case, a lot more pharmaceuticals would be getting approval and that is demonstrably NOT the case.
            Sometimes, it really isn’t malice. It’s stupidity.

  6. I totally agree with this post – Riverdaughter! I’m always shocked when I go to what looks like a well-stocked cheese department and find that it’s nothing of the kind.

  7. Velveeta, Cheez Whiz, and American cheese (the yellow or white sliced stuff) are not cheese. They are “cheese products,” whatever that means.

  8. Come to Paris and I’ll take you to my favorite neighborhood bistro, Astier, where after the meal they plunk down at your table a communal platter loaded with a dozen delightful smelly cheeses for you to serve yourself and enjoy! Unheard of in the U.S.

  9. Hey, I like swiss cheese, so I’m still good. = )

  10. Wow. Thai sticks. What a wonderful flashback.

    • Shhh, I’m not supposed to know about such things. Actually, they’re just a legend, I think. Like Shangrila.
      Or, they became extinct, like dodo birds. Once I Thoth I smelled one when I was in college but it was probably just a dream.

  11. I used to be able to buy heavy cream. Now, I have to buy pasteurized heavy cream and it doesn’t cook or taste the same.
    Can there be a store for people who are willing to take tiny risks for taste?
    I’d be happy to sign a waiver.

    • Not in NJ there isn’t. You have to check the rules state by state. But they certainly make it difficult to buy the raw stuff whether you are a high risk daredevil type or not.
      Funny how they make eating a raw milk cheese roughly the equivalent of jumping the grand canyon on a motorcycle but you can smoke yourself silly and no one gives a shit.

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