According to the UK publication, The Telegraph, “The country is facing a cheese glut. Despite cheeseburgers and oozing deep-dish pizza being two defining culinary exports of the country, they still have so much delicious dairy product they can’t eat it all. U.S. dairy farmers boosted production in recent years because of soaring dairy prices. However, the relatively strong dollar means they haven’t had as many cheese exports as expected. Now, the country has more cheese than it knows what to do with.”
The truth is that rising cheese consumption has kept the dairy industry afloat for almost two decades–compensating for the fall in milk consumption.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the cheese glut is so big that every person in the country would need to eat an extra three pounds this year to get through it—that translates to 900,000,000 surplus pounds of cheese. Hard cheese like cheddar can be frozen and kept for many years—but what is the U.S. going to do with all that cheese?
Those of you old enough to remember may recall the “butter mountain” in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Coinciding with the push to get all Americans to use margarine instead of the real thing, the U.S. found itself with a huge surplus of butter. The government took the reasonable action of donating a large portion of the stockpiled butter to school lunch programs. At the time I had a friend who worked in a school cafeteria who told me that for several years all the cookies and other baked goods were made with real butter.
Fast forward to today—wouldn’t it be common sense to give the surplus cheese to the school lunch program?
Unfortunately, U.S. government policy decrees that school children may not have nutritious food like whole milk or butter—and certainly not something as nutrient-dense as cheese. Based on the faulty premise that saturated fat and cholesterol in cheese will cause heart disease in young people, Linda Van Horn, head of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Committee specifically singled out cheese as unhealthy. Margo Wootan, nutrition policy director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) expressed concern with the “insistence on natural, local ingredients. . . You can have full-fat cheese from a local farmer, but it’s still going to clog your arteries and give you heart disease. Having the food be natural is nice, but a bigger threat to children’s health is making sure that there’s not too much salt and not too much saturated fat.”
Prisoners are another group that could benefit from all that cheese. In many prisons today, inmates get a diet that is 70 percent soy, a diet they refer to as “chemical castration.” The suffering from the side effects of soy—especially digestive disorders and thyroid disease—is very great.
We sell our cheese at the Annapolis farmers market and occasionally someone will come along and say, “I’d love to eat your cheese, but my cardiologist would kill me.”
The correct answer to that statement is: “Eat cheese and you can attend your cardiologist’s funeral!”
That’s because cheese—especially aged cheese like cheddar–is the best source of vitamin K in the western diet. As recent research has shown, vitamin K is what prevents calcium from building up in the arteries—and it is calcium that mostly constitutes the plaque, not cholesterol or saturated fat. Cheese is also a great source of calcium, phosphorus, B vitamins including B12, vitamin A, vitamin D and important fats like arachidonic acid. Since it is fermented, cheese also has probiotic properties. In fact, cheese is a complete food, one that would sustain you if it were the only food you had on a desert island. . . or in prison.
Of course, raw artisan cheese from pasture-fed cows will be richer in all these nutrients, but even so, conventional cheese is far more nutritious than the stuff they are serving in school lunches. And the milk in cheese is usually full-fat and merely pasteurized, not ultrapasteurized. (Ultrapasteurized milk is so dead that you can’t ferment it into cheese.) Plus, it’s tasty and satisfying—something almost all children will eat.
Unfortunately, the cholesterol theory of heart disease has supplanted all common sense, and our school children will go without benefiting from the glut of cheese.
No other organization has done more to educate the public on the flaws in the cholesterol theory of heart disease and the real causes of heart disease than the Weston A. Price Foundation. Your membership supports the Foundation’s work to return nutrient-dense foods like butter, whole milk and cheese to American tables. Not a member yet? Please join today!