I was reminiscing on my changing relationship to American cheese, specifically yellow slices wrapped in plastic. Once, as an American kid, I ate my share of grilled cheese sandwiches and burgers. Later, as a supermarket dairy supervisor, I reset all the dairy cases in our company to give this product its maximum shelf space for sales and profit. Still later, as Murray's proprietor, I scorned it, dismissing it for all the usual reasons a cheesemonger might.
News broke on Sunday that 11 people, the youngest being a one year-old infant, had caught the E. coli bug from eating at Taco Bell restaurants in three different counties in New Jersey. Today, reports are revising that number to as many as 50 cases, spread over three states.
American cheese, a.k.a. process cheese, a.k.a. processed cheese, can be found all over the industrialized world now, but in a sense it is a distinctly American food, born of a culture obsessed with efficiency, scalability, and reliability, and without a distinctive gastronomic tradition to guide it. If you're like me you grew up eating the waxy, iridescent orange, individually plastic-wrapped slices of
File this under humanity's ongoing pursuit of hubris, the New Scientist is reporting that scientists in New Zealand have created cows that have been genetically modified to produce protein-rich milk for cheesemaking. The cows are basically given extra protein-making genes, and the milk that results is up to 20% more protein enriched. And because cheese is basically fat plus protein (in the form of casein), protein enriched milk will create a higher yield of cheese.
As much as I love cheese and other dairy products, I do recognize that even in the smallest of farmstead operations, a certain amount of cow exploitation occurs. Even if the cows are treated fantastically well, the simple process of milking is, at the very least, an imposition. Simply picture human women being milked
Australian Cooperative Foods is recalling their Cracker Barrel Extra Sharp 500g cheese due to fears of listeria contamination. Since this cheese is made from pasteurized milk, this outbreak should serve as further evidence that listeria is not just a problem for raw-milk cheeses, but is a larger problem for food safety in general. Read the full story here.
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The National Farmers Union, an organization formed to "sustain and strengthen family farms and ranch agriculture," has released a response to the FDA's proposal to change the definition of milk. Now the last time I checked, the definition of milk was pretty straightforward: "A whitish liquid containing proteins, fats, lactose, and various vitamins and minerals that is produced by the mammary glands of all mature female mammals after they have given birth and serves as nourishment for their young." The FDA, however, is proposing to amend the definition of milk, at least as it relates to cheese production. They want to provide for
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