Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Billions of Pounds of Cheese are about to go to Waste

Stop the presses. We need to eat cheese. Like, all of it. Now.

In case you haven't heard, America is in the middle of a pretty major cheese surplus.
American cheese inventories (not to be confused with "American Cheese") have reached a 30-year high, with more than 1 billion pounds of the stuff sitting uneaten on shelves across the country. Put another way: That's a lot of freaking cheese.
Clearly it is our shared duty as responsible U.S. citizens to step up our cheese consumption for the sake of this great nation we call home.

You're probably wondering how something as wonderful as cheese could have excess — especially since you're already eating around 34 pounds per year all by yourself. (Don't worry. So are the rest of us.)

Let's start here: cheese consumption in America has been on the rise for years. Meanwhile, global dairy production is also skyrocketing.

So if there's high demand and plentiful supplies, why did the price of cheddar just hit a five-year low?

It turns out that since cheese takes a while to make — thanks to the aging process that makes it so delicious — the cheese industry has to try to predict demand for the future, years ahead of time, in hopes that the prices all balance out in the end.

But there was one thing they couldn't anticipate.

You see, all that cheese we're munching on? More than half of it is locally sourced, while another major chunk is shipping in from overseas.

Thanks in part to the lousy value of the euro (and the aforementioned milk abundance), European cheeses are cheaper than ever — so we're buying a whole lot more. After all, why would someone buy a familiar domestic brand like Kraft when they can buy a fancy French thing? 

And those who don't want to splurge on the surprisingly affordable foreign options? They're showing a surprisingly serious preference for sustainable local options.

This is all great for the cheese consumer and the local economy. But not so much for the large U.S. cheese-makers.

Which is why they're now saddled with warehouses full of curds they produced based on previously predicted market trends.

So for the sake of delicious string cheese, we all need to step up our game. 

I know it might be challenging to do — if for no other reason than that I am definitely one of those self-centered jerks who prefers their cheese (and everything else) to be as locally-sourced as possible — much to the chagrin of those major manufacturers who bear that great burden of abundant cheesery. 

But even if you don't feel bad for Big Cheese, just think of all the food that's going to waste. For that reason, I implore you to secede to the depravity of your selfless, cheese-eating impulses and eat it to your heart's content.

Feel free to buy up that cheese in every form you can find it! Add it to your toast, and your eggs, and your smoothies! Everything!

Douse your dinner in delightful dairy delicacies! Let that lovely Lünenberg linger lightly on your lips as you lap up your lunch! Boost your breakfast with blobs of blue cheese!

Make the mozzarella mingle with your sides of meat or taint your tofu with a tantalizing taleggio!
Paint your pasta with provolone and carelessly cover your cereal in cheddar!

Feed on feta as your fork fumbles with those flavorful figs!
Glob your gluten-free grains with gouda!
Have a happy heaping of havarti!
You get the idea.

Do it for the economy. Do it for your country. Or just do it for the taste. Because cheese is delicious.

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