Probably most Americans who grew up prior to the millennium consider American cheese to be synonymous with “cheesy,” or of little worth.
They may think of “processed ‘cheese’ product,” or individually wrapped slices of a yellowish substance masquerading as cheese. But, today, there are artisanal varieties of truly astounding American cheeses that measure up well against European offerings.
That’s because there is a growing movement of artisanal cheesemakers who sell raw-milk cheeses. Most cheeses found in the grocery are extensively pasteurized; that kills germs, including “good” bacteria that make cheese healthful and flavorful. European cheeses are not commonly pasteurized.
As the holiday season nears, our family enjoys raw milk cheeses. While only a few varieties are available locally (extensively aged), the Internet is ripe (excuse the pun!) with such cheeses. I prefer to order from artisanalcheese.com.
Doesn’t cheese have a lot of fat? Well, yes. But most health professionals point out that the amount of fat in a food is not the sole determinant of whether one becomes fat; it’s the total intake of calories and the amount of calories expended through exercise.The Artisanal Cheese blog (News From the Cheese Caves, blog.artisanalcheese.com) gives a more complete picture. Fat curbs our appetites by triggering the release of cholecystokinin, a hormone that yields a feeling of satiety and is directly involved in the metabolysis of proteins and fats. Other hunger suppressors found in cheese include certain peptides and their amino acids. Many of the proteins, as well as many of the vitamins and minerals that cheese contain, all help to metabolize the foods we consume.
Cheese is simply preserved milk; a near-complete food which (except for vitamin C and fiber) provides all the nutrients we require.
If the Legislature would allow raw milk cheese production and sale, Mississippi could join this movement, too.