This holiday, consider cheese for baking and cooking. But first, is cheese even something you want to put on your menu?
As I write in FoodWISE (with an eye on some history and cultural geography),
The trick here is to stop—think—then act; consider all the factors in play and make your decision from there. For me, local, pasture-raised dairy is a priority, due to the favorable fatty-acid profile and the ordinary animal behavior of cows grazing. But I don’t just drink my milk straight—I’m a cheesemaker, after all. And I still consider fermented foods such as yogurt, cheese, and sauerkraut to be whole foods. Natural processes of fermentation are everywhere. Milk wants to be cheese and sour cream: it starts to sour soon after it exits the animal unless properly refrigerated and handled. Cultures aid the transformation.
That is the origin story of cheese: probably discovered millennia ago by some traveler in the Middle East who set off for the day carrying milk in the handy container of a calf or sheep stomach, and found at the end of her journey that it had turned into something quite different, and quite tasty— curdled into the beginning of cheese by the rennet coagulant naturally in the animal’s stomach. No mountains mined, no massive transport vehicles needed to make this delicious food—“making” cheese this way just means helping milk do its thing. That’s the kind of processing I can get behind as a FoodWISE consumer…