Friday, December 21, 2007

Cutting too much cheese

It happened again.

Last night I picked up my December CSA delivery with grand plans for my meal - acorn squash with chile vinaigrette and spinach and pear salad with mustard vinaigrette dressing.


I already knew this delivery would have many of the same items as last month: sweet potatoes; red, white, and gold potatoes; yellow onions; acorn squash; carrots; apples; and popcorn. It would also contain a few new treats: parsnips, mushrooms, and cheese.

Organic raw milk cheese.

Delicious organic raw milk cheddar cheese.

I had bought some crackers in anticipation, and we had half a bottle of wine from the night before.

We started cutting ourselves little slivers of cheese and within a half hour, had polished off the entire wedge. Just like the first night of my November CSA delivery - when I made popcorn with my nephews while preparing a lavish meal that I never ate - I completely killed my appetite for the rest of the night.

My CSA had included the item to promote a new cheese share offering next summer. So in addition to the produce, I can pay extra and get some Wisconsin cheese with each delivery. While it tasted so good - as did the cheese we bought and finished during our weekend trip to Wisconsin a few weeks earlier - I realized that I would cut way too much cheese next summer. No thanks.

But back to this cheese from last night. According to the label, all the cows used to make the milk were grass fed. All I know about raw milk cheese is that it's unpasteurized and must age for at least 60 days in order to be sold legally.

That may have been why this cheese tasted so good, but I think the fact that these cows were grass fed had something to do with it too.

I've been reading a little about feedlots lately. In fact, I just finished Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma, in which he sets out to eat four different meals (fast food, organic, farm grown, and hunted/gathered) while tracing the food chain that leads up to each one.

While following his meal from McDonalds came from, he visits a feedlot in Kansas, where the cows there (and most everywhere in this country) are fed corn - a surplus crop that is subsidized by our government.

Although nature intended for cows to eat grass, the corn fattens them up, creating more meat to sell. He writes about how the corn wreaks havoc on these cows, who are so crammed together in their own waste that they must take antibiotics to minimize the spread of illness.

While I could go on and on about this book, the simple point I am trying to make is this: cows that eat what they are supposed to eat (grass) in an environment where they are supposed to eat (pasture) will produce milk that tastes better.

Okay, stepping off the soapbox now. But if you like fast food or store-bought meat, reading this book may seriously change the way you buy, eat, and think about food.

And if you ever have the opportunity to travel to Argentina, where grass-fed beef is plentiful and inexpensive (at least for now), you will see what I mean about the taste. Hands down, grass-fed beef tastes so much better. Why would the milk from grass-fed cows be any different?

1 comment:

ali said...

i'm so excited to read that book, linds. have you watched the story of stuff yet? www.storyofstuff.com

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