The Kraft Singles "endorsement" fiasco was particularly poignant last week since we were already researching Kraft Singles as a compare/contrast vs. Sargento 100% cheese.
Why eat "pasteurized prepared cheese product" (what Kraft Singles currently are) or "pasteurized process cheese food" (what Kraft Singles used to be) when you can eat real cheese?
Cheese is one of those foods that everyone says they love, but cheesy goodness doesn't always involve cheese. Nacho cheese sauce is considered cheese. Pasteurized process cheese food is legally considered cheese by the FDA because it contains 51% cheese.
The 51% standard reminds us of when Stephen Colbert took off on the Domino's school lunch pizza where the pizza crust only had to be 51% whole wheat.
Even when actual cheese is involved, the cheese is either reduced-fat or bland cheese, such as mozzarella.
"American exceptionalism" is real, but not when it comes to cheese.
Giving up that tradition can be difficult if you fall into nostalgia or still eat like a child. If you have children, you feel like you are giving them a part of your childhood by giving them Kraft Singles.
How about giving them real cheese?
We hear the stories: "You can't give kids real cheese because the flavor is too strong for them." "Cheese is high in fat so kids need to cut back."
Cheese has flavor because it has fat; this is a dairy product.
When I was a child, and my peers were loving the Singles, I was complaining that the blue cheese dressings were too mild. Even as an adult, I get a secret supply of blue cheese from a vendor at the farmers market that is extra old, extra strong. No labels — that is how secret this is — just goodness.
As we've learned from other food categories, the more flavor and fat you have, the less we need to eat to be satisfied. With good cheese, 2 oz. can be plenty. With nacho cheese sauce, you could dip with chips all day long and not feel full.
French kids eat more good cheese and are much less obese.
If you have children whose palates are not as sophisticated as mine, there are plenty of sufficiently bland tasting real cheeses. If cheddar is too much, go with Swiss. Need to go further to Blandsville? Monterey Jack and mozzarella will do.
Test your kids: give them a variety of cheeses and see which ones work. You can help them figure out their palates for cheese and possibly other foods based on the results.
Children need fat to grow. They are more sensitive to need flavor as a prerequisite in food. They don't have to eat cheese to grow up. But if cheese is an option, teach them to explore the many facets of the world of cheese. Just make sure that they get real cheese; your children (and adults too) deserve the best.
photo credit: Sargento