As should be well known the United States suffers from a terrible cheese problem – no, not that old one of there being no edible cheese, today’s is a definite oversupply of barely edible cheese – which is that there’s just too much of it about. There are complex detailed reasons why this is so and one simple one. If more farmers were allowed to go bankrupt, if there was less government support for farmers, then there wouldn’t be the oversupply of cheese.
Fortunately Costco is selling a 27 lb tub of Mac and Cheese. A tub of what is euphemistically called food which carries a 20 year lifespan. Or at least Costco would sell it if they could keep it in stock.
Yes, it’s obvious, isn’t it? We use one of our problems to solve the other one of them. Stick the cheese into the tubs for the shelves of Costco.
The United States’ dairy surplus has reached a record high, rounding out at 1.4 billion pounds of cheese. Reports attempting to quantify this astonishing amount have deferred to metrics like “enough to wrap around the U.S. Capitol.” Suffice to say, nobody’s suggesting we could consume it all. The nation eating this much cheese is not only mind-boggling: It’s growing less and less likely. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture data, Americans have cut their milk consumption down from 35 pounds to an average of 15 per person annually. The excess is turned into cheese for storage and longevity (and the enjoyment of delicious cheese products). At the same time, government subsidies have continued to support dairy production, buying up surplus to keep prices steady. That leaves us with more cheese than anyone, even the experts, knows what to do with.
I did say it’s about government support, didn’t I?
“What has changed — and changed fairly noticeably and fairly recently — is people are turning away from processed cheese,” Novakovic says. “It’s also the case that we’re seeing increased sales of kind of more exotic, specialty, European-style cheeses. Some of those are made in the U.S. A lot of them aren’t.”
Well, yes, except that excess milk isn’t turned into those edible cheeses you find at Whole Foods. It gets made into government cheese which is a rather different beast:
Government cheese is processed cheese provided to welfare beneficiaries, Food Stamp recipients and the elderly receiving Social Security in the United States, and is still provided to food charities. The processed cheese was used in military kitchens since World War II and in schools since as early as the 1950s. Government cheese is a commodity cheese that was controlled by the U.S. federal government from the time World War II ended and into the early 1980s. Government cheese was created to maintain the price of dairy when dairy industry subsidies artificially increased the supply of milk and created a surplus of milk that was then converted into cheese, butter, or powdered milk. The cheese, along with the butter and dehydrated powder, was stored in over 150 warehouses across 35 states
There are times when even that doesn’t get rid of it all and here are free distributions of it. Leading, always, to people trying to hawk the stuff on the roadside. For no one is going to actually eat government cheese, not even poor hungry people.
Except, maybe as Mac and Cheese?
If you like macaroni and cheese — and a lot of it — then you’re not alone. And Costco knows that. The wholesaler is selling a 27-lb. bucket of one of America’s favorite comfort foods. And if you’re worried about getting through it quickly, have no fear: the product has a 20-year shelf life. But while the macaroni and cheese might last many years in the bucket, it has been gobbled up swiftly. Less than 24 hours after People magazine reported on the product, the Chef’s Banquet Macaroni and Cheese Storage Bucket is listed as “out of stock” on Costco’s website.
Hey, it’s popular stuff. Which gives us our clue as to what to do with that excess of government cheese. Convert it into Mac and Cheese and stick it on Costco’s shelving.
Which leaves us with only the one problem. The current excess of cheese will provide us with, oooh, say and imagine, a 20 year supply for the nation of Mac and Cheese . Which is great, we’ve solved this year’s difficulty. But now what do we do for the next 19 years until we can throw the Mac and Cheese away and start all over?