Carole Tanzer Miller, features editor, writes: If there's one food that's my downfall, it's cheese. I just love the stuff. So do most Americans.
According to the Washington Post, the average American ate 33 pounds of cheese in 2010 -- three times as much as in 1970. As the Post's commentary "One nation, under cheese" points out, few foods contain as much saturated fat.
Which just might explain why the adult obesity rate has more than doubled since the early 1970s -- from 14.5 percent to 35.7 percent.
Cheese is everywhere, the commentary points out, from fast-food restaurants to school cafeterias. We eat it plain and piled on nachos, pizza, noodles, burgers, even pie. If a recipe calls for 1 cup, I use 1-1/2. Can't get enough of it. (Good for bone density and all that, you know?)
When we visit old haunts in Oregon, Vermont and New York, we always buy a pound or two of local cheese (Tillamook in Oregon, sharp "private stock" cheddar in Vermont, Helluva Good in New York).
Nothing better than opening the suitcase after a cross-country trip to find that big block of trip-aged (read: soft and fragrant) Tillamook and a loaf of San Francisco sourdough.
On a recent trip to Vermont, I dispatched my son to the Putney General Store for the requisite slab of private stock. We expected to enjoy it back at the hotel AFTER our food fest at Curtis All-American BBQ.
But when we got to the room, the cheese had vanished. We combed frantically through our bags and souvenirs, and it was nowhere to be found. We couldn't decide which was more maddening -- the wasted money or the shattered promise of a favorite treat.
Four days later, we returned to Raleigh. There, in a dark recess of a backpack was the private stock cheese. I racked my brain for a loophole (something like the 2-second rule that some folks invoke, saying it's OK to eat something you dropped on the floor if it wasn't there longer than 2 seconds...). But I just couldn't come up with any way that four days outside the fridge would leave that cheese edible.
We chucked it.
With regret. But fat free!