Tuesday, December 11, 2007

For the love of stinky cheese

In the past I've babbled about stopping at Trader Joe's whenever I'm overtown. But it occurs to me that I might not have put it in the proper context. You know, the one that doesn't send you clicking away from me thinking, "what is up with this woman and her food issues?"

I know for a fact that people who live on the mainland ('cause I used to be one of them) take for granted their easy access to whatever foodstuffs they desire, and an almost endless assortment of choices, from every conceivable ethnic background to the newest fast food chain to the latest trendy restaurant. You see an ad, or feel a craving, and within minutes it can be yours. (Yeah, I'm so happy for you).

Living here we are not so fortunate. Although the grocery store is part of a major chain, it is a very very very small store and although they do the best they can with the limited space they have available, that means they don't really carry a wide variety. Nowhere near what that same store on the mainland stocks. In Avalon, grocery shopping is not about getting what you want, it's about taking what you can get. That's not a whine, or a complaint, just a statement of fact. So it really helps to have an occasional treat to break up the monotony. Therefore - Trader Joe's. And actually, I think the folks at the two Long Beach locations nearest the boat are accustomed to the islanders who come zooming in on kamikaze-style shopping expeditions with large duffles or rolling coolers.

My traditional haul always includes a few salads, a couple baked goods, whatever frozen delicacies I can find, and of course - yummy cheeses. I've got a few favorites but the fun is in trying new ones. My latest newbie has, as my mother put it "a lot of personality":

I believe "personality" is used here as a euphemism for "stinks to holy hell and back again with the fetid breath of a dozen ancient goats". And I had planned to save it for the weekend and treat myself to a little wine and gourmet cheese platter dinner (the healthy alternate to beer, chips, and salsa ), but last night when I opened the refrigerator the box of Arm & Hammer baking powder crawled out and begged me for mercy. I am, if nothing else, merciful, so I reached for the cutting board and crackers. The verdict? More stink than taste. Which is actually okay, I mean, if it tasted the way it smelled - I probably wouldn't be here blogging now.

I noticed something about the label and checked one of the other cheeses I purchased on the same trip:

Do you see it? No? Okay, here it is:

The label guarantees that the milk this cheese was made from is from cows who were not treated with recombinant Bovine Somatotropin or rBST. (I'm going to step aside here for a moment and point out the words around the circle say, "our cows just say nooooo" and that was damn near the title of this post. Be grateful I occasionally show some restraint - okay?) But getting back to the point, there's a lot of controversy swirling around the use of rBST. I'm not about to delve into the scientific facts, or the economic issues, or the legal and political shitstorms that have resulted since rBST first hit the market. I'm just making a purely personal decision.

Cows produce milk. Cows produce a reasonable amount of milk for what their bodies tell them is a reasonable amount of time. I don't want someone injecting a hormone into my body to make it do something other than what it does naturally, I doubt the cow does either. Injections of substances should be reserved for those occasions when nature is not doing what it should, sickness, or injury. So regardless of whether or not those hormones can make it from the cow to me, in any form, or cause any change to my health - I don't see them as a necessary or good thing. I can't say that I will restrict my purchasing of dairy products to only those who guarantee no rBST has been used, but I can say that given a choice between two competing products with that as the difference, it's an easy decision to make. And I'm not foolish enough to think that one tiny little person's shopping choices make a significant impact - but in time, and maybe multiplied by enough other tiny little people, well...

A drop of water doesn't do much, but enough of them make a river. And rivers can carve away mountains.


Mizzle said...

I always thought raclette was the kind of cheese you melted (or at least softened), scraped some off of and put it on bread...

Ellen Bloom said...

Whoa! Thanks for the science lesson. Who knew? I'm really lax about reading content labels.

As your trade-off for good markets and interesting restaurants, you have the most spectacular views in Southern California...clear water and all that gorgeous Malibu tile!!!

Have you thought about mail order?

Kath said...

Hmmmm.....well this raclette is soft enough to slice easily. But melting cheese is never bad in my book so I'll try it that way!

Mia said...

Today I'd trade every Walmart and McDonald's within 100 miles for a day on your island :)

But I have to agree with you, cheese is never a bad thing.. and melted is only better :)