Post-Pandemic Self-Improvement Goal: Become More Knowledgeable About Cheese

Post-Pandemic  Self-Improvement Goal:  Become More Knowledgeable About Cheese

The season of cheese boards and fruit and fromage/wine pairings is here…but the platters may be a lot smaller than usual. After all, with COVID-19 sweeping the nation, many will bunker down alone or with their immediate families at home as they read of hospitals nearing capacity and governors pronounce new restrictions on gathering.

There is, of course, hope ahead. Pfizer and BioNtech, acting jointly, and Moderna, acting alone, have produced what seem to be extraordinarily effective vaccines with initial research showing them to be around 95% effective, with few or no people who receive the vaccines getting COVID-19. There are many other vaccines in testing.

These vaccines rely on a novel technology, called Messenger RNA, which may yet provide an option to inoculate against many other diseases. Of course, these vaccines have great challenges in their distribution, with requirements for extremely low-temperature distribution. Also the vaccines require two doses, and there is some concern that discomfort after the first shot may keep people away from the required second shot. In any case, there is not enough of these vaccines to quickly inoculate everyone.

There is no use sitting home and getting depressed. People should use the time they have to learn and advance. That might mean reading their Cheese Connoisseur magazine more intently! It also can mean trying new recipes, sampling new cheeses and, in general, becoming more knowledgeable about things people enjoy.

After all, we are fortunate to know that, whether through a vaccine or through the pain of developing herd immunity, this too shall pass. What we should all be striving for is to be the best we can be coming out of the situation. So we can teach others and enjoy ourselves more with the knowledge and experience we gain by focusing on self-improvement during this difficult time.

John Adams wrote a letter to his wife, Abagail, in which he explained his thoughts. He wrote: “I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.” Surely, this is another way of saying that we must support and study medicine and so free ourselves of this virus, that our children will one day know the carefree joys of being intent on eating the finest cheese.

Giving Cheese a Helping Hand

The impact of COVID-19 on the consumption of specialty cheese is difficult to discern. On the one hand, a lot of these top-end cheeses are served through an upscale foodservice channel, such as high-end restaurants, cruise lines and yachts, first-class airline cabins and private jets. The idea of specialty cheese as something upscale and special correlates to these types of venues. Many are closed, such as cruises, and many are restricted in volume, such as restaurants.

Of course, lots of specialty cheese is consumed at home, but, even there, a lot of specialty cheese is served around entertainment for friends and relatives—and that type of conviviality isn’t happening as much right now.
Of course, specialty cheese is an indulgence, and people stuck at home, nervous about the future, might well indulge. The fact that the refrigerator is close by to the spare bedroom or dining room table, where people are working these days, makes consuming specialty cheese easy. This is a real contrast to office employee lounges that tend to be filled with inexpensive junk food.

On the other hand, people who aren’t entertaining much may stick to basics, and if they are ordering groceries online, they certainly won’t get exposed to tastings and promotions that spur trial and impulse purchasing. They may even get bored with the items they have always liked and eliminate the purchases.

As if the stay-at-home, don’t entertain, don’t-eat-out culture promoted by COVID-19 wasn’t enough, it follows, of course, that massive tariffs imposed on imports of many European specialty cheeses, in response to an unrelated issue regarding Europe’s subsidizing of Airbus Jets, has made the situation even worse.

Food retailers seem to be mostly experiencing record years in overall sales. Obviously, though, there are people who, in an economic sense, have been very hurt by COVID-19. Up till now, most people who have been laid off have received unemployment insurance equal to, or more than, what they were paid, but think about restaurant owners unable to switch to take-out but still responsible for rent and other costs.

Everyone has to think of their own situation, of course, but we can all help. When I go to a restaurant, I tip a little more generously. I even order more food than I might normally, figuring I will take the rest home. I was out at a local Italian place where we’ve come to know the owner. We ordered a full table, then an extra fresh mozzarella and tomato caprese salad, an order of fried mozzarella, cheese ravioli, a Gorgonzola salad and few more things.
As we walked to the car, my oldest son, William, having seen me order more than usual asked, “Do you think he will make it?” I replied, “We will try to help where we can.”

Working Around Tariffs On Imported Cheese

Working Around Tariffs On Imported Cheese

The world is going tariff crazy!  President Trump put tariffs on China, and they respond in kind. Recently, the news is filled with the decision to impose tariffs on Mexican tomatoes while “dumping” charges are investigated. In the background, the U.S. has won a World Trade Organization action declaring that Europe has been subsidizing large civilian aircraft and that these subsidies have had an adverse impact on the U.S. aircraft industry.

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Getting Cheese Closer To Your Door

Getting Cheese Closer  To Your Door

The hottest trend in retailing is something called “omni-channel.”

The big example that disrupted the whole industry was when Amazon bought Whole Foods. Though this combination of “Bricks and Clicks”—or physical stores and online purchases—is often what is spoken of when talking about Omni-Channel, it can also mean many different sales venues and delivery options.

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Cheese Holds Firm Against Gathering Storms

Cheese Holds Firm Against Gathering Storms

The cheese market is in flux:

  • Milk prices have been increasing. Feed prices went up last year, so dairy farmers raised fewer cows. Yet, the United States has more cheese in storage than any year since record-keeping commenced in 1917.
  • The United Kingdom is less than a year from leaving the European Union, and there is no agreement yet between the EU and the UK. If no agreement is reached, the default is for World Trade Organization tariffs to prevail, and these are substantial.
  • The UK is a substantial importer of specialty cheese from the Continent, so if prices rise due to tariffs, demand in the UK will fall, which means European producers will be looking for new markets. The U.S. is a prime target.
  • Mexico is finalizing a trade agreement with the European Union, and the agreement includes a protection for European geographic indications — a term for products that correspond with a specific region, such as Champagne sparkling wine or Parmesan cheese. By using a grandfather clause in the Mexican/EU agreement, Mexico will protect U.S. cheese producers who use these names that are protected in Europe. But this is supposed to be effectuated through a revised NAFTA accord, and the U.S. cheese producers aren’t persuaded that this will actually happen.
  • President Trump has attacked Canada for its dairy price supports. In response to tariffs from the U.S., both Mexico and China have put tariffs on U.S. cheese.

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Specialty Cheeses At ‘Deep-discount’ Prices

Specialty Cheeses At ‘Deep-discount’ Prices

For most consumers, the day is long past where the only place to purchase specialty cheese is a high-end specialty store. The news reports are filled with speculation as to how Amazon’s expected takeover of Whole Foods might impact both organizations and their offerings. That is for the future… immediately, though, consumers are being offered a new opportunity to shop at “deep-discounter” retailers.

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The Skinny On Cheese

Message From Jim Prevor, Editor-In-Chief

The Skinny On Cheese

High-fat Cheese: the Secret to a Healthy Life? The Telegraph

High-Fat Cheese May Benefit Health By Boosting ‘Good’ Cholesterol, Study Suggests Huffington Post

These headlines, and thousands more, have been motivated by new research, as The Telegraph explains: A diet rich in cheese might actually be good for our health, according to a new study.

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