As has become the tradition at the White House, the day after the State of the Union will once again be Big Block of Cheese Day. An Aaron Sorkin/West Wing-inspired throwback to the days of President Andrew Jackson, the event sadly no longer features an actual block of cheese but instead is a day during which representatives of the White House and federal agencies field questions over social media.photo credit: WhiteHouse.gov
To add further insult to injury, prior years’ sole photo of cheese depicted a lone sad, shrink-wrapped block of generic cheddar from the supermarket. We again call on the White House staff to support any of our local small businesses here in Washington offering real American cheese for purchase.
Further, we offer the following questions for those of you would like to see cheese policy addressed on a day ostensibly dedicated to cheese:
3 Questions to #AsktheWH:
- Why has the FDA arbitrarily lowered the threshold for non-toxigenic bacteria (non-toxigenic meaning totally harmless – these bacteria are naturally present in the human body) in cheese in the absence of any science or rulemaking process demonstrating its appropriateness for predicting the presence of harmful bacteria? (See https://welch.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/welch-leahy-sanders-challenge-fda-new-fda-cheese-standard.)
- Will the FDA’s forthcoming new rules for raw milk cheesemaking take into account European research and traditional practices that have safely produced raw milk cheese for centuries?
- Can the Administration explain why the FDA continues to target raw milk cheesemaking when its own data collection demonstrates that more recalls have been issued for pasteurized cheeses in the past decade? And that cheese overall is safer than eggs, spinach, and peanut butter – given the massive recalls over those products?
On a lighter note, as this is the last Big Block of Cheese Day of the Obama Administration, we pondered what cheese might be served should the tradition carry on in the next Administration.
It’s safe to assume Bernie Sanders, who has already shown support for his home state’s cheesemakers and taunted former Wisconsin Governor Bob La Follette by saying, “You should be very proud you have the second-best cheddar cheese in the country” — will certainly roll in a block of Vermont cheddar. (But will it be from Cabot, Grafton or Shelburne?)photo credit: Long Clawson Dairy via the Independent
On the Republican side, there can be only one choice for Donald Trump: gold-flecked Stilton from the UK’s Long Clawson Dairy.
Ted Cruz, perhaps some of the 2015 ACS Best in Show Celtic Blue Reserve from Canada.photo credit: AP via Wall Street Journal
As always, we’ll be listening for hidden cheese messages in the State of the Union. New House Speaker Paul Ryan has been known to bring cheese to Congressional hearings; we’ll be looking for a block of Wisconsin cheddar on the dais tonight. Come join us on Twitter (@curdwise) for this annual collision of cheese punnery and policy, won’ t you?