EU cheese plan stinks
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By Caleb Hawkins | Editor
March 21, 2014
I like cheese. As do most people.
Feta, Parmesan, Romano, Provolone, Asiago. I like it all.
Or do I? Our friends across the Atlantic would argue that I don’t. I like the Americanized knock-offs.
As part of ongoing trade talks, the European Union has called for a ban on American-made cheeses using European names.
They argue that true Parmesan can only be made in its namesake region of Italy, that feta can only come Greece, so on and so forth.
And while cheeses are at the proposal’s heart, other items would be affected.
If the EU has its way, Black Forest ham, Greek yogurt and Valencia oranges will no longer be made in America.
Similar plans have already been accepted by our neighbors in Canada and Central America.
In fact, in Canada, you can’t even put symbols, images or other “geographic indicators” that evoke the region of origin on your packaging.
Why not put the same restrictions on Belgian waffles or baguettes? How about spaghetti and the umpteen other pasta shapes?
We don’t know yet; in fact the entire plan is rather vague at this point, but one thing is already clear:
The plan is absurd.
But not to be outdone, America is sending its own absurdity into the fray: Congress.
Over half of the Senate has come out against the proposal, saying it will hurt the American dairy business, which brings in roughly $22 Billion a year (which probably explains the miracle act of bipartisanship).
Which is, of course, the entire point.
Europe is trying to take a larger share of the market. Which will obviously harm America’s share.
The Europeans argue that their superior, authentic product is lagging behind cheaper American versions.
Apparently they think that changing “Feta Cheese” to “Feta Style Cheese” will be a game changer.
Yes, that’s right – if the EU plan goes through, consumers can expect to see “Parmesan-like cheese” and “Black Forest-ish ham” on store shelves soon. Maybe even simply “Salty white cheese in brine.”
Yep, I love me some “hard white crumbly cheese.”
And grocers should be prepared to answer how “Almost but not really Greek yogurt” is different than the “actual” Greek yogurt next to it.
The answer being that, well, they aren’t. Which only goes to show how ridiculous this entire thing is.
Echoing a certain European playwright’s (who at this rate I may be banned from mentioning) comment on the beauty of roses, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York (who apparently has a burgeoning artesian cheese industry) told reporters “Muenster is Muenster, no matter how you slice it.”
America has a proud cheese history all the way back to when Andrew Jackson was gifted a 2 ton cheese wheel (really) and beyond. No one can take that from us.
In response, I say we should put out an embargo English Muffins, French Fries and Cesar Salad; see how they like that.