Yellow, blue, green, stinky, and with holes – while that might sound like a description of my teenager’s sock drawer, it’s much better suited to one of my greatest food weaknesses – cheese. I can honestly say that I’ve not encountered a variety that I don’t love. Eaten alone, on crackers or with fruit, cheese is something that always satisfies.
What’s wonderful about the local food movement is that we’re seeing an increase in cheese production. Yes, I still love the varieties that are shipped in from around the globe and you can find me devouring samples at a specialty deli on weekends but there are some local cheeses with fantastic bite that are making their way into my palate and my fridge. And the encouraging news is that this is happening in communities everywhere, so you’re likely to be able to experience the same. Food-worthy has published a list making it easier for some of us to identify local cheeses and even cheese CSAs.
Now for the dark side. On writing this post, my research uncovers that I am not alone in cheese love and this fact doesn’t delight me. Per capita cheese consumption in this country is rising sharply and has done so since 1970 when the average American was consuming approximately 11 pounds of cheese per year. Today that number is nearly 33 pounds per person per year and is predicted to surpass 37 pounds per year by 2017. Ewww! The Center for Science in the Public Interest has declared cheese the number one artery clogging food in this country and the number one source of saturated fats. Their suggestions include ordering pizza with half the regular cheese and sandwiches without. Be aware of the amount that you’re consuming and if you do like some of the stronger types, less still packs a lot of flavor.
Some facts remain. I love cheese. I love to support local business. There is a growing cheese industry in my country that is made up of farmers and artisans – and those are the ones I am going to support.
- 2 Tbs olive oil, divided
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 eggs lightly beater
- 2 tsp Italian seasoning , crushed
- 1/2 tsp salt, divided
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 3 medium fresh ripe tomatoes
- 1 cup sliced onion
- 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup pitted ripe olives, halved
- 1 and 1/4 cup white cannellini beans cooked and drained
- 3/4 cup hard cheese (such as Swiss) cut in 1/2 inch cubes.