Cheese… another fairly basic food that the food processing industry has managed to commercialise so that not all cheese is created equal.  This post isn’t about to eat or not to eat cheese, rather if you do eat it, how to choose the real deal.


How is ‘real’ cheese made?

Very basically a starter culture is added to the (pasteurised) milk to acidify it and begin culturing it.  Specifically selected bacteria are added to develop the cheeses flavour and texture.  To further the curdling process in more mature cheeses, an enzyme like rennet (from animal or non-animal sources) is added.   This is a nourishing tradition and a natural process of culturing dairy.


How ‘fake’ or ‘plastic’ cheese is made…

Like regular cheese, but with the addition of one or more of the following – whey, emulsifiers, milk, salt (generally much more than real cheese), preservatives and food colouring (one of the cheese slices I checked out had 19 ingredients).  Some of these unrefrigerated types of cheeses are actually more vegetable oil than milk.


Why was this even invented?  Firstly, it produces convenient slices that ‘melt’ uniformly (standardised food is quintessential to the fast food industry).  Secondly, it has a much longer shelf life, though mature cheese has a pretty impressive shelf life anyway so not sure why this is so appealing!


It’s a simple choice really

Like bread, milk and yoghurt, less is more – so ‘real cheese’ has a short ingredient list of milk, cultures, (animal derived or non-animal) rennet and salt (sodium chloride).  That’s it, nothing more!  It is just cheese prepared by traditional methods!


A step further

As milk is the primary ingredient in cheese, the quality of the milk determines the quality of the cheese.  Like with milk, in my book the less processed the cheese, the better.  So a cheese made from organic or biodynamic milk is my number one choice.  Then what I refer to as ‘just cheese’ – as described above, which is what is available in most supermarkets.  So the cheeses to avoid are; low fat, lite and of course ‘plastic or fake cheese’.


At the end of the day, ‘fake cheese’ is what margarine is to butter…it is more a product of industry that nature.  Our body has not evolved to recognise long lists of ‘manufactured’ ingredients.  I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again – just eat real food please.  Unless you are casein intolerant, a little cheese as part of a balanced, mostly plant based diet is delicious and nourishing.


For more healthy inspiration and free recipes, visit www.wellnourished.com.au.


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Founded by Georgia, a mum, cookbook author, naturopath with 19 years experience and the creator of The Well Nourished Lunch Box Challenge, Well Nourished delivers wholesome, easy-to-follow recipes targeted to busy families. Readers flock to Well Nourished for inspiring health advice and free, nourishing, family friendly recipes. // www.wellnourished.com.au