American Cheese

Today when I was about to order my typical bunless grass-fed burger, I couldn’t help but to overhear what the customer in front of me was asking for.

The cook asked if he’d like the works; lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, bacon & cheese to which the customer responded, “I’d like cheese…cheddar, please”.   Alas, there was no cheddar as an option.  

Only “American Cheese”.

This really got me thinking.

Another perfect example of something we see all the time and never think twice about; an illustration of yet one more thing we’ve created here in the good old USA that is completely, for lack of a better word, rubbish.

What exactly is it?

A quick check with Wikipedia revealed:

  • American cheese is one type of processed cheese. It can be orange, yellow, or white in color; is mild and faintly sweet in flavor; has a medium-firm consistency; and, a very low melting point.
  • Because its ingredients differ so much from those of “unprocessed”/raw/natural cheeses, American cheese can not be legally sold under the name (authentic) “cheese” in the US. Instead, federal (and even some state) laws mandate that it be labeled as “processed cheese”, “cheese product”, “cheese food”, etc.

Oh, and here’s the best part:

  • Sometimes even the word “cheese” is absent, altogether, from the product’s labeling in favor of, e.g., “American slices” or “American singles” because cheese is not actually in the product.

Below are the ingredients to something even lower than American Cheese…. Imitation “Pasteurized Process Cheese Food.”

  • (A brand called “Always Save American Sandwich Slices”) contains: water, modified food starch, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, maltodextrin, whey, sodium caseinate, salt, enzyme-modified cheese (cultured milk, water, salt, sodium phosphate, cream, sodium citrate, enzymes, sorbic acid [preservative], artificial color), guar gum, sodium hexametaphosphate, sorbic acid [preservative], artificial color, and lactic acid.

Despite all this, all too often,  ‘foods’ like Kraft Singles, Macaroni and Cheese or Ice Cream are viewed as ‘comfort foods’; things that can be consumed to provide a sense of…what? Being comfortable?  

How comfortable are you with a bloated belly and a congested nasal passage from all the dairy, a migraine headache from the gluten and extra pounds from all the refined foods that are completely devoid of anything remotely nourishing?

We’re in a really sad state of affairs.

Let’s read between the lines and think twice the next time the thought of reaching for one of these packaged items with unidentifiable ingredients.

Just as with many other aspects of following a True Paleo regime, once we open up the Pandora’s box of what the Standard American Diet looks like and realize that nearly everything we’re taught growing up about what healthy choices are, aren’t really all that healthy, we then create space to see thing the way they really are.

American Cheese (By) Products are really not a good thing to ingest.   Unless, of course, you feel you are not getting your RDA of guar gum, sodium hexametaphosphate.