I can't begin to picture what 1.19 billion pounds of cheese looks like. My son walked into my office while I was reading on Smithsonian about the enormous stockpile of cheese the United States is sitting on right now and said, "I wouldn't think that there could be 1.19 billion pounds of cheese on the Earth at any one time."
Sitting in our dairy coffers is not processed American cheese or even that lovely orange government cheese of yore. It is natural cheese made of milk, enzymes and cultures — the real deal — some made right here in America and some imported. The excess is due to several factors including an increase in American dairy production, a weakening euro (making it less expensive to import cheese) and a worldwide increase in milk supply.
Much of this cheese will get sold, but if there truly is a surplus — more perfectly good cheese than can be sold — I have some ideas to make sure it doesn't go to waste. (Some of these ideas are obviously more serious than others.)
1. Make the world's largest Fromage Fort. This French method of turning odds and ends of various cheeses into one yummy cheese spread usually uses one pound of cheese at a time. Let's take a few thousand pounds of cheese and make one big cheese ball.
2. Adopt the British sport of cheese rolling. Since the 1880s, the village of Brockworth in Gloucestershire, England, has held an annual cheese rolling competition. Daily Mail reports the contest, which was suspended for a few years but started up again last year, is held on a "on steep piece of turf known as Cooper's Hill." A giant wheel of Double Gloucester cheese is rolled down the steep hill as contestants run after it, tumbling and falling on their way down, while thousands of people watch. The first to the bottom of the hill wins the wheel of cheese.
3. Put an actual big block of cheese in the White House for Big Block of Cheese Day. History says that Andrew Jackson had a 1,400 pound block of cheese in the White House that anyone could come munch on and perhaps chat about issues while they were there. The modern day White House has held Big Block of Cheese Day (named after a similar concept on "The West Wing") when staffers discuss issues with citizens via social media. Maybe it's time to bring a wheel of cheese back to the White House.
4. Send a consolation prize to former presidential hopeful Ted Cruz. Cruz, who recently dropped out of the presidential race, is reportedly a self-professed cheese connoisseur. He could probably use a little cheering up. Cheese might do it.
5. Make it a legal requirement to serve cheese in restaurants — again. From June 1935 to March 1937 restaurants in Wisconsin were legally required to serve a small amount of cheese and a small amount of butter with each meal, according to Madison.com. Apparently, there was a dairy surplus back then. There's a dairy surplus now. Time for history to repeat itself.
6. Give some away to anyone who can define "turophile" on the spot. If you don't know what turophile means, no free cheese for you! Hint: Ted Cruz might know the definition.
7. Give it to the hungry. While it may be difficult for me to wrap my head around the visual of 1.19 billion pounds of cheese, there are people who go to bed each night wishing for the smallest fraction of that to stop their stomachs from aching. If there truly is a surplus of cheese and there's more sitting in refrigeration units around the country than can be sold, the best thing to do is to get it into the hands and mouths of people who don't have enough to eat. I'll happily give up my 3,000-pound Fromage Fort fantasy if it means hungry people get to not be hungry.