Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cheese customs

Coming back to the US is always a huge ordeal. Not just going thru immigration is a long process, with questions like "what were you doing away for so long?" "aren't you a student? - so how do you pay for all this traveling?" and my two personal favourites "what are you gonna do with a PhD in politics?" and "is the New School even a real university?"

On top of this, since I got into cheese and food, customs has also become a reason for anxiety. Not so much because I bring anyhing that is not allowed to enter the county, but because I am worried about the food ignorance of some of the customs officials.

This is particularly true if you are bringing cheese into the country. Even the pasteurized versions of camembert can cause concerns. The aroma of one of these cheeses can become overpowering after a long international flight with no refigeration, but that does not mean it has gone bad or should be incinerated.

I understand the reasoning behind the prohibition on the transportation of live cultures and some molds. But those present in cheese are innocous as their concentrations are small and would be consumed almost immediatedly upon arrival to the US.

I know of tons of stories when the officials have confiscated perfectly packed cheese, meat, chiles, and tortillas. While more harmful things like tobacco get special permission and are even allowed to be sold free of taxes. Last time I checked the most recent cheese related death was over five years ago in Canada from a pasteurized store-bought cheese. However, deaths related to pulmonary problems caused by cigarrettes happen everyday and the government still allows Big Tobacco to turn a profit.

Sadly cheese still has no powerful lobby in DC - yet maybe it is better this way as we should enjoy good cheese only in it's place of origin.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone.

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