Our take on Cheese

We’ve been getting a lot of reader comments lately about cheese and other dairy products that we use and what our feelings are regarding them.


tortilla soup

Your concerns were … if we are avoiding processed foods, then how is it we still eat cheese, yogurt, sour cream and mayo like in this Tortilla Soup recipe?

The latest comment was left on my recipe post Ground Beef Stuffed Peppers from Beth who was saying she was confused about the cheese and what types we used.

My answer to Beth was this:

“…Cheese is part of the 20% I talk about on our site. I know everyone has different ideas of what unprocessed means to them. We are (and will always be) a work in progress as we aim for a 80% whole real foods, 20% processed diet. Local, high quality, organic cheese is one of those things we choose to include in our diets. We do not buy processed wrapped cheese slices. If you look at Mediterranean diets they include a lot of oil, olives, cheese, slices of sausage, garlic and seasonal vegetables. They are called Tapas. Good quality cheese is ok (in our opinion) but you want to find a cheese that is not processed, avoid emulsifiers and coloring and uses organic milk. Local is always best! thanks for your question.”

In order for us to say we are a 100% UNPROCESSED family that would mean we eat nothing but a raw, vegan diet.  That simply isn’t the case.  We have adopted the 80% ~20% Rule when it comes to eating.cheese

So in the case of cheese, for example, we simply CHOOSE to purchase foods that contain as few ingredients as possible.   Kraft Singles in the wrapper contain all these ingredients:  Milk , Whey , Milk Protein Concentrate , Milk Fat , Calcium Phosphate , Salt , Sodium Citrate , Whey Protein Concentrate , Sodium Phosphate , Sorbic Acid , As Preservatives , Cheese Culture , Enzymes , Annatto , and , Paprika Extract , Color(s) , Vitamin D3 {source}.

Therefore it isn’t a product we would choose.

Here are our rules when picking cheese:

cheese1Keep it white – cheese is meant to be white, not orange.  A food coloring called Annatto is used to turn it orange.  From what I’ve read it’s harmless, but the point is it’s yet ANOTHER additive in our food that doesn’t need to be there.

Keep it Organic – Conventional cheese, like milk, may contain rBST or rBGH if the cow comes from a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO).  These farms main goal is mass production and profits, not our health, nor the health of the animals.  Robyn O’Brien describes the ‘udder pus’ that comes from these cows as well in her book The Unhealthy Truth.  Here’s a link to the Organic Consumers Association and a list of completely free rBST and rBGH milk producers.

Keep it in block – prepackaged, shredded cheese contain something called cellulose.  This is used so the cheese doesn’t cake together.  Keep it simple and shred it yourself just before using.

Keep it full fat – As I mentioned in the Week 5 of The 10 Week Challenge, we choose full fat products now vs low fat or fat free.  Once the fat is removed from a product something else has to go in to replace it, usually artificial chemicals and additives and to be honest the full fat versions just taste better and I usually eat less of them because they are so much more filling.

We haven’t stopped enjoying cheeses or dairy products, we just choose differently now.  I hope this clears up some of your questions.

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