800pxcheese_39_bg_053006b

Well, let's look on the bright side, shall we? From The American:

It is tempting to compare this growth to the rise of the American wine industry over the past two decades. And not just because cheese and wine are so tasty together. They are similar foods. Both harness the miracle of fermentation, the activity of bacteria on a simple commodity (milk or grape juice). Both are as much art as science, cherished for their unique capacity to speak of the land and the tradition in which they are bornwhat the cognoscenti call terroir.

Cheese and wine have traced similar paths to success. Both came to America with European immigrants seeking to recreate the traditional staples of their homelands. Both entered a long dark age of industrialization and standardization, and have spent decades repairing a devastated brand and fighting to capture a suspicious market against an overwhelming tide of high-quality European competition. To this day, the very expression “American cheese” elicits chuckles and images of convenient, individually wrapped slices and aerosolized whizzes.

Cheese 4What has been good for wine has been good for cheese. The rising wealth and strong dollar of the 1990s sent Americans flocking to Europe, returning with a new understanding and appreciation of continental eating.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.