Like most parents, I stand in line at the deli counter for my American Cheese order. I never really gave much thought to what I was buying and often just selected the cheapest product (we go through a lot of cheese). I know deli meats are generally packed with sodium, and have assumed there are some other not-so-great differences between deli cheese and the real deal but I never took the time to compare.
The Motherhood and Sargento Cheese have provided me a great opportunity to learn a little something about a food item that we eat everyday in our household. I held a cheese tasting party during our usual weekly play date and while the kids enjoyed the toys, the moms got to really examine the differences between processed and real cheese.
There were some amazing things that I never knew about processed cheese that were provided to me via a cheese tasting fact sheet. I was informed that some processed cheeses sit on a store shelf without refrigeration; is cooked into a liquid; and finally it is pumped into plastic packaging. By contrast, Sargento natural cheese is actually cut from a block of cheese and must be refrigerated. Additionally, Sargento cheese typically has 130mg of sodium in a 21g slice while the processed cheese has 250mg of sodium in a 19g slice.
Here is what we learned:
The processed cheese was rubbery. It was pliable and just wouldn’t break no matter which way my friends and I would bend it. Sure, we could tear the cheese, but how unnatural is it for a food to just bend like rubber? It also felt like you could push into the cheese, with a silly putty type feel.
I am not a fan of smells. In fact, I boycott certain foods without ever tasting them because of the smell (yogurt is one of these items – never tried it because I can’t get past the smell!). One mom in my playgroup has a background in Chemistry and she mentioned that the processed cheese had a very distinct chemical smell. I couldn’t help but agree.
Wow. I mean… WOW.
The first thing we noticed was that that processed cheese not only looked like rubber, it tasted like it as well. And it was salty. Very salty. One mom mentioned it “tasted like kids food… like cheap nacho dip” and that it might be “good for grilled cheese but that’s about it”. I personally thought that even though it seemed slimy it was hard to swallow because it didn’t taste like real food.
*Disclosure: The Motherhood and Sargento provided the product for review and also a stipend for this post. Product information regarding cooking process and sodium content was provided to me for this campaign. All opinions expressed are the honest opinions of the party participants.