One of the things our family eats a lot of is cheese. The boys love cheese tacos – essentially tortillas microwaved with some cheese, cheese on our scrambled eggs, cheese for tacos, pizza, you name it, we can probably put cheese on it. So one of the things I wanted to change when trying to be less processed was our cheese. I’ve bought the preshredded stuff for quite awhile, thinking it was easy, and then not really thinking anything else about it. But then I looked at the ingredients in a bag of shredded cheese. On top of your usual cheese ingredients was celluose (an anti-caking agent) as well as something simply called a “mold inhibitor”. Completely pushing aside whatever the anti-fungal ingredient is… let’s focus for a second on the celluose (which is actually in a lot of processed foods). Doing a little research, it seems that this is actually wood pulp. Mmmm… nothing like saw dust to make your food taste good.
Of course, you can read that this is perfectly safe for human consumption (I even read one article that quoted someone on how it actually adds a little extra fiber to your diet). But my gut tells me, we are not beavers. If they are feeding us wood pulp, some kind of crazy processing (chemical or otherwise) would have to have taken place to the wood pulp to make it so we can eat it. Not to mention, wood pulp just doesn’t sound good.
So I’ve been shredding our cheese. Once a week or so, I pull out the food processor and quickly shred a block of cheese. Really quite simple, and the boys fight over who gets to push the button on the processor or push the little plunger thing down. I put the shredded cheese in a ziplock bag and we’ve got shredded cheese without wood pulp. This does clump up and you have to – horror – use your fingers to separate it a bit when you sprinkle it on your food. But it actually tastes better than the preshredded stuff, takes less of it to get the cheese taste you want, and it melts better.