Letters: It's All About Cheese

Robert Siegel and Audie Cornish read emails from listeners responding to a story about a group that's trying to reduce the amount of cheese Americans consume.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Now, to your letters - all about one story, in particular. We recently told you about a billboard campaign launched by the Physicians' Committee for Responsible Medicine. It features the image of an overweight woman squeezing her ample leg, with the message: Your Thighs on Cheese.

Dr. Neal Barnard, a vegan who eschews eating any animal products, including cheese, leads the group.

DR. NEAL BARNARD: It's very high in cholesterol - ounce for ounce - about the same as any steak you can find, and surprisingly high in sodium. So how often do you want to eat such an unhealthy food? I would argue, never.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Well, many of you would argue otherwise. There was a distinct theme to your letters about our story, a theme best summed up by this old commercial jingle.

(SOUNDBITE OF ADVERTISEMENT)

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Singing) Cheese, glorious cheese. So scrumptious and luscious...

SIEGEL: Seldan Deemer(ph) of Atlanta was actually preparing a cheese-free dinner while listening to our report but, he writes: It compelled me to open the refrigerator, pull out a block of Dutch gouda, and slice off several pieces. Mmm, cheese.

CORNISH: Several more of you complained about Dr. Barnard's hard-line, no-cheese stance. Lee Burdett(ph) of Altamonte Springs, Florida, called it, quote, just one more foolish display of the self-righteous and misguided vegan agenda.

She goes on to say: High school human biology textbooks demonstrate how our bones, cells, hormones, and many other bodily functions depend on saturated fat.

SIEGEL: Mrs. Burdett concludes: Why doesn't Dr. Barnard spend his ad money to educate about the dangers of giving kids a constant supply of artificially colored and flavored sugary candy and soda, and leave the real foods - like cheese - alone?

CORNISH: Indeed. From the look of our inbox, the cheese does not stand alone. Bill Jackson of Canby, Oregon, writes: Touch my cheddar, and you will pull back a stump.

SIEGEL: Duly noted, Mr. Jackson. And everyone who wrote in, we do not want to take your cheese. We just want your letters. Go to NPR.org, and click on Contact Us.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

CORNISH: This is NPR News.

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