MSU's MAFES store needs to add a new cheese to their inventory

The MAFES Sales Store carries a variety of cheeses produced by the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station.

Cheese. Delicious, delicious cheese. Melt it, shred it, munch it or slice it, cheese is a staple of most forms of cuisine. Mississippi State University's agriculture department clearly recognizes this and has stepped into the ring with the various cheeses of the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station (MAFES) store. Yet, the stock falls short, with a scant four cheeses and two spreads.

Of those cheeses, only one is truly remarkable. The other cheeses they offer— cheddar, jalapeño pepper and Vallagret, do not stand out quite as much as MSU's famous Edam cheese. The MAFES shop website describes Vallagret to be a Norwegian style of Swiss cheese. Cheddar and jalapeño pepper cheeses are everywhere from dips to sandwich slices. Cheddar is quite literally so common in America the Department of Agriculture uses it to track the overall health of the dairy market week by week, with the most recent report revealing there to be 12.7 million sales of cheddar cheese in 40 pound blocks on the week of Oct. 9. According to Erica Chayes Wida of Today.com, cheddar is the most popular cheese for the survey group.

The Edam cheese ball is something very much different. While it draws inspiration from Holland's cheeses, it is a unique representation of MSU, with the MAFES entry even calling it "a Mississippi State tradition." Even above that, it is good. My family has bought a ball for the holidays every year for the last three years and it is a struggle to even make it last until Christmas Day since it is just too delicious to resist. It works well with crackers, and cubing it and sticking it on toothpicks makes you feel fancy while you chow down. Even something as simple as putting it between two slices of bread like a medieval peasant ends in good flavor. The taste does not blend with thousands of similar forms of cheese; it is something indelibly associated with MSU.

Unfortunately, it is not enough. The scales are tipped far too much toward bland commonality than toward memorable uniqueness, even if you count the exceptional chocolate milk. Making new cheeses with a flavor that does not make someone want to sand their taste buds off is probably pretty difficult, there is no discounting that, but Edam cheese became a thing for the Dairy Science Department in 1938. The time has come for a new, unique cheese which can begin to balance things out a little more in the favor of originality.

Adding a new cheese to the store would have the benefit of enticing people to come in or order the new item online. It would also give MAFES a way to attract new customers with a fresh inventory, since it is easier to advertise something new than to put out flyers for the same stock year after year. A new cheese could also provide a little bit more variety in the dining halls, something everyone could benefit from.

Perhaps the biggest reason of all to add a new cheese to the MAFES shelves is to call back to the history of the university at large. MSU started off as the agricultural and mechanical college of the state of Mississippi and having the agricultural and forestry groups behind the MAFES store come up with something new would help connect the university as a whole to its past.

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