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With the diversity of shopping options also comes the diversity of products and individuals who work at the markets. Coming from a small town where 99% of our 700-something high school population was white, it was a bit of a culture shock when I moved to Brooklyn, but I have enjoyed meeting people from all different backgrounds and having access to the diversity of cultures–in food and other things as well. I discovered immediately that I was affected by my new environment. And so was my purchasing of cheese.

The first time I visited my local grocery store, I was on a mission for the basics: eggs, orange juice, English muffins, and some American cheese. I found everything on my list except for the cheese–sliced white American cheese. I had no luck in the prepackaged section, so I ventured over to the deli and tentatively asked for a half pound of American cheese. I then let my eyes wander to see if there was anything around me I might want to grab on my way out (pig skins, no thank you).

When my attention returned to the man who was cutting the cheese (quite literally, but I have to chuckle nonetheless), I was displeased to see that it was yellow American cheese, not white. Now, there is a difference. I don’t know how you feel about it, but the taste of white American cheese wins in my book. By a landslide. As I stood there, saddened that I would not actually be eating this cheese, I thought about how pretentious and wasteful I might sound if I asked this Latino man if I could have some “white American cheese please.”

So in order to avoid this dilemma, I kept my mouth shut and took the yellow American cheese. It sat untouched in my fridge for an appropriate amount of time (which I determined was several weeks) before I placed it in the trash can apologetically. I even offered to give it away before it came to this, but nobody wanted it. I searched for my white cheese elsewhere, and finally found (and gave in to buying) an overpriced pre-sliced package of organic white American cheese.

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