In the first of Leeds Flipside’s long reads, we take a look at the American cheese industry, and how the recent announcement by several of the largest producers to outsource production to the moon has been received by business, consumers and politicians. We will then move on to look at the potential impacts this move will have on the entire American, and global, economy.
American Big Cheese
The first question to answer in this investigation is of course; why the move to the moon? To find out some answers, we went after some key industry players.
Bernard Fromage, the CEO of the Big American Cheese Company, when speaking to Flipside said that “ever since watching that episode of Wallace and Gromit where they go to the moon I’ve had aspirations of tapping that resource, with the program inspiring me to get involved in this industry. It actually amazes me that to do this day not a single person had ever eaten perfectly edible Moon cheese.”
“It makes sense for us to move to the Moon now, what with the fascist anti-cheese veganism movement threatening our supply lines. This is about guaranteeing a sustainable source of Cheese for future generations to enjoy. Moving from cow based to Moon based production methods will also lower our production costs, meaning we can pass on lower cheese prices to consumers.”
However such apparent consumer-centric thought has been met with scepticism and, in some cases, outrage.
Outrage Amongst Consumers
We spoke to many people who simply “didn’t want no moon cheese.” This suspicion of extra-terrestrial cheese is a stigma that the moon cheese manufacturers will have to overcome in order for their lunar investment to have the chance at breaking even.
Consumers, who are increasingly environmentally conscious, have also expressed concerns that any cheese not made on earth will necessarily have a larger impact. One woman we spoke to told us of her concerns, especially in regards to the carbon footprint that Moon cheese would have. Obviously having to transport cheese to and from the moon on board solid fuel burning rocket ships will come with large environmental costs. The Big American Cheese Company has however reassured regulators that the emissions saved in reduced cow flatulence will more than make up for the negative externalities associated with this move to extra-terrestrial cheese production.
There were some supporting the move off-planet, with one gentleman we spoke to saying “if it means cheaper cheese, then I’m all for it.” Clearly, if the price is right, many people will be willing to overcome the stigma of eating Moon cheese; with such low production costs for firms, Moon cheese could quite quickly become a permanent feature on supermarket shelves.
The Political Reaction
Last week’s announcement certainly caused a stir amongst the political class, with Bernie Sanders deriding the move, saying “the inter-lunar partnership is a disastrous proposal designed to protect the interests of the largest multi-national cheese corporations at the expense of Earth based workers, consumers, the environment and the foundations of American democracy.”
Donald Trump meanwhile has promised to build a giant dome to stop moon imports insisting that “I will build a dome – and I will get the moon men to pay for it.” Hilary Clinton on the other hand was more ambiguous in her response, stating that “the inter-lunar partnership is a disastrou.. wait did the Big American Cheese corporation donate to my campaign? Oh. They donated how much?!?!? Jeesh. OK, I’d better leave this one.”
The Impacts of the Move
The most important question however remains; what will the long-term impacts be on both the Earth and the Moon of the shift from cow to Moon based cheese?
Such massive decheesation will necessarily result in serious repercussions in some US states. In Wisconsin, for example, cheese production accounts for over 90% of employment. One troubled cheese farmer expressed concern for the welfare of his cows, suggesting that without steady employment in milk production, depression amongst his herd would increase.
Critics have however suggested that lower demand for milk could give the cows more opportunity for leisure time, which could go some way towards mitigating the social impacts of the mass cow unemployment.
There are certainly some positives to this upward move. Matthew Latham, economist at the Intergalactic Monetary Fund (IMF) spoke to us about the economic benefits Moon cheese could have: “increased trade with the Moon leads to increased competition amongst cheese manufacturers. The resulting industrial restructuring should mean more cheese for everyone;” is what we assumed he said, except our correspondent fell asleep during the interview.
It is this journalist’s opinion that being able to access such a massive lunar cheese resource will benefit us all in the long run, but only if the prosperity can be shared and a proportion of the Moon cheese profits invested in retraining cows. To conclude, there will necessarily be winners and losers from the shift of cheese production to the moon, but in the long run we will be better off for it. As the old adage goes; less jobs today, more cheese tomorrow.