The government’s ‘cheese illuminati’ is secretly trying to stuff your face

There’s actually a secretive government-funded team of scientists working to — get this — come up with new ways to feed us cheese.

This group, which a recent Bloomberg story called “the Illuminati of cheese,” embedded a highly-trained specialist with Taco Bell’s product development team to help dream up things like the “quesalupa,” a taco stuffed inside an additional cheese-infused shell.

Your tax dollars at work. I know when I file my taxes each year, I hope I’m contributing to the invention of a new fast food item.

Why does your government spend millions out of every budget on a SEAL Team 6 of junk food? Because even though every American stuffs his or her face with 35 pounds of cheese every year on average — twice as much as 40 years ago — our country’s dairy producers still way outpace demand.

Bloomberg reports that there’s still 1.3 billion pounds of cheese sitting in cold storage in the U.S. waiting patiently for a new burrito or pizza product to be crammed into. And dairy farmers literally poured out 50 million gallons of unsold milk last year.

So instead of more funding for programs to help farmers transition to new crops or programs to put excess food products in the hands people who are starving, we’re paying for chemists to sell us stretchy cheese tacos.

Hey, have I mentioned obesity’s a problem in this country, too?

In unrelated news, last night’s newsletter didn’t go out as scheduled, thanks to a bit of a glitch in the system. If you want to catch up, you can read it here.

What we’re talking about

A Cumberland County man is suing a debt collector for calling his cellphone, which he says violates the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. This is the second time he’s sued a debt collector for that, and in the previous case, he reached an undisclosed settlement with the collection firm. It may have even been enough to pay off his debts. 

You can adopt a dog who would have otherwise been somebody’s dinner. WGME, CBS 13, reports that the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland has at least one dog left from a group that was rescued from a meat farm in Korea. 

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, who’s typically very diplomatic, called a Texas congressman “huge” and “very unattractive” on a hot mic. This came after a senate colleague noted Collins could totally “beat the shit out of him.” In fairness, the Texas congressman had previously suggested he would challenge Collins to a duel over her opposition to Republican Obamacare repeal efforts. Collins and her Texan adversary have since apologized to each other.

Portland city councilors took issue with Mayor Ethan Strimling’s proposal to increase the number of affordable housing units developers are required to include in their projects under the city’s inclusionary zoning ordinance, according to the Portland Press Herald. At their meeting Monday night, councilors said their housing committee is already scheduled to review the ordinance this fall. Councilors said they felt Strimling’s suggestion of ordinance changes now is an attempt to influence that process and take credit for any positive results. In other business, the council narrowly approved a rezone of the 45-acre Camelot Farm in the Stroudwater neighborhood to allow for a 95-home development, the Press Herald reported.

Troy R. Bennett has this touching remembrance of John Joslin a beloved local biker, musician and cat lover. Troy wrote: “He represented everything I hold dear about Portland. He was vintage cool, creative, loved what he loved and didn’t pretend to be anything other than himself. As gentrification gobbles up whole neighborhoods, his passing can’t help but feel like a punctuation mark at the end of golden time for this city.”

Gov. Paul LePage vetoed bills intended to raise the legal age to buy tobacco and ban cellphone use while driving. The governor blasted the bills as “social engineering.” The Legislature will reconvene next month to vote on whether to override his vetoes on these and other bills. The cellphone ban is likely doomed, based on previous vote counts, but lawmakers may raise the tobacco age regardless of LePage’s opposition.

Tweet of the day

From @Abandoned_Pic:

The Big Idea

Farmers are using these vile worms as a new kind of pesticide. Nematodes come up from the soil, burrow into insects and devour them from the insides out. And the tiny wormlike things spit bacteria which makes their insect carcasses smell bad and glow, as sort of a warning for other larger bugs which might might otherwise want to snatch up the carcasses before the nematodes are done eating. Yes, I said “glow.” We’re talking about glowing insect corpses here.

Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email us at or or tweet @JZBleiberg or @SethKoenig.

If someone forwarded you this newsletter, click here to sign up. Or just text PORTLAND to 66866. As always, like BDN Portland on Facebook for more local coverage.