Thought for food

The cheese aisle of your local supermarket is an unlikely place to study a classic political problem: How do we balance state power with individual freedom?

But for those with a trained eye, the variety, flavors, and textures of the products available have much to tell us. Cheese, says Heather Paxson, an associate professor in MIT's Department of Anthropology, is "a window into broader issues of politics and ethics." In this case, it reveals a conflict between the federal government and local producers that has been aging for two decades.


Melanie Gonick; additional images: Heather Paxon