The top story in today's New York Times Dining area is one that we blogged back in March: national grocery store chain Kroger is partnering with New York's Murray's Cheese "to bring cheese to a wide audience." We are happy fans of good cheese, but we have slightly mixed feelings about this story.
On the one hand we love cheese, and we are always in favor of better education and more options in our local grocery store. Having Murray's at Kroger is going to expand the options of some shoppers who may never make it to a specialty cheese shop.
On the other hand, we have a hunch that these Murray's/Kroger partnerships are going to show up in neighborhoods that are sophisticated and affluent enough to already have a good cheese shop, or a Whole Foods, which runs a very good cheese counter. What about a Murrays/Kroger partnership in more urban or less affluent areas?
But the real thing that is a little annoying about this particular blog piece is the assumption that New York has to bring class to the mass of the Midwest. We have a fabulous cheese shop (several, in fact) in our small Midwestern city already, and while having the convenience of Murray's in Kroger may be appealing, it's hardly going to be the only option in town.
Also, let's not forget that some of America's best cheese is produced right here in the Midwest. Even though Murray's has to develop new distribution systems (the blog post says: "Murray's Cheese products have to be delivered from New York to the Ohio supermarkets" - gosh) we really wonder if a lot of that gourmet cheese isn't going to be shipped from much closer than New York. We were just visiting with some ladies from Wisconsin who were raving about their local ten-year aged Cheddar - similar to fine old Gouda.
Overall we think this is a good partnership, but we're probably not going to give up our relationship with our local cheesemonger when Murray's moves up I-71 to Columbus Kroger stores. What do you think? Murray's Cheese in Kroger - good thing, or mixed feelings?
• Read the New York Times blog article here: Mass Meets Class for Artisanal Cheeses
Related: Our original post on the partnership: (Good) News from the Cheese Front: Murray's Cheese Partners With Kroger
Image: Jim Callaway for The New York Times