Fellow cheese professionals, I have a question for you. I really want your input.
I realize this is the worst possible time to ask a question like this. We are all – if we are real cheese professionals – super busy with the main food holiday of the year only days away. I am writing this in the couple of hours I have this morning before I have to go back and sell more cheese. Still, I keep getting requests in my email and facebook about taking the American Cheese Society Certification Exam for Cheese Professionals.
I simply don’t feel like I can take this test until the arbitrary and unnecessary requirement of a high school diploma or GED is dropped.
There is absolutely no reason for this requirement. If one can pass the test, level of schooling simply doesn’t matter. I have no idea why this was added in, it certainly wasn’t there the last time I looked at the proposed guidelines (Which admittedly has been awhile. Since I couldn’t attend last year’s conference I could not be a part of the working group and didn’t read the latest changes before they were adopted).
This whole process has given me pause. In 2006 when it was brought to the conference there was no requirement for experience in order to pass the (proposed) exam. Nor was their anything about basic health and safety requirements for food handling. These are two examples that seem to indicate the idea for this certification was envisioned by somehow who doesn’t actively work in cheese.
In my experience, there is no one path to working in cheese. There are PhDs and high school dropouts, ex-cops and punk rockers, kids of farmers and people who have never lived outside of a city. And there is also the group that would likely be the most affected by this requirement: immigrants.
Let’s be honest for a second. Try and picture the cheese world without immigrants… In large parts of the country we wouldn’t even have the milk to start the process of cheesemaking without Latino and Eastern European labor. The people driving the trucks and packing the pallets? Many of them weren’t born in the United States. The people cutting, wrapping, and selling cheese in urban grocery stores? They reflect the demographics of their cities. There are people who’ve been working in cheese longer than I have who did not have schooling in the United States. Do they have high school diplomas or GEDs?
I have no idea. And why should I? High school diploma or GED is simply not a measure of intelligence or ability to talk to a customer about cheese. I don’t know how many people this would affect, or how many of them even care about this certification exam, but the time to get rid of stupid and unnecessary requirements is at the beginning.
So here it is… even though I meet the requirements, I don’t feel I can take the exam until this barrier is eliminated. How do you feel about it?
*There was a discussion forum for this exam sponsored by the ACS but I can’t seem to find it. Oh actually, I just found the link and it doesn’t work anymore. Odd.