There’s a joke around our house about paying each other with knowledge. It all started one day when we were sitting around talking and my husband had mentioned how he had paid a bill over the phone and how he had randomly told the person who assisted him on the phone a little factoid. He then commented that he had not only paid the bill but also paid the representative with a little knowledge.

From then on it was a running joke in our house about paying this person or that person who we had seen that day with knowledge. We even joked about calling up the mortgage company and seeing if they would accept the house payment in pure, unadulterated knowledge.

Now most people might think that the only thing this knowledge would be good for are game shows and they would be correct. Otherwise this random knowledge is pretty much useless, especially as a form or currency. However, what would you think if I told you that unlike knowledge, cheese is a perfectly legitimate form of currency. In fact, there is even a bank that holds wheels of cheese as collateral for cheese makers. The Credito Emiliano Bank in Italy has a vault that can hold up to 440,000 wheels of Parmesan cheese worth about $180,000.

If this bank in Italy can loan money to cheese makers and keep cheese as collateral, imagine if a bank in Montana held cattle as collateral for ranchers? I’m not sure how much sense this makes. On one hand, I can see that it could be good because if the cheese makers have no other way to pay than in cheese, then that could really help them out. On the other hand, how are they supposed to sell the cheese to pay the bank back if the bank is holding their product? It’s hard to sell it if they don’t have possession of it. What would they tell people who want to buy cheese? Sorry, I know we are cheese makers, but we don’t have any cheese, but you can buy it at the bank.

Joy Larson is a mother of four boys, graduate of the University of Montana, animal lover and writer.