Wisconsin has long been considered “America’s Dairyland.” The state produces the majority of America’s cheese, with California trailing not far behind, but oddly enough cheese was never embraced as the state’s official food. Until now.
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Today, on World Milk Day, appropriately enough, Wisconsin’s state legislature named cheese the official state dairy product. Cheese joins the dairy cow, the domestic animal that represents the state, and milk, the official state beverage.
Wisconsin produces truly astonishing amounts of cheese every year — around three billion pounds — a feat for which they deserve our thanks and praise. It’s also the only place outside of Europe to offer the prestigious Master Cheesemaker title to experts of the industry.
What did it take to elevate cheese to this revered status in Wisconsin? A group of fourth graders from Mineral Point, who lobbied their state senators to make cheese a state symbol back in January.
Wisconsin governor Scott Walker signed the declaration into law at Mineral Point Elementary, where the movement began, and had fresh cheese curds on hand for the fourth graders to enjoy.
"The students are absolutely thrilled that their voices have been heard," Livia Doyle, a fourth grade teacher at Mineral Point Elementary School, gushed. "Being a part of this legislative process has been more meaningful and educational than ever imagined.”
Given that Wisconsin is nearly synonymous with American cheese, it seems just a bit strange that it took a group of actual children to push the legislature to do what seems like a pretty obvious idea to the rest of us. But hey, if the kids got to participate in government and eat free cheese, more power to them.