Let’s get this out of the way up front: Aaron Rodgers is not from Wisconsin. He was born and lived most of his life in California – Chico, no less. He attended the University of California, Berkeley: a college located in a city known for embracing alternative culture. At Berkeley, you can probably major in high-minded dietary choices.
Of course, now that he’s spent more than a decade in Green Bay, bringing the storied franchise a Super Bowl along the way, most of us have reframed the California boy as a Wisconsinite. But outside of football, he has no real ethical obligation to pretend he has Wisconsin roots. If he wants to give up cheese, that’s up to him.
And yet, on Monday, when the quarterback told Packer News that he had given up dairy, the entire country seemed to recoil in shock. “I just wanted to get healthier,” said Rodgers, who had knee surgery during this off-season. “I’ve done a lot of research and talked with Adam Korzun, our nutritionist, and some other friends around the league about how I can extend my career and how I can be and feel healthier. Through your eating, you can reduce inflammation. Because if you do research, you learn the different foods you eat can actually increase the inflammation in your body — and especially in certain parts of your body.” In the end, he settled on “more of a vegan diet … with some red meat at times and some chicken, but [I] tried to stick to a lot of fruits and vegetables — but mostly vegetables.”
Admittedly, it’s a pretty big stance to take for a team whose diehard fans don cheese-shaped headgear. Even the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board felt the need to chime in, reminding Rodgers, “He does need to be careful to consume the important protein and calcium he needs for strong muscles and bones” – as if the entire state was his protective Midwestern mother.
But this is just what happens when you let some Berkeley hippie become the biggest name in town. Sure, “Tofuheads” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, but at this point Wisconsin, it’s probably only a matter of time.