Written by Helen Fields 8.17.2015
Health-conscious people often frown upon dairy products. Cheese is popularly viewed as being a very unhealthy option contributing little to your health. However, cheese manufacturers across the states, including here in Wisconsin, are keen to change this assumption and prove that cheese is not only good to eat, but is also an integral part of a healthy, balanced diet(1). With the increase in people with poor diets due to a misunderstanding of what constitutes a healthy intake of food – marked by the variety of wacky, celebrity-endorsed diets and increasing number of eating disorder cases in the area – the dairy industry here has taken on the responsibility of providing accurate information about the health benefits of their products. Milk, cheese, and yogurt all contain elements essential to the functioning of your body including calcium for strong bones, protein for converting carbs into energy and building muscle, and vitamin D for building strong bones and teeth. Many people think that avoiding dairy altogether is the best option for their health, however, on closer review of what your body needs, a serving of three portions of dairy a day is closer to the facts. It is vital, however, that the produce is of a high enough quality to be considered beneficial.
The Health Benefits of Wisconsin’s cheese
Today’s consumers quite rightly demand quality from their food products and Wisconsin cheese industry insists its products sit comfortably within these expectations (2). It may well be the case that poor quality, processed cheese has little in the way of health benefits, but cheese and dairy products from Wisconsin have a proud heritage in which quality and value are a priority. The dairy farmers and manufacturers of Wisconsin cheese are all part of a continued quest to provide the best quality to everyone at every point of the cheese-making process. Strangely enough, this all starts with the cows.
Healthy cattle make healthy produce
At every dairy farm in Wisconsin, the farmers have learned that a healthy, happy cow is of much more use than an unhealthy, unhappy cow (3). There is an unrivalled dedication to keeping dairy farms clean and a fail-safe approach to farm management. With stringent regulatory requirements heartily followed by everyone in the industry, the quality of Wisconsin’s dairy produce gets off to a flying start. This dedication to quality begins on the farms, but is carried right the way through to your table. It’s important for your health and well-being to know that what you’re eating is of good quality and the dairy sector in Wisconsin certainly go out of their way to ensure this.
The proud history of Wisconsin cheese
The dedication to quality from everyone involved in the production of dairy here in Wisconsin stems from the proud tradition of dairy farming. Wisconsin’s dairy industry has roots in the Ice Age, when glaciers cut through the land leaving behind a land of rolling hills and deep green pastures (4).
Millions of years after this, when the first European immigrants came across this site, the pastures reminded them of the fertile lands they left behind. They started growing crops at first but dairy farming came closely after this. The quality of the land soon led to the farmers producing an abundance of milk, too much to consume before it went bad. In order to preserve the milk for longer, the farmers made cheese. At first this was for the farmer’s family and friends, but the success of the cheese production quickly evolved into a business.
Quality was always high on the agenda. Nearly a hundred years ago, in 1921, Wisconsin became the first state to grade its cheese for quality, leading the way for the whole of America. As a leader in the field, coupled with Wisconsin’s central location for distributing the product, enabled a quick growth. By 1922 there were already almost 3,000 cheese factories in operation in the state.
Wisconsin’s cheese industry today
The legacy continues today and Wisconsin proudly has more licensed cheesemakers than any other state. All cheesemakers here must also complete rigorous studies in dairy science before they are allowed to practice to ensure their dedication to quality. Wisconsin is only the only state to offer a program for Master Cheesemakers, based on the highly regarded cheesemaking methods of certain European countries (5). With cheese of this quality, you can safely assume that cheese made by a licensed Wisconsin cheesemaker is a great addition to your balanced diet (6).
1. http://www.healthyeating.org/Healthy-Eating/All-Star-Foods/Milk-Dairy.aspx, accessed 06/17/15
2. http://www.eatwisconsincheese.com/, accessed 06/17/15
3. http://www.eldan-recycling.com/content/happy-cows-better-milk-producers, accessed 06/17/15
4. http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/turningpoints/tp-028/?action=more_essay, accessed 06/17/15