Thursday, September 4, 2014

Jim Gaffigan: Wisconsin and Cheese

Let's talk about cheese.

Given: Wisconsin is "America's Dairyland." We are proud of our cheese. Good stuff.

However, it has not been my experience, living in Wisconsin my entire life, that everything we eat is drowned in cheese.

Am I the exception? Are my family and friends unusual in that sense?

Don't get me wrong. I embrace the whole Cheesehead thing. I love seeing our dairy cows out in the fields, mooing and chewing - quintessential Wisconsin. Cheese is good.

Cheese Production and Consumption Facts here.

---U.S. per person cheese consumption was 32.8 pounds in 2009, a slight increase from the previous year. Cheddar cheese and mozzarella cheese remain the most popular varieties of cheese. Americans typically consume 10 pounds of cheddar and 10.6 pounds of mozzarella yearly.

Overall cheese consumption continues to increase due to its versatility and adaptability to recipes, more available varieties and more women employed outside of the home. The consumer shift from at-home food preparation to purchases of partially or fully prepared foods has also benefited cheese sales.

Another contributing factor to cheese popularity in the United States has been mainstream acceptance of ethnic cooking, such as Italian and Mexican, which use substantially more cheese. The popularity of Latino foods and Hispanic cheeses is at an all-time high.

---Increased cheese consumption can be attributed, in part, to growth in specialty, artisanal and farmstead cheeses.

---Internationally, Greece has the highest per person annual consumption of cheese, 82 pounds. Citizens of France and Germany also consume more cheese per year than Americans, 52 pounds and 45 pounds, respectively.
Cheese Statistics here.

More here.

Europeans consume way more cheese than we do. Interesting that the bloated Americans eat less.

Wisconsin produces the most cheese in the United States. It makes sense that we would highlight our product, but it's not like it's on or in all our food.

I don't see more cheese featured in Wisconsin restaurants, or in home-cooked meals for that matter, than in other states across the country.

Jim Gaffigan, comedian and author of the new book, Food: A Love Story, is married to a woman from Wisconsin. Obviously, he knows the state and has family ties here and he loves the cheese.

I just don't think we're that much more cheesy than other parts of the country. That's not my experience.

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