When laws are enacted, you would assume it’s for the greater good. Okay, so maybe that’s debatable, but most of the time, that’s what laws are meant to do. You would also assume that the lawmakers have thoroughly studied all the possible impacts. Again debatable.
But some laws are just so weird that you might think someone just told a joke. And, well, they’re real laws. One such law comes from Wisconsin, and it all has to do with cheese.
As many people know, Wisconsin is extremely popular for its cheese. According to Travel Wisconsin, the state is America’s dairyland. There are an estimated 1 million cows in Wisconsin’s farms; that’s about five cows for every resident. The state produces so much dairy that about 90 percent of it is turned into cheese. And Wisconsin makes more than 2.8 million pounds of cheese every year, so yeah, they know their cheese. And if you’re not a fan of certain cheeses, not to worry, Wisconsin makes and sells about 600 kinds for all sorts of lovers of the dairy product.
Cheese is so vital to Wisconsin that it even has an entire festival dedicated to it. The Great Wisconsin Cheese Festival is held every June (also coincidentally National Dairy Month) and features music, games, free cheese samples, a parade, and a wheel-of-cheese carving contest. Of course, you can get other food, but why?
So Wisconsin takes cheese incredibly seriously. Maybe not Great Cheese Riot serious, but it comes close.
What is highly pleasing?
But in a bid to control its cheese quality, the Wisconsin State Legislature passed the Wisconsin Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection rule in 2016. The law states that any cheese the state produces must be “highly pleasing and free from undesirable flavors and odors, except that the cheese may have a very slight feed flavor.”
As the law firm Nicolet Law wrote, the law makes it clear that some cheeses should be either highly pleasing or fairly pleasing. For example, grade-AA cheddar has to be highly pleasing and grade-B cheddar, on the other hand, can be only fairly pleasing. Each type of cheese, from Colby to muenster, has to meet those standards.
Now, other countries have laws that ensure the quality of their products. But, often, these laws only standardize the methods or talk about what the thing should look like. Not many of these rules tell makers how delicious things should be.
But the law doesn’t actually explain what makes something “highly” pleasing compared to something just being “fairly” pleasing. After all, taste is very subjective. It’s probably not easy to police that.
Wisconsin’s cheese rule at least offers some idea of what people should expect from their cheese. The law defines 18 flavor characteristics and 20 for texture and body. So watch out for words like coarse, corky, crumbly, gassy, mealy, open, pasty, pinny, reasonably firm, smooth, translucent, and waxy. Sure, it doesn’t say how tasty something is, but it’s a start.
Colby vs. cheddar
Wisconsin may also be looking to pass another cheese law. CNN reported that Wisconsin is in the middle of figuring out what their state cheese should be. Cheese is the state dairy product, something enshrined only in 2017.
Now, it must be hard to choose just one kind of cheese to represent an entire state when it makes 600 varieties of cheese.
Not so hard if some lawmakers have their way. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said people want Wisconsin to declare Colby cheese as the official Wisconsin state cheese. The politicians noted Colby was first developed in the city of Colby in Wisconsin in 1885. A factory that produces that cheese was built in the town three years later.
Politicians from the city proposed that Colby become the state cheese before, back in 1997, but this was blocked. People were worried that if they chose one cheese out of all the others, it could undercut the hundreds of other cheeses it produces. It might send a message that the other kinds of cheeses are somehow less worthy.
They’re trying again in 2021, so maybe this is the year the cheese state will finally have an official cheese. And if that’s the case, they better hope it tastes “highly pleasing.”
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