In just a couple of weeks, it will be June! Out of all 12 months, June ranks high on my list of favorites.
June brings the summer solstice — welcoming in my favorite season and the end of school for kindergarten through high school students. It brings warm (hopefully) weather, and a day to celebrate all the father figures in our lives. But maybe most importantly for Wisconsinites, June brings a monthlong celebration honoring our state’s dairy farmers and processors.
This June Dairy Month, I challenge you to eat and eat and eat more cheese. With over 600 styles and varieties of cheese produced in Wisconsin, there has to be one you have not tried yet.
My favorite cheese is jalapeño juustoleipa (pronounced hoo-stah-lee-pah), and not just because it is fun to say! This cheese is often referred to as bread cheese, thanks to its light crust, similar to toasted bread. Juustoleipa starts out as a mild white cheese and is then baked to perfection. The result? Buttery, slightly caramelized, mouthwatering cheese. Juustoleipa softens but does not melt when it is warmed, so it is a “grate” choice for frying on the griddle.
Throughout the month of June, as you are eating your Wisconsin cheese, you can be proud of our state’s cheesemaking heritage. Dating back over 175 years, cheese has been made in Wisconsin since before we were a state. These historic roots as cheesemakers have no doubt help shape our rich Wisconsin culture.
Of course, all of this cheese “curd” not be possible without our 1.28 million cows that call Wisconsin home, and their dedicated farmers. As a dairy farm girl myself, I can attest to the care and compassion we show each of our cows on my family’s dairy farm. Our cows are like family, and we celebrate them this June, too. High-quality milk produced on our dairy farms leads to high-quality dairy products produced in our dairy plants.
Thank you, Wisconsin
It seems only fitting that my time as Wisconsin’s 72nd Alice in Dairyland began and will (almost) end in June. The month of June has always been a favorite of mine, because it has been a chance to showcase my family’s dedication to feeding our community. This year and last, my voice has been amplified across the state, as I share the story of farm families like mine, from Superior to Kenosha. Whether I was talking to elementary school students or senior citizens, my audience always agreed that it is our dairy roots that make America’s Dairyland such a special place to live.
So, I say to you, thank you, Wisconsin agriculturists, for sharing in this journey with me. Whether we met on a hot and sweaty day at the county fair, a rainy day at World Dairy Expo, or never in person but instead through my monthly articles — know that I am grateful for you. I truly believe the people in our industry are what make our community so special.
As I complete this once-in-a-lifetime year, I raise a glass of milk to you — the farmers, the veterinarians, the nutritionists, the milk haulers, the processors, the grocers and everyone involved from cow to cup — to say thank you, and happy June Dairy Month!
Martin is the 72nd Alice in Dairyland.