Want cheese in the Midwest? Go to Madison, Wisconsin. Or if you’re too far from there, you can try Chicago, Milwaukee or Minneapolis.
Those are the top cities in the Midwest for cheese lovers according to a new report from LawnStarter. To celebrate National Cheese Lover’s Day — which is Jan. 20 — the company put together the 2023 Best Cities for Cheese Lovers list.
How to judge that Minneapolis is actually better for cheesies than San Diego, Dallas or Kansas City? LawnStarter looked at the 200 biggest U.S. cities and ranked them according to cheese access, quality, affordability and community interest.
According to LawnStarter, New York City ranks as the best city for cheese lovers, followed by Madison, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles. In the Midwest, Milwaukee comes in ninth place, while Minneapolis pulls up in the 15th spot. Kansas Cit ranks 25th on the list.
Madison earned its second-place ranking thanks to boasting what LawnStarter says is the strongest cheese community. It is also second only to Modesto, California, in the number of cheese factories and plants within its boundaries.
Why do Americans love cheese so much? LawnStarter asked several experts. Here’s what they said:
Jennifer Spencer, assistant professor and extension dairy specialist at the Department of Animal Science at Texas A&M University: After eating cheese, the fat releases endorphins, which are known to reduce stress and promote happy feelings.
Barry Bradford, C.E. Meadows endowed chair in dairy management and nutrition at the College of Agriculture & Natural Resources at Michigan State University: A lot of this is actually tied to our love of pizza. A surprisingly large proportion of the cheese made in the U.S. ends up on top of your favorite slice.
Vikram Mistry, interim associate dean of CAFES Academic Programs at South Dakota State University: America’s love for cheese originated with the arrival of the Europeans. Cheese was a common part of the diet of these groups. Dairy cows were also brought to support cheese-making operations and dairy processing in general. Over time, new ways of using cheese in the diet were discovered and the attraction to cheese expanded.
Here are some other interesting facts about the country’s top cheese cities:
- Most cheese shops per square mile: San Francisco
- Fewest cheese shops per square mile: Little Rock, Arkansas
- Most farmers markets offering cheese and dairy products: New York City
- Lowest average per-pound price for local cheese: Chesapeake, Virginia
- Highest average per-pound price for local cheese: Salinas, California
- Most cheese-and-wine meet-ups: New York City
- Fewest cheese-and-wine meet-ups: Orlando, Florida