The Suitcase Lady

Lactococcus

April 27, 2010, 10:25 pm

How was I to know?

Lactococcus lactis is part of my “culture and heritage”. Does that make me uncultured for not knowing about this culture’s importance, or, to be honest, not knowing about it at all? L.lactis is the microbe which changes milk into many varieties of cheese.

The Assembly in my fair state, Wisconsin, has passed a bill designating Lactococcus lactis as our official state microbe. Since our State Senate has yet to vote, Lactococcus is lobbying hard. How many other bacterium have their own home pages? (The Lactococcus lactis Home Page)

At the risk of sounding like a disloyal cheesehead, I am a bit upset about the designation. The fact that my state has been made a laughing stock by the media doesn’t faze me. Living in a place where people don large wedges of foam cheese on their heads, I don’t fret much about the state’s image.

No, I am upset because the candidate that I am backing for state designation is languishing in some committee over in Madison. How can our state go ” Forward” (our state motto) when we have not made cheese our  OFFICIAL STATE SNACK?

I am proud to know the guiding light behind the “cheese as state snack movement”. She does not own a large cheese plant. The woman who got the cheese ball rolling is one of the best teachers of fourth grade Wisconsin history I’ve ever meet. She’s recently retired, but,  for many years, every kid who set foot in her classroom in September emerged as a young history buff in June. She immersed them, and they are all Badgers for life. Furthermore, her students know why we are called Badgers. (The early lead miners who flocked to Southwestern Wisconsin initially lived in holes in the ground just like badgers).

Numerous field trips were part of her curriculum. I was lucky enough to accompany many of her classes on “The Frank Lloyd Wright, Cheese Factory and U of W Ice Cream Plant Tour.” That is how I, at the age of 55, finally learned how cheese is made.

Before she retired, this teacher and her class got the idea to nominate cheese as the official state snack. Letters were written, representatives were contacted and hearings attended.

I seriously doubt that the microbe is happy about all the fuss being made about it. I do know these kids would be thrilled if their bill passes. They are eighth graders now and are still attending hearings with their retired teacher.

Unfortunately, I know how the kids can get some action. They need to have a massive bake sale and donate all the money to the campaign funds of numerous state legislators. Now that would be a realistic civics lesson.


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