A State Microbe For Cheese-Crazed Wisconsin?
A: Great name for that blog.
ELIO SCHAECHTER: Well, thank you very much.
: Can you tell us a little bit more about Lactococcus lactis?
SCHAECHTER: This is the first thing you do with - towards making cheese. You gather the curds, and now you add other bacteria or molds, and you make things like Roquefort cheese or brie or cheddar. But it often starts with Lactococcus.
: So this seems to be a perfect bug for Wisconsin.
SCHAECHTER: Absolutely. I can see that it's lightly amusing, but let me tell you from a microbiologist's point of view, this isn't just fun. The state of Wisconsin could do very well without its state animal, the badger, or without the state dance, the polka. But it couldn't do without bacteria because none of us could.
: You know, you say this is amusing to some, but if you spend any time in Wisconsin, you realize that there's nothing amusing about cheese there. They take it very seriously. Just tune in to a Green Bay Packers game and see all those people with cheese on their heads.
SCHAECHTER: Well, they also might sport a little flag that says Lactococcus is here to stay.
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
: If this bill actually passes, Wisconsin will most likely be the only state in the union to have an official microbe, but do you think other states should follow suit, and do you have any suggestions?
SCHAECHTER: Why not? Sure, well, I live in California, and I strongly urge California to adopt yeast. Without yeast, we wouldn't have bread, and we wouldn't have beer, and certainly we wouldn't have wine. Now, this is important to California, all right.
: Elio Schaechter, thanks so much.
SCHAECHTER: My pleasure.
: Elio Schaechter is an adjunct professor at UC San Diego, and listeners, we want to hear from you. What should your state microbe be? You can write to us at npr.org. Just click on contact us, and please include microbe in your subject line.
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