The United States/ produces twenty-five percent/ of the world's cheese. A trade group, the Dairy Export Council, says/ producers/ made more than four million metric tons of it/ from cow's milk/ last year.
And the industry/ is growing. Cheese production/ increased/ by more than ten percent/ from two thousand one/ through the start of this year.
The state of Wisconsin/ in the Midwest/ leads the country/ in cheese production. Wisconsin/ faces strong competition/ from California. But another notable cheese-making state/ is Vermont.
Vermont/ is already famous/ for maple syrup. But local experts say/ that per person, it has the largest number/ of cheese-makers/ of any state. Vermont/ is a small state/ in the Northeast, on the border/ with Canada.
Cheese-makers/ in Vermont/ make more than one hundred kinds/ of cheese/ with milk/ from cows, sheep, goats and water buffalo. Cheeses/ made the traditional way/ use raw milk. The producers say/ the milk/ tastes better/ without going through the heating process/ of pasteurization.
Almost forty cheese-makers/ are along the Vermont Cheese Trail/ around the state. Many/ welcome visitors. The huge Cabot Creamery/ in Montpelier/ has a visitors center/ and offers guided tours.
In the fall, when many people/ come to Vermont/ to watch the leaves/ change color, Cabot/ may give as many as four hundred tours/ daily. Even in winter, about fifty to one hundred groups/ see Cabot's cheddar cheese/ in the making.
At the Three Owls Farm, visitors/ can pay to watch cheese/ being made/ from sheep's milk. They can even milk a sheep.
The University of Vermont/ offers classes/ in cheese-making/ through the Vermont Institute/ for Artisan Cheese. Teachers/ include visiting experts/ from other countries. Some recent classes/ were on English cheddar/ and Italian cheeses.
A man/ named Consider Bardwell/ built Vermont's first cheese factory/ in eighteen sixty-four. Today, the Consider Bardwell Farm/ still produces goat cheese.
The arrival of railroads/ long ago/ opened new markets/ to cheese/ from Vermont. Cheese/ traveled better/ than milk/ without the cold storage/ that came later. Refrigerated train cars meant/ that Vermont farmers/ could market their products/ widely.