Love affair with cheese stronger than ever


PITTSFIELD -- Chef Matt Schweizer can confidently state the regular customers at Baba Louise's more than likely aren't lactose intolerant.

His customers -- whether they realize it or not -- are caught in a love affair with dairy, with cheese omnipresent on most of the dishes.

"It tops all of our pizzas," Schweizer said. "All our pastas have at least some parmesan. Some of our salads have cheese."

Baba Louise's enterprise is built, in part, on cheese. Schweizer said buys anywhere between 120 and 200 pounds of mozzarella every two weeks, and that doesn't include the purchase of cheddar, parmesan, asiago, goat cheese and other cheeses that serve as a building block for the restaurant.

Schweizer was poetic in describing that bond between pizza and cheese.

On pizza, "it's an essential ingredient ... it's vital," Schweizer said. "A pizza is like a haiku poem. Without the cheese, you're missing a few syllables and it's no longer a haiku poem."

Across the country, fewer people are drinking milk, but that hasn't decreased our consumption of dairy products, according to a report released in May by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The reports states that there has been a downward shift in milk drinking since the 1940s. A father born in the 1970s probably drank more milk than his son today. In change, the father probably drank less milk than his parents.

People aren't drinking milk with most of their meals anymore and there's a larger population that now forgo drinking milk altogether.

Between 1977-78 and 2007-08, the share of adolescents and adults who didn't drink milk on a given day rose from 41 percent to 54 percent.

Still, dairy consumption per capita has held relatively steady since the 1970s in part because of a tripling in cheese consumption.

That's a shame, the report states, because people are falling short of national dietary guidelines.

It should be no surprise milk provides calcium. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, calcium and dairy can lower the risk of osteoporosis and colon cancer, although an excessive intake can increase the risk of prostate cancer and possibly ovarian cancer.

Vitamin D plays a key role along with calcium in boosting bone growth.

Nonetheless, despite the decline in milk, there is still a special place in people's heart for dairy.

Just ask Schweizer when he's not adding cheese to the pizza: "If you don't have cheese, you're left with flat bread."


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