The United States
In terms of geography, the United States might be the most diverse cheese-making country, and again, when considering cheese, it's easier to think about geographical regions instead of the United States as a whole. The Northeast, including New York, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Vermont, with bitter cold winters and hot summers, was the first dairy region to be settled.
The second major region is the northern Midwest, including Wisconsin, Michigan, and parts of the surrounding states. Again, this region has enormous swings in climate, from cold winters to hot summers, but, as in the Northeast, the pastureland is green in summer and enough feed can be grown to support dairy herds through the cold of each winter.
The third major region is the West, with California leading, followed by Oregon, Washington, and parts of Colorado. Most dairy farming can be done in relatively temperate climates in the West, and many herds can feed on pastureland almost year-round.
Why do photographers tell people to say “cheese”?
Perhaps it's because the word is hard to say without moving your lips, but more than likely it's because the word “cheese” forces you to use the “eee” sound. Try saying “eee” without grinning. It's almost impossible. But really, wouldn't you rather say cheese?
The U.S. dairy industry started with cows, and cows continue to be the primary source of milk for most of the large, commercially produced cheeses, which are modeled after European favorites: Asiago, Camembert, Cheddar, Colby, Edam, Gouda, Gorgonzola, Havarti, Limburger, Muenster, mozzarella, Parmesan, and provolone. The United States also led the way in creating cold-pack cheese, which is several different cheeses processed together, and in creating spreadable cheese products with long shelf lives.
Over the past 25 years, artisan cheese makers throughout the country, but heavily concentrated in the Northeast, northern Midwest, and the West, have begun to make cheese from goat's and sheep's milk, and these cheeses have met with fantastic success. Instead of being uniform and produced for large commercial markets, they are mostly handmade and reflect the flavors of the regions where they are made.