Would you, could you, eat human cheese?

by DaniGirl on January 27, 2011 · 18 comments

in Life, the Universe and Everything

You know what’s great about blogging? The network of friends who know me and my bloggy style well enough to send me links to really quirky articles like this one about — are you ready for it? — human cheese.

Yes, you read that right. People are taking human milk, mixing it with goat or cow milk, and turning it into cheese for human consumption.

*pause while you all wince and shift uncomfortably in your chair*

I know, major ick factor, right? Me too. Until you start to think about it. On a biological level, it’s way more weird that we drink the milk of other animals — really, cows are disgusting, slobbery, unpleasant animals, and goats give me the willies — so why do we shudder at the idea of consuming human milk? The Globe and Mail article gets right to the crux of it with a quote from Miriam Simun, who is offering her human milk cheese online. “Many people feel uncomfortable because they don’t know the woman, or what she is eating – but how often do you know the cows of your cheese, and what they are eating?”

It’s funny, a couple of years back I blogged about the Lactation Station Breast Milk Bar, an art installation in Toronto that welcomed passers-by to consume 3 oz of the breast milk of strangers, and my reaction at the time landed somewhere between distaste and disturbed. Maybe I’ve mellowed over the years, or maybe another year and a half of nursing softened me up, but I think this is a kind of neat idea.

But as much as I’m trying to be open-minded, I have to admit that this bit also made me squirm:

Ms. Sumin mixed the women’s milk with cow’s or goat’s milk, and offers several spirited reviews on her website: “This spreadable deliciousness is a human-goat blend, made from two wonderful milks. A playful Vermont mountain goat herd milk tangos with the milk of a sweet lawyer’s assistant who hails from Wisconsin and is excited to become part of what she considers a ‘more acceptable and personal’ cheese. Her mostly organic diet full of meat is rich in flavor and spices – and boy does it come through in this darling little cheese!”

Too much information, methinks. (Although I did snicker at the fact that the milk supplier was from Wisconsin. They really are cheese people out there, aren’t they?) I think I’d be open to the idea of cheese made from *my* milk, but — and please don’t take this personally — I think I’d pass on yours.

Of course, you know I wrote this whole post just so I could ask you: what do you think? Would you eat human cheese?

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 2Hirondelles January 27, 2011 at 9:52 am

Definitely a thought-provoking question. My instinctive reaction is no, I would not eat human cheese. It strikes me as way too personal a sharing of bodily fluids with a total stranger.

2 bea January 27, 2011 at 10:01 am

I think that the idea of human cheese triggers two existing taboos – the taboo against cannibalism and the taboo against consuming anything else that comes out of the human body. These are taboos that we absorb at a pre-rational level – it’s not about logic or science, but rather a gut instinct that tells us to shy away from consuming anything that is made from or comes from another human body. By the time we’re old enough to absorb the taboo, we’ve already graduated from our earliest human food source and moved on to a diet in which animal foods play a major role. On a basic level, it makes perfect sense to me that we would readily eat cow or goat cheese and yet shy away from human cheese.

On a societal level, I do think that human cheese should create concerns. Who are the providers of the milk? What kind of financial needs/incentives would persuade a woman to turn her breastmilk into cheese? Right now it’s a novelty item that is being promoted mostly for shock value, and I think perhaps some people feel that the idea of human cheese will help promote a dialogue that would encourage people to overcome any “ick” factor they might feel about breastfeeding. But really, I think human cheese should be discouraged for the same reasons that we don’t allow the sale or human organs or human babies – there is something inherently dangerous about transforming the human body into a commercial product.

3 SleegsSkees January 27, 2011 at 10:09 am

An odd concept! Not one I think I can get my head around. Think I’ll pass for now.

4 Fawn January 27, 2011 at 12:20 pm

I read that article earlier in the week and it made me chuckle. The comments are pretty brutal to read, though; very knee-jerk reactions with absolutely no desire to try to see the other side.

On the other hand, I’ve tried my own milk (curious minds) and I think it’s disgusting. So I doubt I would like it any better in cheese form.

5 Sara January 27, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Oh *PUKE*.

No offense but I would not want any others breast milk anywhere near me. Mothers have a wonderful way to feed their babies and I am fine with that. Go ahead, nurse in public, I am fine with that. Try selling me on YOUR cheese, no thanks!

Not to make everyone loose their lunch (as I am writing this after lunch). I remember when some of my milk (don’t ask me how) got into my mouth. It was by far the worst thing I have ever tasted and I wondered how my son could be enjoying it. *Blah* Although, it is all he ever knew so I can’t blame him. lol.

6 liz January 27, 2011 at 1:53 pm

I’d try it. I tried my milk, and thought it tasted a lot like skim milk, so why not?

7 allison January 27, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Oh stop, you had me at ‘human-goat blend’. Also, hilarious visuals of Charlton Heston yelling “It’s people….peeeeeople!”. I don’t know. I’m way less squeamish about breast milk than most of my friends. My best friend said she tasted her milk and it was sour and horrible and she felt like she was poisoning her baby, so when we were away for the week-end and I was pumping she wanted to taste mine so I let her, and she said it was really good. I thought it tasted like the sugary milk left after you eat the cereal. Oh, I”m sorry, I’m high on cold medicine and now I’ve shared too much. I think on the whole human cheese’s time has not yet come.

8 Laura January 27, 2011 at 3:08 pm

No. Wait…let me think about it. Still a big…NO. I don’t like cheese on good days. Interesting topic though. 🙂

9 Amber January 27, 2011 at 7:15 pm

There was a sheep dairy at my farmer’s market, and I couldn’t even bring myself to eat THAT cheese. Why are cows and goats OK, but not sheep? I have no idea.

So, no, I would not eat the human cheese. While I consider myself a lactivist, and I am (honest and no joke) nursing my 2 1/2 year old right now as I type, I prefer my cheese to be a little more traditional.

It makes no sense, but there you have it.

10 Tania January 27, 2011 at 9:11 pm

I just threw up a bit in my mouth.

11 Tania January 27, 2011 at 9:13 pm

…and, hee hee, you said, ‘bloggy style’.

12 Batman January 27, 2011 at 10:33 pm

I’m going to have to say “no” as well. It’s an odd thing to consider and at the same time, it causes me to question why it’s okay to eat cow-sourced cheese. I don’t think society is ready for this sort of thing.

13 Allison P. January 27, 2011 at 11:57 pm

I could not, would not, in a house.
I would not, could not, with a mouse.
I would not eat it with a fox.
I would not eat it in a box.
I would not eat it here or there.
I would not eat it anywhere.
I would not, could not eat human milk!
That takes a different kind of ilk!

14 jennyandtim January 28, 2011 at 8:27 am

I have no problem eating cheese from cows or goats, and growing up on a farm I realize how dirty the animals may be. I also have nothing against breast milk.

However, I don’t think I could eat human cheese. I would wonder how sanitary the person, and their milk, was. I would worry that I would be getting cheese from someone who is a hoarder.

15 Coco January 28, 2011 at 9:23 am

That would be a big NO from me!

16 Batman January 28, 2011 at 6:56 pm

Mmmmmm….hoarder cheese…

17 Mary @ Parenthood January 30, 2011 at 12:11 am

These comments are awesome. I thought Bea’s were especially thought-provoking. And Allison P? Is brilliant.

It’s kind of weird to milk people though. Getting a setup to produce any kind of quantity of human cheese has all kinds of potential for abuse and exploitation. Breastfeeding is pretty hard on your body too – all kinds of ethical minefields if it became popular.

Furthermore, most farming industries have rules about feeding animals back into their own food chain. Eating human cheese sounds like crossing a line to me. I don’t think we feed cow cheese to cows either!

18 Mary @ Parenthood January 30, 2011 at 4:58 am

If you haven't read about human cheese yet, you should… 🙂 http://danigirl.ca/blog/2011/01/27/would-you-could-you-eat-human-cheese/

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