Would You Eat Human Cheese?

Via on Jan 15, 2011

Would you be willing to eat Human Cheese?

The idea repulses me, and I’m guessing it repulses you too.  Why is that?

This is one of the questions that New York University graduate student Miriam Simun poses with her Human Cheese Project.  She has manufactured human cheese from the breast milk of two women who were overproducing and saving their milk in freezers, finding it too painful to throw away.

The purpose of Simun’s project is to inspire conversation about food systems, bio-technology, and the human body.  In her project description, she asks:

As global urban populations increase, developing nations industrialize, and energy, water and land become ever more scarce resources, how will we redesign our food systems to produce healthier, kinder, more sustainably and efficiently produced food?

As we navigate the complex landscape of technologically modified food production, how do we understand what is natural, healthy, ethical?

Other questions naturally arise, like: Is it exploitative of the women who provide the milk?  Is it okay for Vegans to eat human cheese?  Is it cannibalistic?

And, of course, the obvious sociological question arises: Why is it that we don’t cringe at the thought of eating cow’s milk, goat’s milk, or even sheep’s milk, while the thought of eating human milk, which we are biologically equipped to consume, repulses us?

So…is human cheese a reasonable, humane, healthy, kinder alternative?

And more importantly, how does it taste?

It looks like Simun isn’t the only person experimenting with human cheese.  This New York chef came up with a recipe using his wife’s breast-milk:

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30 Responses to “Would You Eat Human Cheese?”

  1. elephantjournal says:

    fascinating..and the questions, the thoughts,the possibilities, the attitudes called forth are absolutely fascinating. i think this will something revisited more in the future, thanks for interesting story!

  2. Juliana says:

    From http://www.facebook.com/elephantjournal

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    Rosalind C No. Ew.

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    Colin S T Why not, I used to drink human milk.

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    Jewl B I drank milk wen I was a baby. I eat solids now. How many humans are you going to raise and milk to make enough cheese for everyone?

    #
    Lisa T. B If you've been weaned, you don't need *any* kind of milk. Besides, why not feed any extra breast milk to human babies who can't get it from their moms?
    Cheese is a really concentrated form of milk, anyway – very unhealthy.
    about an hour ago · LikeUnlike · 1 personElaine Bruce Haynes likes this. ·
    #
    elephantjournal.com Be sure you're reading before commenting! It makes interesting points… ~ W

    #
    Danielle J I think it should say in your title "Would you eat Breast Milk Cheese"? Human cheese sounds wrong!

    #
    Jewl B Ok yes I just read the title was being tongue in cheek… No time to read it at the moment but I will do that tomorrow :)

    #
    Katherine C
    ‎"Is it exploitative of the women who provide the milk? Is it okay for Vegans to eat human cheese? Is it cannibalistic?"

    A) These questions are ludicrous given the way we currently harvest milk from other mammals.

    B) I think the reason it repulses me is because I know what most of us humans are eating, and it's disgusting. Garbage in, garbage out.

  3. Jay Winston says:

    If it’s done on a micro scale, as described above–left over milk from breast feeding women, I see nothing wrong with it.

    If, on the other hand, it were to become commercially viable…then it’d get exploitative (and grotesque) fast…

  4. Juliana says:

    from http://www.facebook.com/elephantjournal

    #
    Kaila C I did read it, and I agree it makes interesting points. I visited a milking shed a couple of years ago it struck me quite hard that we are drinking liquid expelled from the sexual organs of a cow… from a biological perspective, there's not much difference between that and drinking cow semen!

    #
    Rosalind C I will never look at a cow in quite the same way now…

    #
    Elaine Bruce H ‎@Kaila…. mammary gland is not a sexual organ, it has only been sexualized in our society. the purpose of mammary gland of any animal (human or not) is to provide milk for it's young.

    #
    Michele Z Breastmilk will heal the human race. It is only in the US, where a man cannot own, therefore cannot TAX, mother's milk, that it is rejected.

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    Katherine C Breasts are not sex organs. They may be erogenous zones in certain psychological contexts, but I don't think mothers are generally having sex with their babies.

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    Laurie C Ney ‎@Danielle: Breast Milk Cheese is what people who eat ANY cheese eat. Cow breast, Goat breast, dog, cat, whale, you name it. They are all breast milk. So, actually the only way to distinguish it IS to call it Human Cheese. I just don't understand why people who will eat cheese and drink milk from a COW (ew!) would balk at consuming the SAME product from a human. At least that is something that we are designed to consume – at least for the first few years of our lives.

    #
    Laurie C N ‎@Jewl – we could have human dairy farms!!! Give the poor cows a break!

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    Kyle Bryan B It is cannibalism in my POV, and cannibalism is not vegan ethically or technically. I think it is disgusting but not any more than eating animal products.

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    Toby B ‎@ kat.. you can still have sex with Breasts ! If the woman wears a Bra could it be thought of as free range milk? How is it in grilled cheese?@ Julieanna you are never an Ex Texan… unless you went to A&M!!!

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    Donna T I think I'll stick with the cows, thanks!

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    Nathan C Where can I get some?

  5. Brigida says:

    I think it is gross unless they eat real food.

  6. Maybe on a pizza…

    …just kidding!

  7. @tishushu says:

    The folks who reject this may be the same one who ooh and aah over kittens and puppies then chomp burgers… Meat is meat, milk is milk.

  8. Joe says:

    I'm more interested in knowing why the author was "kicked out of Karme Choling".

  9. Juliana says:

    from http://www.facebook.com/elephantjournal

    elephantjournal.com said:
    Vegans refuse to eat animal flesh or dairy. There's a surplus of human milk, apparently (see video etc below). Meat eaters don't mind killing for pleasure, or eating animal dairy which involves killing of animals. So why don't we all eat human dairy, if it's freely available, healthy, yummy (see below!) and possibly healthier for us? #justwonderin

    #
    Michael L Well I know what Charlton Heston would say.

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    Sonya B Is that like helmet cheese? awwwww

    #
    Carolyn B Actually, human cheese makes sense. Human milk is "produced" for humans. Cow's milk is "produced" for cows. Cows don't drink human milk!

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    Fern E G This is f!#*ing disgusting.

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    Trula Ione Earthgarden LOL

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    Darren R Imagine what the pictures on the packaging would look like!
    ·
    #
    Joe A I wouldn't go out of my way to eat it, but I don't think it's *inherently* disgusting. Not sure if anyone remembers the following story from Switzerland: http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/Home/Archive/Breast_m

    #
    Kristine M How is it more disgusting than consuming dairy from goats or cows?

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    Joe A Dairy from goats and cows isn't inherently disgusting either, but thank you for insulting me.

    #
    Monica C This seems only natural and makes alot of sense and yet I find it disgusting.

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    Heather S Uummmm, gross!

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    Justin V I'll totally do it! Bring it on!

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    Joe E ‎"Meat eaters don't mind killing for pleasure"
    You sure about that?

    #
    Chuck L Gross.

    Wait… straight out of the dispenser?

    Nope. Gross.

    #
    Joe A Joe E: All kinds of misinformation couched as journalism here. "eating animal dairy which involves killing of animals"… Oh really, how do you know where I source my dairy? Maybe I milk my own goats and sheep.

    #
    Joe A Way to turn off and alienate your meat- and dairy-eating readership, EJ. "Meat eaters don't mind killing for pleasure." What a diplomatically worded sentence.
    about an hour ago · LikeUnlike · 1 personLoading… ·

    #
    Joe E I agree Joe. They are sweeping generalizations that are not only inaccurate but also counterproductive.
    ·
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    Sandra S hmmm….I never thought about it….But I know if you throw-up human milk it dosen't stain….LOL

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    Cheryl T sorry this is a party for the uninformed…silly, silly, silly people….
    Apparently no one commenting here has engaged in sex either…get a grip….. grab ur ears and pull hard…wont take musch energy to relieve the pressure in such small …minds!! Bah ha ha!
    @ Joe u need to be in the foreign diplomatic corp for Iran…good lord y'all
    Dairy allergy most common allergy shared among the human population….Breast milk disgusting….oh I would love to really talk about disgusting…but why?See More

    #
    Joe A I beg your pardon, Cheryl?

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    Sandra S Cheryl you make a good point!

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    Adenia L can you say wet nurse?

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    Matt Z I am a meat eater and consume some dairy. And although I won't be springing to be first in line for some, the idea of eating human dairy does not sound so disgusting to me. Killing for pleasure does. Why would EJ allow such a blatantly ignorant statement to be published under their name like this? Seriously let down.

    #
    elephantjournal.com Joe, Joe E., I didn't mean to be offensive…I just was saying that meat eaters obviously make a decision that it's more important to eat animals for pleasure and/or health than it is to spare a life. As for dairy, my admittedly limited und.erstanding is that dairy–even backyard dairy, which I doubt you use 100%, results in the killing of males and the continual, lifelong impregnation of females.

    #
    Joe A I suppose anyone who's not a strict, non-leather-using vegan "doesn't mind killing for pleasure"… which is just a strange, inelegant way to phrase that. I'm not even antagonistic toward vegetarianism/veganism; I know that I've made a personal ethical compromise in being a meat eater. I didn't realize that EJ hewed to a vegan philosophy.

    #
    Juliana M Joe, I wrote the article. I'm not vegan. I don't think EJ hews to a vegan philosophy, but I'll let Waylon speak for himself.

  10. Milo says:

    A Swiss gastronomist has stirred a controversy in the tranquil Alpine republic after announcing that he will serve meals cooked with human breast milk. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howabo

  11. Alice says:

    We shouldn't be consuming breast milk/cheese from any species – whether cow or human, but human milk would be much more natural to our bodies than the milk/hormones, etc. from cows. Humans are the only species that forcibly impregnate cows (rape), steal the breastmilk from the baby and then eat the baby (veal). Adult cows don't even drink their own milk – why do we! All freakish cruelty aside, cow's milk is also one of the most common allergens in the world and a know instigator of other allergies, (let alone cancer, heart disease, high cholesterol, bad fat, etc.)

  12. Juliana says:

    from http://www.facebook.com/elephantjournal

    #
    Joe A I think it was more the intro blurb than the article itself, Juliana.

    #
    Joe A Juliana: By the way, I really like the article, and the question it raises: Why *does* this idea tend to repulse people more than the idea of eating animal milk? I'd venture it's because we can more easily dissociate ourselves from an animal secretion than from a human one.

    #
    Sandra S I eat meat and dairy and I understand your point. It is killing for my pleasure of tast. although I have lesson the amount of meat and dariy I'm still taken pleasure in the tast of meat and dairy.

    #
    Mary Ann P
    to Joe's point – I think we are "very" disassociated with what we eat in general. Many aren't aware that cows must be pregnant to produce milk…really. EJ should not apologize for the introduction – it is the truth and this is a website de…signed to provoke contemplation and growth. If it offends (likely only those who eat meat), then we should ask ourselves why. Why does it strike a nerve that we are eating meat for pleasure and not necessity? Why are we stealing breast milk from another species and eating their babies (veal), a byproduct of the milk industry? Why are we doing this to them? Not to mention harming our health, environment and straining our health care system on top of it? GREAT thought provoking article Juliana AND intro, EJ!!See More

    #
    Gill S Bet most wouldn't want to saying it's gross yet they're quite happy on other dairy . Small minds I guess

    #
    Leslie K Why the barbs? It's a choice! You all are not in our shopping baskets or our backyards… you don't know what farm practices we support. Please stop with the judging.

    #
    Joe E Its not really about being offensive. I don't think the original statement was offensive. It does however in my opinion go too far in its generalization. Participating in the meat industry at any level is clearly unethical, but how about indigenous peoples who depend on animal husbandry for survival? Are they too "killing for pleasure"? I think not. Proselytizing vegetarian rhetoric can be just as much of a turn off for many people as evangelical religious proselytizing.

    #
    Joe E When blanket statements are made they diminish the effectiveness of the original argument.

  13. deZengo says:

    I wondered if anyone I knew had responded to this – it appears so.
    I think my issue is, I do NOT now want women to be seen as "milk" producing cows … I suggest people stop eating or keep it in their family – cuz prefer to do without. Also, just FYI :: breast milk has now been found to also include many many toxins that are NOT really good for baby or those wishing to indulge in the "human cheese / breast milk" delicacy!
    If you think about it .. we are given many of the same type of disease preventing injections in the current society we live in. As beautiful as nursing our baby and providing nourishment is … I am not sure that a society of women will agree to become the "new milk producing machines?" OF course if the price is right … who knows? Thanks for sharing this.
    Love & Light!
    deZengo

  14. TimesNewRoman says:

    Would I eat human cheese? It probably depends on the human, to be honest. But since I'm apparently willing to pay a lot of money to buy human milk from a bank in Denver and feed it to my newborn, then I suppose I would have to wonder why I myself would be above consuming it.

  15. iloveginger says:

    WOW def thought provoking. yes, i stopped consuming cows milk because im not a baby calf. when in civilization did humans even starting drinking from cows and goats? the dairy council has most people tricked. #read.the.china.study

  16. Heather Grimes says:

    This is a totally incredible notion. My mind just cracked a knuckle.

  17. Robert Durbin says:

    The PETA dosen't have everything right with there Ideas. The Cow thing is what we do and love the milk and meat. But they did stumble on to something that should work. I came a cross a few stories some real and some scify about Human breast milk. Well I came up with my own idea about this hole thing on Breast milk Farm. A biulding in several parts that can handle several 100 females at a time. In one part there is a health department that checks the women for any thing wrong and puts them on a healthy diet. They keep tabs on all to check there milk, health, and any thing elss that may be wrong.

  18. Robert Durbin says:

    Then they goto another room to be pumped. They could read, watch TV, exersize, or any thing elss that they want as long as the pumps are sucure to there breast. If they have kids there are other rooms for them, a daycare for who ever comes. If they have a baby there is always a supply of milk.
    The combind milk before and after testing would go to the daycare and to the next room that would bottle it and sent it to all the local stors an other veders. The female that show up at this place would be taken care of in many ways and leave with some cash for there milk. Then once there milk starts flowing then they could do it any where with one of my portable breastpumps that you can whare any where. Then just bring the milk to the bilding to be tested and put into the systerm.

  19. Robert Durbin says:

    system. They would get some milk money for each drop off and new bottels to fill when they wish or can. This Idea benifits all females who wish to use it in many ways, It would boost the econimy $$$, provide a new resors for all, and can boost alot of other things. Who ever reads this can reach me at rwdisland@yahoo.com

  20. [...] cheese, too, if you’re still hungry (see countless comments here). [...]

  21. [...] always been a y-front man and so what if there are more holes in them than Swiss cheese.” [...]

  22. [...] human breast milk has already been making quite a ripple in the food community, featured first in “Mommy Milk Cheese” at Klee’s Brasserie this past winter, then at the Icecreamists, a small ice cream parlor in [...]

  23. Jenny says:

    Breast milk for cheese? Would you eat another human, because that’s exactly what you are doing when you eat breast cheese?

  24. Lindy says:

    No I don't think I would drink human milk, not as an adult. I don't think we were intended to drink milk from our mother or any other mother after a certain age. We just grow out of it. I do however drink Almond milk. It's utterly difficult to find their nipples though. :)

  25. Lindy says:

    Sorry, I meant to say I would not consume human milk as a cheese, or ice cream or anything else like that.

  26. Chuck_Culp says:

    I guess it would be just as unhealthy as any other cheese, full of caso-morphines (addictive morphine like substances; makes infants and mother bond) that would further fuel their addictions. At least it would give the cows break. Pizza ads with giant boobs for impact!

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