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January 16, 2011

Would You Eat Human Cheese?

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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