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The Mother of All Cheeses
March 11, 2010 6:11 AM   Subscribe

What do you do with a surplus of breast milk? If you're Daniel Angerer, you make cheese. When fans of Daniel Angerer's blog read about his attempt to create cheese from his wife Lori Mason's breast milk, they demanded a sample at his restaurant Klee Brasserie. According to the chef, it tastes like cow's milk cheese and goes well with Riesling.
posted by amro (133 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
*looks at freezer full of little baggies*

*looks at post*

*irrationally claws at eyes*

(Great post! Wow!)
posted by cavalier at 6:12 AM on March 11, 2010


I'm not afraid to say that the idea of this makes me absolutely ill.
posted by SinisterPurpose at 6:13 AM on March 11, 2010 [25 favorites]


Yeah, I can understand all of the reasons why it shouldn't but I'm with SinisterPurpose on this one.
posted by rollbiz at 6:18 AM on March 11, 2010


I'm putting a blanket over my head.
posted by jsavimbi at 6:19 AM on March 11, 2010


I approve of this.
posted by Malice at 6:19 AM on March 11, 2010


I don't understand why all of you are repulsed by this, but eat breast milk from a non-human animal. Doesn't make any sense.
posted by Malice at 6:20 AM on March 11, 2010 [41 favorites]


i love how his wife is like, "I'm not here to walk people through their psychological problems," but her expression in the photo says, "Except my husband of course, sigh."
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:20 AM on March 11, 2010 [6 favorites]


There are thousands of babies who do not have the privilege of being raised on breast milk. Any surplus breast milk donated to a milk bank would be a better alternative, IMHO.
posted by VickyR at 6:21 AM on March 11, 2010 [16 favorites]


Your favorite lactation source sucks is sucked.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:21 AM on March 11, 2010 [8 favorites]


In the Barn
posted by DU at 6:22 AM on March 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


Doesn't make me ill, per se, but it does seem... pretty creepy. Like I'd be expecting a tour of his S&M dungeon next.
posted by LordSludge at 6:22 AM on March 11, 2010


Yeah, I'm puzzled by the "eeew, gross" comments myself. Milk from cow or goat breasts is fine and dandy, but milk from human breasts is gross and icky? How's that work?

VickyR Yeah, it is kind of wasteful, no argument.
posted by sotonohito at 6:22 AM on March 11, 2010


Gothamist has follow-up on the reaction from the Department of Health, which is exactly what you'd think- "Hi, no, you can't serve a food made from your bodily fluids in a restaurant, or to your friends, or to ANYONE, give me a break".
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:23 AM on March 11, 2010 [12 favorites]


I tried drinking some a few years back, and it was really unappealing -- too sweet, and the flavor just wasn't nice to my adult tongue. (I tried it straight from the breast, which gave me new-found respect for babies -- extracting milk by sucking is seriously hard work.) So the idea of cheese from it doesn't make me excited.

I am surprised that it tastes like cow cheese -- I would have guessed that it would be more sweet like some kinds of goat cheese.
posted by Forktine at 6:23 AM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


My impression of breast milk is... watery, very sweet and that hooker charged waaaay too much for it.
posted by ExitPursuedByBear at 6:25 AM on March 11, 2010 [14 favorites]


About a million dollars worth of free publicity for his restaurant.
posted by fixedgear at 6:25 AM on March 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


I don't understand why all of you are repulsed by this, but eat breast milk from a non-human animal. Doesn't make any sense.

I know, right? Mr. Padraigin and I certainly tasted my breastmilk without any compunctions.

I'm still irrationally squicked out, just a teeny bit, by the idea of eating some other lady's breastmilk cheese. It's a funny old world what with its cultural taboos and whatnot, isn't it?
posted by padraigin at 6:25 AM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Forktine, it does look like goat's cheese. I'm inclined to think he's wrong about that.
posted by Malice at 6:26 AM on March 11, 2010


A couple days in after my son was born, in a sleep-deprived near coma, I went scrounging for something, anything, to eat. I found a box of Kraft Mac-n-Cheese (Kraft Dinner to you Canadians) in the cabinet. Happy that there was something, I boiled up a pot of water and cooked up the pasta.

Then it came time to add the day-glo orange cheese mixture. I cut open the little bag and poured it into the pan. I went to the fridge to grab the butter and milk. We had butter. Sadly, there was no milk.

I let out a depressed sigh. I was tired and hungry and I had Mac -n- Cheese that was almost, but not quite, ready to eat.

But there was no milk. At least no cow's milk.

It was then that I saw the little bottle. Due to some issues I won't get into, I knew this was a hard won product. She had worked for this, this little bit of milk. This was worth more than gold. But my dinner needed some milk.

She'd never notice. Should I? Could I?

They say that people tend to regret the things they didn't do in life more than the things they did do. I'm happy to report I have no regrets for what I didn't do that day. 'cause that would have just been wrong. I found some powdered milk among my backpacking supplies.
posted by bondcliff at 6:26 AM on March 11, 2010 [15 favorites]


Seconding SinisterPurpose and rollbiz - it's totally irrational, but I find the idea stomach-churning. I can't explain why (note to self - uh, yeah, that's why it's irrational).

Nonetheless, it's very interesting to observe this reaction in myself.
posted by kcds at 6:27 AM on March 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


All milk is worked hard for. You should have gone for it!
posted by Malice at 6:28 AM on March 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Goes well with the Grapes of Wrath.
posted by ALongDecember at 6:29 AM on March 11, 2010 [12 favorites]


According to the chef, it tastes like cow's milk cheese and goes well with Riesling.

Well, that's terrific. It's great that we have identified a potential substitute for cow's milk cheese, in case it ever becomes rare.
posted by Slap Factory at 6:30 AM on March 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Am I the only one who thought, "hey, it's vegan."?
posted by Skwirl at 6:33 AM on March 11, 2010 [18 favorites]


Take my wife's cheese?
posted by greasy_skillet at 6:35 AM on March 11, 2010 [10 favorites]


I think I understand why people are grossed out by breast milk. People are quite rationally averse to the fluids that come out of their own bodies, because nearly all of them are waste fluids. You have quite good reasons for wanting to get as far away from your boogers as possible. The only exceptions are semen and breast milk, and those are not as common as the others. So it makes sense to me that people lump them in with earwax and pus mentally.

Is there anyone out there who swallows but thinks that breast milk is inedibly gross?

Oh, and you're at substantially less risk of disease from crossing species lines, which is why we are averse to cannibalism. In the same vein, I wouldn't want to drink the breast milk of someone whose health history I don't know.
posted by breath at 6:37 AM on March 11, 2010 [11 favorites]


CNN is having a poll on whether this is good or not, and 4chan is going for the win.
posted by Trochanter at 6:38 AM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


google ads thinks i might be in the mood to order a "cheese basket" but they couldn't be more wrong.

i have never consciously referred to breasts as "cheese baskets" and now i'm ruined.
posted by Hammond Rye at 6:41 AM on March 11, 2010 [23 favorites]


What is the taboo? Simple: The thought of intimate contact with an unrelated adult.
posted by Doohickie at 6:44 AM on March 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


Also, you can be pretty sure that cows only eat things that are, at least in some senses, not actively revolting (antibiotics etc. aside; you can avoid those, and I do; the occasional bug or whatever falls on grass also bothers me less). However, some of the things other people put into their mouths and bodies really grosses me out, and I'd have no way of knowing or controlling what a human woman consumed, and thus included in her milk.

Additionally, I think I'd be less likely to catch a random disease from a different species with different body chemistry than from a fellow human.

All this may not be completely thought-out and rational, but that's how I explain my own squeamishness.

Full disclosure: not a milk drinker of any kind, nearly vegan, but had some cheese for breakfast.
posted by amtho at 6:47 AM on March 11, 2010


Well, it's arguably vegan.

After all, an argument for veganism is that animals can't consent to giving up their products, while a woman can. Or you could go with the anthropocentric view that humans aren't animals, even though any other field would argue that we fit every criteria of animals.
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:49 AM on March 11, 2010


I've heard that what effects the taste of human bodily fluids (ick) tends to be things we don't think are so bad, like wine, beer, and coffee. In short, the things that go well with cheese.
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:50 AM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can I get a little grated breast milk cheese on my kitten cacciatore?
posted by briank at 6:52 AM on March 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


You can always weaponize it...
posted by aeshnid at 6:56 AM on March 11, 2010


Now would be a good time to mention that my cousin-in-law, Jill Youse, has a better idea for your extra breast milk: Give it to needy children!
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:56 AM on March 11, 2010


I have spent the last four years of my life trying to systematically eradicate every brain cell that had any association with my once having seen Gozu, and now you've undone all that work. Thanks so much.
posted by Shepherd at 6:59 AM on March 11, 2010


I've heard that what effects the taste of human bodily fluids (ick) tends to be things we don't think are so bad, like wine, beer, and coffee. In short, the things that go well with cheese.

Yeah, those coffee and cheese pairings are great, my local cheese shop has them all the time.
posted by fixedgear at 7:00 AM on March 11, 2010


Damn it! Another great idea I never acted upon. I was gonna call it "woman cheese."

You guys do know that there's a fairly strong market for breast milk, right? Some women don't produce enough and others have lots on hand. La Leche League promotes sharing it, but some new moms want to have a steadier supply and will pay. And of course there are still wet nurses, which is probably one of the worlds' oldest professions.

(No links because I'm at work and my searches may be monitored, but do look it up if you can, it's all really fascinating. If you're into breast milk and breast feeding.)
posted by pomegranate at 7:01 AM on March 11, 2010


I am proud to claim this guy my countryman! *points*

Though he isn't the first one: Swiss chef Hans Locher planned to serve chopped veal, Zurich style, and diverse soups made with breast milk, but refrained when he found out it would be punishable under Swiss law
posted by Omnomnom at 7:01 AM on March 11, 2010


Isn't this a sort of public health issue? I thought certain things could be transmitted through breast milk?
posted by jefficator at 7:02 AM on March 11, 2010


sotonohito : Milk from cow or goat breasts is fine and dandy, but milk from human breasts is gross and icky? How's that work?

You'd consider steak from a cow fine and dandy (unless a vegetarian), but a steak from dead uncle Al probably not so much.


Doohickie : What is the taboo? Simple: The thought of intimate contact with an unrelated adult.

British royalty, or just from Alabama? Personally, I'll stick with intimate contact with only unrelated adults, thankyouverymuch. ;)


Okay, somewhat more on-topic - One part about this story surprised me - I would have expected human milk to behave radically different from cow's milk in cheese-making, for two reasons - Human milk has more sugar (7% vs 4.5%), and far less protein (1% vs 3.5%). The former affects bacterial action, and the latter the ease of curdling. On the latter point, human milk always has an alkaline pH (where cow milk can go either way but hovers around neutral), so that should make curdling somewhat easier, but you'll have quite a lot less of it (and unlike with cows milk, you can't compensate by just picking up a few extra gallons of it).

/ Proud member of the local cheese-making society.
// Never tried using human milk. Probably never will.
posted by pla at 7:03 AM on March 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


A few taboos here and there are fine. Personally, I'm not interested in being radical and transgressive while I'm eating. At all. The commenters in Angerer's blog seem really excited about the idea, though. Can this kind of publicity make actual business sense for a restaurant?
posted by The Mouthchew at 7:04 AM on March 11, 2010


I want to know how anyone produces that much extra breast milk. Impressive.
posted by Go Banana at 7:04 AM on March 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


While we're getting grossed out, how about eating the placenta? Human reproduction is so gross, you guys. The sooner we just clone our offspring in vats, the better.
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:04 AM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are thousands of babies who do not have the privilege of being raised on breast milk. Any surplus breast milk donated to a milk bank would be a better alternative, IMHO.

Read the second paragraph of the blog.
my spouse actually thinks of donating some to an infant milk bank which could help little babies in Haiti and such but for the meantime (the milk bank requires check-ups which takes a little while) our small freezer ran out of space. To throw it out would be like wasting gold.
Donating to a milk bank isn't as simple as dumping an ice chest full of baggies into a drop slot. There's screening and logging and hoops to jump through. If you haven't taken care of all that before you pump, you're probably not going to be able to donate. In this case it's not wasting milk that could have helped babies in need, it's finding a use for milk that would have gone in the trash.
posted by Dojie at 7:05 AM on March 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


pla - he used cow milk with the human milk to handle the bacteria/curdling issues.
posted by Dojie at 7:13 AM on March 11, 2010


What do you do with a surplus of breast milk?

Nurse orphan puppies.
posted by pracowity at 7:20 AM on March 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


The real reason this is gross is because breast milk just plain tastes bad, except to babies who don't know any better.
posted by brain_drain at 7:21 AM on March 11, 2010


Is there anyone out there who swallows but thinks that breast milk is inedibly gross?

I ingest saliva while kissing, but that doesn't mean I'd drink a glass of his spit.
posted by desuetude at 7:22 AM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


So, I'm slightly squicked out by this, but I'm more bemused as to just how many health code violations he managed to commit by serving human food products in a commercial kitchen...
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 7:23 AM on March 11, 2010


^ Gothamist has follow-up on the reaction from the Department of Health, which is exactly what you'd think- "Hi, no, you can't serve a food made from your bodily fluids in a restaurant, or to your friends, or to ANYONE, give me a break".

^ Isn't this a sort of public health issue? I thought certain things could be transmitted through breast milk?

I imagine that one of the public health concerns pertains to the transmission risk of infectious disease, e.g., HIV can be transmitted via breast milk. And though Mr. Angerer is likely not shooting up his wife with growth hormone and forcing serial impregnation to maintain his unique dairy supply, there is also the issue of other substances ingested that might remain in the breast milk.

Since there doesn't seem to be a precedent for serving human breast milk-based foods in a US restaurant, I presume that research-based public health regulations don't yet exist to address possible health risks. In other words, the Department of Health's reaction may not be so much about the squick factor, but about not having a reliable body of research to regulate or not regulate the safe public consumption of fun-bag milk.
posted by skenfrith at 7:24 AM on March 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


This thread is the first in a long time to make me consider changing careers to dairy farmer.
posted by beelzbubba at 7:25 AM on March 11, 2010


Do I think this is gross? Not really. I mean, speaking as objectively as possible it's probably less "gross" than things I have eaten like blood sausage and tripe (and I bite my fingernails, so I'm already a cannibal).

Having said that, would I want to try it? No.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:27 AM on March 11, 2010


Yeah, I'm puzzled by the "eeew, gross" comments myself. Milk from cow or goat breasts is fine and dandy, but milk from human breasts is gross and icky?

I don't want any human honey, either.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:30 AM on March 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


If you haven't taken care of all that before you pump, you're probably not going to be able to donate. In this case it's not wasting milk that could have helped babies in need, it's finding a use for milk that would have gone in the trash.

Actually, you can donate without jumping through all the hoops. Milkshare can help you connect with families who will gladly take your milk for their babies.
posted by Dragonness at 7:31 AM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't understand why all of you are repulsed by this, but eat breast milk from a non-human animal. Doesn't make any sense.
posted by Malice at 9:20 AM on March 11



It makes perfect sense. I eat meat from cows and chickens, but I won't eat meat from humans.

Secondly, we eat food that we humans collectively hunt or harvest. I don't know if I like the idea of maintaining human dairy farms for harvesting breast milk from perpetually lactating women to satisfy the indulgences of people who have more money than sense.

But if you think it makes sense, let's go all in. Let's talk about whether this breast milk was organic, or laced with antidepressants, hormones, antibiotics, polymers, etc. I'm not sure if I'm comfortable eating a tangy Roquefort made from the breast milk of a neurotic Upper-East-side Vassar-grad whose diet consists of toast points, gin, and Xanax.

And just like the dairy industry maintains specific breeds of cattle, like Guernsey, Jersey, Brown Swiss or Milking Devon, to obtain milk with different nutritional characteristics, maybe the Human Breast Milk industry would like to articulate for us the various advantages of Breast milk from Africans, Europeans, Asians, etc.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:33 AM on March 11, 2010 [9 favorites]


my spouse actually thinks of donating some to an infant milk bank which could help little babies in Haiti and such but for the meantime (the milk bank requires check-ups which takes a little while) our small freezer ran out of space. To throw it out would be like wasting gold.

Okay. None for me thanks. Check, please.
posted by Splunge at 7:34 AM on March 11, 2010


I'd be pretty psyched if I could excrete nutritive fluid as well, but I find it hard to believe it's worthwhile to ship the stuff across the world. I understand that there are benefits over formula when a mother is choosing how to feed her child, but it doesn't seem superior by such leaps and bounds that it's worth the hassle of shipping it to poverty/disaster stricken parts of the world.

I don't like the idea of buying fluids that another person excretes from them. It's a bit like prostitution - seems like the sort of thing that should be freely given and remain uncontaminated (so to speak...) by free market power relations.
posted by phrontist at 7:39 AM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


And more to the point about why we aren't cannibals, there's a biological reason for this. Humans throughout history rarely ate predatory animals. We don't eat up the food chain, and we certainly don't eat apex predators. We don't eat tigers, wolves, or foxes. We don't eat hawks or eagles. We don't eat bears. We primarily eat herbivores, because predators are rife with parasites, prions, viruses, etc. from the animals they in turn consume.

Recall that mad cow disease arose from cows being fed the remains of other cattle and sheep.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:40 AM on March 11, 2010 [7 favorites]


While we're getting grossed out, how about eating the placenta? Human reproduction is so gross, you guys. The sooner we just clone our offspring in vats, the better.

Just because it's natural doesn't mean anyone has to like it or willingly participate. It's natural to die, to puke, shit diarrhea, get cancer, for blood to spurt when jabbed in the jugular, and for a head to roll nicely down the street if cut off just so.

As someone whose wife is having our first child in the next month or so, I will continue to have almond milk on my cereal (even cow's milk grosses me out), not drink my wife's breast milk, not eat the placenta, and be just fine for it.
posted by jimmythefish at 7:43 AM on March 11, 2010


You know when you get down to the bottom of your cereal bowl and you've been eating--let's say Frosted Flakes. You know how that milk tastes? Now picture it warmer AND COMING OUT OF A BOOBIE! MMmmmmm...breast milk.

(On many occasions, while my wife and her friends were breastfeeding their babies, I would suggest that they switched up feeders, just to give them a taste of something different. My wife and her friend would just slowly shake their heads at me, but I always thought that would be something funny to tell the kids when they were older. "Hey, Milo! See Mrs. Crump over there? Well, guess what?")
posted by ColdChef at 7:43 AM on March 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Actually, you can donate without jumping through all the hoops. Milkshare can help you connect with families who will gladly take your milk for their babies.

I came in to share this link, and I'm glad Dragonness beat me to it. Breastmilk can be stored for anywhere between 3-12 months, which is more than enough time to get a required checkup and process paperwork.
posted by zarq at 7:44 AM on March 11, 2010


We don't eat bears.

Are you sure about that?
posted by Forktine at 7:44 AM on March 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


Pastabagel, I'd sooner eat voluntarily given up human meat than I would involuntary non-human meat, so that argument really only holds with meat consumers, I suppose. Suppose the breast milk was screened, is it still 'gross'?
posted by Malice at 7:45 AM on March 11, 2010


Actually, you can donate without jumping through all the hoops. Milkshare can help you connect with families who will gladly take your milk for their babies.

Not necessarily. Milkshare recipient families certainly can accept milk from people who haven't jumped through hoops, but Milkshare does encourage the hoops and they also have guidelines regarding freezing and storage. Based on the picture in the blog of milk bags stored in a refrigerator freezer (not a chest freezer), they don't appear to meet the guidelines and might not have much luck finding a recipient family.
posted by Dojie at 7:45 AM on March 11, 2010


but it doesn't seem superior by such leaps and bounds that it's worth the hassle of shipping it to poverty/disaster stricken parts of the world.

It doesn't have to go across the world. There are babies in your local NICU right now who could benefit greatly from donated human milk.
posted by anastasiav at 7:46 AM on March 11, 2010


Also, you can be pretty sure that cows only eat things that are, at least in some senses, not actively revolting

Things that are commonly fed to dairy/food cows include: pork, fish, chicken feathers, blood, plastic, poop, roadkill, euthanized pets, sand*, arsenic.

NOM NOM NOM.

*when there was no crawdad to be found, we ate sand.
posted by jtron at 7:49 AM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think the reason many people see this as gross is because we have a social understanding that humans are not a food source. It makes it a taboo topic.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 7:51 AM on March 11, 2010


And just like the dairy industry maintains specific breeds of cattle, like Guernsey, Jersey, Brown Swiss or Milking Devon, to obtain milk with different nutritional characteristics, maybe the Human Breast Milk industry would like to articulate for us the various advantages of Breast milk from Africans, Europeans, Asians, etc.

It's even more complicated than that. Diet, environment, ethnicity and genetic makeup all matter when it comes to the benefits and negatives of breast milk. Factors like nutrition, immunity, genotoxicity, etc., all are affected.

But also, there was a study conducted in the late 1990's and a paper published in 2000 which divided human breast milk by blood type. If I recall, the study was one of many which helped determined that the immunologic factors which are transferred from mother to infant through breast milk which were once attributed to immunoglobins were actually being provided by free oligosaccharides -- in other words, the milk sugar was what was transferring the immunity for various diseases from mom to baby.
posted by zarq at 7:56 AM on March 11, 2010


Many people still see breastfeeding itself as gross, and want to keep the bewbs behind closed doors cause they can't handle the sight.
posted by cashman at 7:57 AM on March 11, 2010


And more to the point about why we aren't cannibals, there's a biological reason for this. Humans throughout history rarely ate predatory animals. We don't eat up the food chain, and we certainly don't eat apex predators. We don't eat tigers, wolves, or foxes. We don't eat hawks or eagles. We don't eat bears. We primarily eat herbivores, because predators are rife with parasites, prions, viruses, etc. from the animals they in turn consume.

Recall that mad cow disease arose from cows being fed the remains of other cattle and sheep.
posted by Pastabagel at 9:40 AM
Tiger penis is consumed as an impotence "cure," and the meat can sometimes be found for sale in S China. Fox meat is gamy and needs to be brined overnight but there are recipes out there. Eagles were eaten enough in antiquity for the Bible to prohibit their consumption. The Ainu people of Hokkaido eat bear, and you can even buy canned bear curry there.

And while we've stopped feeding cows to cows, we still feed pigs to pigs and chicken to chickens.
posted by jtron at 7:57 AM on March 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


And just like the dairy industry maintains specific breeds of cattle, like Guernsey, Jersey, Brown Swiss or Milking Devon, to obtain milk with different nutritional characteristics, maybe the Human Breast Milk industry would like to articulate for us the various advantages of Breast milk from Africans, Europeans, Asians, etc.

Yup, that's pure Cambodian, yo.
posted by Slap Factory at 7:59 AM on March 11, 2010


a paper published in 2000 which divided human breast milk by blood type.

This one? Variability of Human Milk Neutral Oligosaccharides in a Diverse Population.
posted by cashman at 8:00 AM on March 11, 2010


cashman, I believe so. It's been ten years since I read it, and I'd have to read it again to be sure. :)
posted by zarq at 8:02 AM on March 11, 2010


Milkshare recipient families certainly can accept milk from people who haven't jumped through hoops, but Milkshare does encourage the hoops and they also have guidelines regarding freezing and storage. Based on the picture in the blog of milk bags stored in a refrigerator freezer (not a chest freezer), they don't appear to meet the guidelines and might not have much luck finding a recipient family.

If you join the Milkshare Yahoo mailing list, you'll see there are many more families desperately looking for milk than women offering it, and once contact has been made Milkshare is out of the equation entirely. Also, most women with milk to donate can show the results of the standard medical tests they underwent in the course of their pregnancy. As for chest freezers, it's a non-issue to my mind. Milkshare is duty bound to make recommendations but it's really up to the families' discretion what arrangements end up being made.
posted by Dragonness at 8:02 AM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


we still feed pigs to pigs

We feed pigs to pigs then cook the pigs, then use anthropomorphized cartoon pigs to sell the pig-fed pigs to us.
posted by cashman at 8:03 AM on March 11, 2010 [7 favorites]


Yep. That's the article. Nice find! :)
posted by zarq at 8:05 AM on March 11, 2010


jtron: You ate sand?
posted by The Bellman at 8:08 AM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I should say - since I seem to be only pointing out arguments against these people donating breastmilk - that I certainly hope they do so in the future. That's a hell of a lot of extra milk. It could do a lot more good as infant food than gastronome food. Unfortunately, the comment about Haiti makes me suspect that they haven't actually done much research into the subject though, since breastmilk donations to Haiti are actually being actively discouraged.
posted by Dojie at 8:09 AM on March 11, 2010


> I'd be pretty psyched if I could excrete nutritive fluid

Insert protein joke here!
posted by Peter H at 8:09 AM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure that the icing factor here is really human versus animal milk. There are lots of milk producing creatures in the world, and only a few that we will use for our own consumption. I don't want to try elephant, lion, bat, rat or chimpanzee milk either. Cow only for me, please.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:09 AM on March 11, 2010


I've been struggling for years to get my homemade Kopi Kuwak company off the ground, but it's just been one nightmare after another. First, those Nazis at the FDA refuse to approve my product and then my wife up and quit on me, forcing me to swallow all those damn coffee beans myself!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:15 AM on March 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


"My wife's curdled tit cheese" is something I'd expect at either a swinger's club or a restaurant called Ed Gein's.
posted by Peter H at 8:16 AM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you were starving and dehydrated in the desert and had to choose between a canteen of skunk or human milk, which would you drink?
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:17 AM on March 11, 2010


Milk from cow or goat breasts is fine and dandy, but milk from human breasts is gross and icky? How's that work?

I don't look at a cow's udder and fantasize about having sex with with the cow.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:18 AM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


We feed pigs to pigs then cook the pigs, then use anthropomorphized cartoon pigs to sell the pig-fed pigs to us.
See also: Suicide Food

Bellman: one time, I tried to make my own crawdad, you see? So I put it in the pot, but without the water, you see? And it was just like makin' popcorn.
posted by jtron at 8:19 AM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: still irrationally squicked out, just a teeny bit

My mother-in-law, thankfully my former m-i-l, made constant references to cows when I was nursing my son, and it was not welcomed by me. Nursing a baby is a powerful reminder that we are mammals, but the idea of human milk production in real production for commercial, non-medical use, does feel offensive.

Also, while I know there are many people who think unpasteurized milk and cheese is wonderful, I love not having tb, and am probably equally icked out by the lack of pasteurization and health screening.

Last week was Restaurant Week in my town, and I went to a couple of expensive, well-reviewed restaurants. Good food is so plentiful that to be considered a luxury restaurant, they have to use uncommon ingredients and methods. Basil syrup is interesting and refreshing, but it didn't really enhance my dessert. Human milk cheese seems the natural extension of adventure eating as a high-level luxury.
posted by theora55 at 8:24 AM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


The strength of the taboo is shown by how many people here who compare drinking human breastmilk to cannibalism.

I guess babies are just cute little cannibals!
posted by eye of newt at 8:26 AM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


This was done as a money raising stunt in the UK last year:

Part 1 (the idea), part 2 (making) & part 3 (selling – from an ice cream van. To icked out school kids.)
posted by i_cola at 8:28 AM on March 11, 2010


I'm thinking it is mostly cow's milk cheese with enough human milk to change the flavor. As Pia mentioned above, human milk is very different than cow's milk, and I am no chemist, but as mentioned here and here, breast milk precipitates but doesn't coagulate. Granted he will get a higher content in the curds from the yogurt process, but I still think most of the breast milk just leaves with the whey.
posted by arruns at 8:41 AM on March 11, 2010


I'm not sure if I'm comfortable eating a tangy Roquefort made from the breast milk of a neurotic Upper-East-side Vassar-grad whose diet consists of toast points, gin, and Xanax.

what
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:42 AM on March 11, 2010


I guess babies are just cute little cannibals!

And cute little parasites, at least before they're born but arguably after, as well.

/loves little baby human parasites
posted by amro at 8:42 AM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


eye of newt : The strength of the taboo is shown by how many people here who compare drinking human breastmilk to cannibalism.

Heh, I can't speak for others, but you took my own statement on that point entirely the wrong way. To repeat Malice's sentiment, I'd eat a human steak given voluntarily, even though I won't (as a vegetarian) eat the flesh of a dead cow.

That said, I'd definitely want it well-done to kill/denature all the nasties.

I also wouldn't suggest anyone try to live off human meat. I don't have a cite (I read this about 10 years ago and offline), but apparently most humans in the Western world have levels of a number of toxins (PCBs, arsenic, mercury) well over the already-too-lax USDA limits for "safe for human consumption".

Which goes along with Pastabagel's statement about not eating apex predators - This very much counts as a case where shit runs uphill.
posted by pla at 8:49 AM on March 11, 2010


Breast milk is reverse alcohol. It's very good when you're little, but when you're older it becomes very bad.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:50 AM on March 11, 2010


...goes well with Riesling

Does it make a nice complement to Liebfraumilsch?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:55 AM on March 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


safe for human consumption

The best part of cannibalism is that it facilitates economy of language.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:01 AM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Recall that mad cow disease arose from cows being fed the remains of other cattle and sheep.

Spinal and brain tissue, specifically. None of which is in breast milk. There is no evidence that vCJD spreads from mother to child through breast milk.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:04 AM on March 11, 2010


This thread is not the best for reading over lunch.
posted by something something at 9:21 AM on March 11, 2010


I don't want any human honey, either.

If my boyfriend could somehow make honey, I would never let him work again and keep him well fed and happy up in my treehouse. I love this post.
posted by jessamyn at 9:29 AM on March 11, 2010 [10 favorites]


100 comments in...
Klee Brassiere
posted by gurple at 9:35 AM on March 11, 2010


Let's all argue about what is right and proper for this woman to do with her bodily secretion, and when she doesn't do exactly what we think she should, let's berate her and her husband.

That seems like a good plan to me. Let's keep doing that, because obviously we have a moral obligation to tell them what to do instead of appreciating what they decided to do as adults.

And for the record, if I have $5 to spare, I'm not going to donate it to charity.
posted by Malice at 9:44 AM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Spinal and brain tissue, specifically. None of which is in breast milk. There is no evidence that vCJD spreads from mother to child through breast milk.

To clarify further...

"Evidence" is the key word here. Prions do tend to gather in nervous and lymphoid tissues, and there are lymph ducts in the breasts. However, the only prion disease which has been shown to be transmissible through breast milk is scrapie, which can be transmitted through a sheep's breast milk to lambs. Subsequent studies have shown that the disease's transmission vector is a bit more complicated.

So it's at least theoretically possible that vCJD or another prion disease might be transmitted through breast milk. However, no cases have ever been documented. vCJD is a rare and somewhat new disease and breast milk isn't exactly a common transmission vector, so it's unlikely such a case would even come up, if it were even possible.
posted by zarq at 9:45 AM on March 11, 2010


I have partaken of the fresh item from persons that I knew and trusted. (And enjoyed it.) But again, if the chef can't give away his milk until it's tested, then he shouldn't be serving it at his restaurant for the same reason.

No squick factor for me. Just careful.
posted by Splunge at 9:50 AM on March 11, 2010


>I tried drinking some a few years back, and it was really unappealing

You forgot to salt it.
posted by ekroh at 10:01 AM on March 11, 2010


Zarq, from your BMJ link:
The occurrence of maternal transmission is, however, not predicted by modern knowledge of the aetiology of spongiform encephalopathy, and even though claims of maternal transmission have been reiterated frequently in the literature, re-examination of the source data reveals that these data are extremely scanty, unreplicated, and probably subject to ascertainment bias. The probability of maternal transmission of spongiform encephalopathy in any species should be viewed with the greatest scepticism.

...

Belief in maternal transmission as the main mode of acquisition of natural scrapie has held sway for 30 years on the basis of poorly reported data on the occurrence of scrapie in a handful of sheep of unknown genotype. The genetic basis of spongiform encephalopathy in familial cases in humans, the absence of maternal transmission in any other form of spongiform encephalopathy, and the results of embryo transfer experiments all suggest that a genetic basis for natural sheep scrapie is compatible with our current understanding of spongiform encephalopathy. The onus should now be on those who wish to maintain the importance of maternal transmission of spongiform encephalopathy in any species to provide convincing data. (emph. added)
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:03 AM on March 11, 2010


And then there is that painting I saw in the Prado, The Lactation of Saint Bernard. Adults consuming human breast milk meets the Virgin Mary.
posted by A-Train at 10:04 AM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


*barfs*
posted by stormpooper at 10:11 AM on March 11, 2010


At least it won't catch on at Starbucks.
posted by Hylas at 10:12 AM on March 11, 2010


A-Train: I remember that painting. We saw the Prado on a tour and when we saw that one, one of the little old Welsh ladies that was with us said, "OOOHHH! Well, HE's having a little drink, now isn't he." Thank you for reminding me of those crazy ladies. They were straight out of Monty Python.
posted by artychoke at 10:24 AM on March 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


BP, I just spent the last half hour browsing journal articles on scrapie rather than working, thanks to you. :)

To sum up what I've been reading... current research suggests that Scrapie is transmitted in utero, rather than through breast milk. (This page refers to it as being present in fetal membranes, but not in any excretions or secretions.) So, I didn't read the article I linked to (which you kindly quoted from) carefully enough. Thank you for pointing out the errors in what I said above.

Returning to vCJD....

The UK's Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee's Position Statement on the Maternal Transmission of vCJD, was interesting. They refused to draw any conclusions and simply said that they can't rule out the risk of transmission, even though they believe it is low.
posted by zarq at 11:09 AM on March 11, 2010


I don't understand why all of you are repulsed by this, but eat breast milk from a non-human animal. Doesn't make any sense. posted byMalice at 7:20 AM

Without having previewed the comments yet, my answer for why I'm repulsed I believe comes straight from cultural taboos. Searching my self, I can find no other reason for my immediate gag reflex. Not because it's breast milk cheese, but because it's another human female who's breast the milk comes from. My first thought was, "Oh, gross, I don't even know that lady!" I imagined if it were made from my own mother's milk and that didn't feel my stomach twist. I've not had a lover who was lactating so that type of experience hasn't reshaped my taboo responses.

Others may have other reasons for their repulsions.
posted by _paegan_ at 11:19 AM on March 11, 2010


If my boyfriend could somehow make honey, I would never let him work again and keep him well fed and happy up in my treehouse. I love this post.
posted by jessamyn at 11:29 AM on March 11


You understand that private individuals can keep bees...?

I'm in the "whatever" crowd on this one. A friend sent me a link the other day and my first thought was "somebody knows how to get in the newspapers (wow that makes me sound old). I don't get the whole "breast milk oh my God I'm going to barf" thing but I did find myself contemplating the use of milt in cooking and whether dude would consider that line so easily crossed (then again I don't want to eat cod sperm either so I guess maybe it is different).

For what it's worth according to his blog, they are donating their extra breast milk but while going through the paperwork of signing up for a bank the milk he used to make the cheese was about to get too old to use so it was this or throw it out.
posted by nanojath at 11:25 AM on March 11, 2010


I'm not sure if I'm comfortable eating a tangy Roquefort made from the breast milk of a neurotic Upper-East-side Vassar-grad whose diet consists of toast points, gin, and Xanax.

Oh, come on, don't be ridiculous. Roquefort is subject to highly specific AOC criteria, not the least of which are stringent geographical guidelines. Unless your Vassar grad is a sheep, grazing on local feed from Aveyron, producing milk which is then treated with Penicillium roqueforti specifically from the natural caves of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, with the resulting cheese matured and packaged in that same region, it ain't Roquefort.
posted by desuetude at 11:27 AM on March 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


I think this may have something to do with humanity's widespread aversion to cannibalism.

Myself, I could overlook that if she's grass fed.
posted by StrangerInAStrainedLand at 11:38 AM on March 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Ainu people of Hokkaido eat bear, and you can even buy canned bear curry there.

In case my wife reads this, now you know what to get me for my birthday.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 12:37 PM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Logic tells me "no big, reuse!" Instinct has settled firmly on a chair of disgust.
posted by medea42 at 12:57 PM on March 11, 2010


Malice: Let's all argue about what is right and proper for this woman to do with her bodily secretion, and when she doesn't do exactly what we think she should, let's berate her and her husband.

That seems like a good plan to me. Let's keep doing that, because obviously we have a moral obligation to tell them what to do instead of appreciating what they decided to do as adults.


Instead, why don't we argue about what the right and proper dietary choices of adults are, and when those choices aren't what they think they should be, let's pretend to be amazed and confused by their self-evident psychological problems.

That seems like a good plan to me. Let's keep doing that, because obviously we have a moral obligation to tell them what they should or should not want to put in their mouth and swallow, instead of appreciating that they're allowed, as adults, to occasionally not want to eat certain things.
posted by CKmtl at 1:09 PM on March 11, 2010


Instead, why don't we argue about what the right and proper dietary choices of adults are, and when those choices aren't what they think they should be, let's pretend to be amazed and confused by their self-evident psychological problems.

That seems like a good plan to me. Let's keep doing that, because obviously we have a moral obligation to tell them what they should or should not want to put in their mouth and swallow, instead of appreciating that they're allowed, as adults, to occasionally not want to eat certain things.


This has nothing to do with this conversation, number one, and number two, I don't think he held down his wife and tied her to a milking machine, gets her pregnant over and over again in order to produce and sell her milk.

Your argument is invalid.
posted by Malice at 2:24 PM on March 11, 2010


This has nothing to do with this conversation, number one,

It does. Your second comment in this conversation tells people who wouldn't want to eat human cheese that they should want to eat human cheese, given that they'd gladly eat non-human cheese.

Get off your horse and allow people to not want to ingest things that they don't want to ingest.

number two, I don't think he held down his wife and tied her to a milking machine, gets her pregnant over and over again in order to produce and sell her milk.

I suspect that factory-style dairy farming has as much to do with people's distaste for human cheese as factory-style egg production would have to do with their objection to eating a chilled custard made out of my semen.

Even if all eggs in the world were organic, free-range, and home-raised, I'm sure plenty of people would pass on my semen custard.
posted by CKmtl at 2:49 PM on March 11, 2010


I'm right with Medea42 on this one. For reasons I can neither explain nor defend, I'm a little weirded out. And, I mean, I nursed my daughter until she was nearly three, in all kinds of public places, I'm hardly a lactophobe. It's just. . . weird.

It's like when I was about 30 weeks pregnant and discovered that if I didn't wear a bra at night, my boobs would leak. I woke up with my cat licking a pool of colostrum off my stomach. Rationally speaking, that's no weirder than me drinking cow's milk. But in reality? It's pretty goddam weird, y'all.
posted by KathrynT at 2:58 PM on March 11, 2010



I've heard that what effects the taste of human bodily fluids (ick) tends to be things we don't think are so bad, like wine, beer, and coffee. In short, the things that go well with cheese.

50 years ago (this coming Dec.) I told my wife I could "taste" tobacco when going down on her. I lied. But it worked. She quit smoking. Now I have to pray she doesn't spot this comment.
posted by notreally at 3:04 PM on March 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


The UK's Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee's Position Statement on the Maternal Transmission of vCJD, was interesting. They refused to draw any conclusions and simply said that they can't rule out the risk of transmission, even though they believe it is low.

I suspect they are doing a cya. Which is reasonable, given past transgressions in UK food safety.

But, let's be honest, the only reason there is an ick factor about adults consuming human breast milk is that female human breasts are sexualized, not because of diseases (prion or otherwise). Very few people sexualize cows and goats, and so it's not taboo to consume their milk.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:28 PM on March 11, 2010


Even if all eggs in the world were organic, free-range, and home-raised, I'm sure plenty of people would pass on my semen custard.

Here is a sentence that could do with a judicious touch of punctuation for clarity...
posted by Splunge at 4:17 PM on March 11, 2010


As a dairy cattle geneticist it is clear to me that this is my chance to really contribute to a discussion on MeFi. Just the pother day I was saying to Mrs. Wintermind that I really want to publish a paper in "Journal of Human Lactation". Unfortunately, pretty much every experiment I've though of so far would never pass muster with the human subjects people. *sigh*
posted by wintermind at 5:08 PM on March 11, 2010


Your argument is invalid.


Dwight Schrute? Izzat you?
posted by fixedgear at 5:11 PM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Depending on the mother-in-question's diet, I'd love to try some.
posted by rmmcclay at 8:25 PM on March 11, 2010



We feed pigs to pigs then cook the pigs, then use anthropomorphized cartoon pigs to sell the pig-fed pigs to us.


That's baloney.
posted by funkiwan at 9:50 PM on March 11, 2010


I might try this cheese, but there's no damned way I'm going to accept "human mayo" on my sandwich.
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out at 11:38 PM on March 11, 2010


I irrationally feel disgusted by the idea of consuming human breast milk products. Why am I not disgusted every morning when I put cow's milk into my porridge?
posted by jpcooper at 1:26 AM on March 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


how long does it take? i want to try making my own when i have breastmilk.
posted by crystalsparks at 11:32 AM on March 12, 2010


humans are the only animals who drink milk after their infant stages, and not even their own mothers'. we drink fucking COWs' milk. lol, how nasty are we.
posted by crystalsparks at 11:34 AM on March 12, 2010


humans are the only animals who drink milk after their infant stages, and not even their own mothers'. we drink fucking COWs' milk. lol, how nasty are we.

That's not true. Cats will drink milk (cow's milk, typically) if it's made available to them.
posted by zarq at 3:17 PM on March 12, 2010


They will, but they probably shouldn't.

Cat milk, on the other hand...
posted by jtron at 1:56 PM on March 13, 2010


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