Art lovers get a taste of breast milk cheese exhibit
A NEW York gallery is offering adventurous eaters the opportunity to sample cheese made from human breast milk, getting mixed reviews and some puzzled looks.
The Lady Cheese Shop is a temporary art installation by Miriam Simun, a graduate student at New York University who hopes to use the craft of cheese-making to raise questions about the ethics of modern biotechnologies.
"Cheese is the conversation starter," Ms Simun said. "Some people are loving it, and some people are gagging."
Ms Simun found three nursing women willing to have their milk turned into cheese. She screened the milk for diseases, pasteurised it and learned the basics of cheese-making.
Three varieties are available: West Side Funk; Midtown Smoke, described as "creamy and just pure heaven"; and Wisconsin Chew, the taste of which apparently reflected the vegetable-filled diet of the woman who provided its milk.
Jocelyn James, of Manhattan, who works with expectant mothers, declared her favourite was Midtown Smoke, which she said was mild.
"It's a lot healthier than cow's milk, which can be very suspicious," she said, although she conceded: "It does have a stigma."
Ms Simun said she hoped her cheese would make people think about the ways human bodies were used as "factories", producing blood, hair, sperm, eggs and organs that could be harvested to be used by others.
And while the transfusion of human blood is common practice, use of human milk raises eyebrows. "You're putting it in your mouth," said Ms Simun. "There's something really visceral about that."