Bacteria Are Amazing: Photos of the Ecology of Cheese Bacteria Are Amazing: Photos of the Ecology of Cheese
The GOOD Life

Bacteria Are Amazing: Photos of the Ecology of Cheese

by Peter Smith

March 7, 2011

On a microbiological level, it would be interesting to know if the bacterial strains necessary for a Vermont cheddar made from pasteurized milk are more or less complex than those needed to create a geographically-protected Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano?

The question might sound esoteric, but it could become important for cheese makers and raw milk producers—as the United States Food and Drug Administration considers new regulations for raw milk cheeses. The current rules, somewhat arbitrarily, prohibit the sale of raw milk cheeses aged less than 60 days (although the age of a cheese is no guarantee for eliminating harmful microbes). Let's hope any added scientific scrutiny doesn't trump the wonder and complexity of cheese, which we still have a long ways to go towards unraveling their pungent, tangy microbiological mysteries.

Top photo: Jasper Hill Farm's Bayley Hazen Blue
Middle photo: Cabot's Cloth-bound Cheddar
Bottom photo: Cowgirl Creamery's Mt. Tam.

All photos by Rachel Dutton. The collection first appeared in Culture magazine. You should subscribe to the magazine here.

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Bacteria Are Amazing: Photos of the Ecology of Cheese