Breast Milk Cheese: Pointless Provocation or Serious Lactivism?

Posted by Peter Smith

lactation-station

Breasts are ubiquitous in our culture. They're in magazines and on television. They're augmented with silicon. They're the focus of health campaigns.

And breasts guarantee attention and debate, even when they're used for their biological purpose: feeding babies. But they're bound to stir even more controversy when lactivists, artists, or restaurateurs make the perennial suggestion of serving healthy adults human breast milk.

Miriam Simun is currently creating a project as part of Living Systems at NYU’s Interactive Technology Program in an attempt to spur a conversation about food, biotechnology, and the body. And she spoke with Danielle Gould of Food + Tech Connect about creating Wisconsin human cheese—and maybe a cheese that could define a post-agrarian Brooklyn:

Miriam Simun: I love cheese. I have been trying to eat better recently, and there’s so many different considerations that go into ‘better food’—organic, natural, local, sustainable, free-range, ethical, fair trade…its really overwhelming. It makes buying a wedge of cheese this complicated endeavor. So I started thinking – what would be the most natural, local, ethical cheese possible?

human-cheese-breast

She isn't the first person to consider breast milk cheese. In 2006, Jess Dobkin set up the Lactation Station in Toronto and served pasteurized breast milk as performance art. In 2008, the Swiss chef Hans Locher became the most controversial restaurant owner in the Alps after making the Heidi-esque proposition of serving human breast milk. (Regulators later told him human milk didn't meet the regulatory requirements.)

Last year, Daniel Angerer, of Klee restaurant in New York, created mommy's milk cheese and served it to patrons (illegally). Shortly thereafter, Kourtney Kardashian reportedly tasted her own breast milk and the Internet went totally crazy.

Given our culture's sometimes fraught relationship with breasts, I wonder whether the attention these projects generate will further a positive conversation about breast feeding. What do you think? Oh, and has anyone ever tasted breast milk cheese? How was it?

Top photo-illustration via Jess Dobkin. Bottom illustration via Mariam Simun.