Camembert, Brie, Breast Milk: A Whole New Kind of Cheese
Remember the episode of Friends were Ross gets so repulsed that Susan has tasted Carol’s breast milk? Joey and Phoebe taste Carol’s milk while Ross remains completely horrified: “There's nothing wrong with it. I just... I just don't think breast milk is for adults.”
Miriam Sun opened a four-day store in late April retailing cheese made from breast milk called The Lady Cheese Shop. What was a playful sitcom discussion fifteen years ago has been making headlines recently, and the reactions are varied; some would agree with Ross vehemently while others are excitedly awaiting a taste of this daring dairy. Sun has been working on the Human Cheese Project for her graduate work at NYU’s Interactive Technology Program Sun and the pop-up shop was the culmination of her work to date.
Three cheeses were available for tastings, each made from a different woman’s milk. Sun worked with Chef Sarah Hymanson to create food pairings “inspired by the terroir of each cheese, the cultural and microbial habitat of each woman.” “Midtown Smoke” was made from a young Chinese working mother living in Manhattan and goat’s milk from Northern Vermont. “West Side Funk” is a stinky cheese is made from cow’s milk and a stay-at-home Manhattan mama’s breast milk. “Wisconsin Chew” is a tough cheese made from a Wisconsin mom who is a lawyer’s assistant and eats mostly organic, and the milk from a Columbia Country cow. She found the women who provided the milk on Onlythbreast.com, an online marketplace for breast milk, where she made a post explaining her project and the women contacted her.
Her inspiration for the work came from her love of cheese, and her efforts to eat better. Sun says, “There's so many different considerations that go into "better" food -- organic, natural, local, sustainable, free-range, ethical, fair trade… So I started thinking: What would be the most natural, local, ethical cheese possible?” Sun addresses questions of exploitation and empowerment with her project like, “Does posing a human in place of a cow shed some light on some ethical issues there?”
Sun’s project is ongoing and you can learn about her future projects, or donate your lady milk at Human Cheese.