Yellow Blog, Up High in Banana Tree

I love the beautiful world at night.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

What to do with human exudations, part two.

I've been feeling nostalgic about breastfeeding lately. There were certainly things about lactating that were wonderful. Crap, if you're like me, you've heard and read about those delightful, tender moments a zillion times -- watching your baby fall asleep at the breast with a little drop of milk at the corner of his mouth, feeling overcome by love, etc.

What those stories don't usually cover is how, at that precise moment, I suddenly realize that I have to pee like a racehorse, but if I try to move, the baby will wake up and scream. My lips are dry and cracking, my throat's parched; I'm dying of thirst in the desert. Christ, I'm also starving -- I'd be happy to have a single, stale cracker to eat at this moment. And I can see that book I've been reading while the baby's asleep (I'm at a really exciting part!), but it's across the room on the table.

Experienced nursing mothers might chide me for not preparing better: "I always surround myself with everything I need before I start nursing." How nice for them! I never quite got that down, but then again, I still forget to take the diaper bag with us on outings (after almost three years)!

In spite of the above griping, I DO miss making milk. It's fabulous and magical to make food with your body. Fun fact: since 1993, Norway has included human milk output in its annual reports on national food production. They're the only country that does this.

This might gross some folks out, but I've been thinking about breast milk recipes. It's food, right?

Here's a slightly-too-long excerpt from Dan Savage's clever sex advice column, answering the burning question, "Can cheese be made from human breast milk?" Dan visits with Joe the cheesemaker ("blessed be the..." oh, nevermind...) at a cheese factory named "Say Cheese" (*cringe*) and asks him:

"When I asked Joe to recommend a cheese that would come close to one made from human breast milk, he balked: "I've never tasted breast milk." Was he bottle-fed? "I don't remember." When pressed, Joe said he didn't think cheese made from human breast milk would taste very good. "Sheep, goats, and cows don't eat meat, they don't eat onions or garlic, they don't drink coffee. The flavor of human cheese would depend on what you were feeding your human. Considering our diets, human breast milk would probably taste pretty awful." Does Say Cheese stock human breast milk cheese? "No, we don't." Why not? "It's a disgusting idea, and no one makes it." But if it were available, would you? "I don't think so."

Looks like the way to find out what human breast milk cheese might taste like is to roll up our sleeves and make ourselves some. According to Dale Baumgartner, head cheese maker at the Tillamook Creamery in Oregon, "It takes 10 pounds of milk to make one pound of cheese." A dairy cow makes more than that in one day, but the average lactating woman needs almost four days to produce 10 pounds of milk, and that would be a problem: "When you're making cheese, it's really important to use fresh milk," especially if your milk is unpasteurized. So, you need to find four lactating women, or make just a little tiny bit of cheese.

If you can get your hands on some fresh human breast milk, here's a simple cheese recipe from the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company ( Take your milk, put it in a bowl, and add some rennet (an animal derivative that contains an enzyme called rennin), which will cause the solids in your milk to clump up into curds. Then drain off the liquid, and serve the solids. VoilĂ ! You're eating breast milk cheese!"

But I'm not lactating anymore, so I can't try it! (Plus, I'd have to find three other nursing mamas to make a worthwhile amount of cheese, apparently.)

Maybe with the next baby? Me and my breastfeeding babe could be so productive! I could make some cheese with my milk, and we could help someone get that baby poop enema they're looking for....


  • At 3:54 PM, Blogger Vilda Chaya said…

    Such an interesting idea, Kate. Now the question is, would vegans eat that cheese? No, the real question is: Why was that question (about cheese from human milk) sent to a SEX advice columnist? What is wrong with people?

  • At 7:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Human milk is fucking delicious! Of course cows don't eat garlic, etc. They eat nasty weeds. Why shouldn't human cheese be superior? Garlic is yummy.

    Nursing is special. I think I will miss it, too when my kids are weaned. But you are right to point out that it is not all a Hallmark moment. Never had I wished for telekenisis more than when nursing. A book 5 feet away may as well have been on the moon.

    Eemie brings up a good point. What the fuck would a gay male sex columnist know about human lactation, anyway? Speaking of which, have you ever seen a video by Prodigy called "Baby's Got a Temper"?



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