Museum Displays Cheese Made from Celebrity Bacteria

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Museum Displays Cheese Made from Celebrity Bacteria

 

We love to put cheese in almost anything we eat, from bread, eggs, chips, and even various dishes. But a lot of us are most likely not aware that cheese is essentially made from bacteria. In making cheese, milk is transformed into curds by a unique starter culture or bacteria, which will determine whether it will ripen. According to Smithsonian Mag, the official journal published by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., many of the bacteria used in making cheese is similar to the bacteria on human skin. This is why the scents of stinky cheese and stinky feet tend to be similar.

 

Photo Credit: All That's Interesting

 

But it’s still quite a shock to know that someone has thought to make “human cheese,” which contains bacteria from celebrities’ bodily crannies, such as armpits, bellybuttons, noses, and ears. Scientists and cheesemakers collected bacteria samples from five British celebrities and grew in Petri dishes until sustainable strains could be harvested and added to milk to make cheese.

As of now, the human cheese is displayed in an exhibition called “Food: Bigger Than the Plate” at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum. The exhibit is part of synthetic biologist Christina Agapakis and odor-loving artist and researcher Sissel Tolaas’ project called “Selfmade.”

 

Photo Credit: All That's Interesting

 

If you are worried about its effects on our body, recent studies about microbes revealed that these tiny organisms are important to our well-being. “[Microbes] interact with each other, performing different roles, helping to form us, feed us, and protect us. It is now thought that the composition of our microbiome may even affect our mood, weight, intelligence, and personality,” the museum magazine explained. According to All That’s Interesting, a site for curious people who want to know more about what they saw on the news or read in history books, the exhibit aims to change the conversation around microbes, which have a reputation that they are not good for humans.

 

Photo Credit: All That's Interesting

 

Although this exhibit is not for everyone, human cheese has been praised by some people. “Great British Baking Show” runner-up Ruby Tandoh said, “It’s not gross, it’s art.”

This is not the first time that researchers have made human cheese. In 2013, 11 types of human cheese, including one from bacteria collected from the belly button of writer Michael Pollan, were created by Agapakis and Tolaas.

 

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