There are all types of different cheese products in the world, and now cheese made from human body bacteria can be added to that list.
If the smell of any kind of cheese has ever seemed really foul, imagine what the aroma much be like in cheese that has come from the skin of a person’s foot.
Christina Agapakis, who is a biologist, got together with Sissel Tolaas, who is listed as an official “odor artist” and made various types of cheese, all created from taking swabs of human bacteria from various places of the body. They took bacteria from mouths, between toes, armpits and deep inside belly buttons and they added milk to the germs. They did this in what they say will hopefully challenge how human beings look at bacteria.
Agapakis explained how cheese is a model organism in which to work with. It allows a person to begin thinking about both good and also bad bacteria. She was giving a presentation at a conference in October.
The biologist notes that there are similar types of bacteria which live both between the toes of a human and exist inside cheese.
They put on an exhibit which showed microbial sketches of cheese which was made from the bacteria of distinguished individuals such as Michael Pollan, who is an author, and Olafur Eliasson, a celebrated artist. Agapakis and Tolaas also used some of their own microorganisms. Agapakis took bacteria from her mouth, while Tolaas has her feet swabbed. Pollan was the lucky individual who had cheese created from bacteria removed from his belly button.
The cheese also had the odor of the body of the donor, Agapakis explained. Cheese is usually made by taking milk and thickening it using bacteria taken from animals or plants along with yeast. It then ages and receives its flavor over time. But bacteria can be found any place.
The bacteria and yeast which are on the human body really are not that different from what grows inside cheese. That is why stinky cheese might smell like stinking feet. The biologist wants to know why people are so much uncomfortable with all the bacteria which are on the human body than the microbes located in cheese.
Enquiring cheese lovers and haters alike can examine all the samples for themselves. The exhibit is now on display at a science gallery in a college in Dublin, Ireland.
But smelling is all that can be done with this type of cheese. Even though it may be made from humans and by humans, it is not for people to eat. Instead, it is meant to cause thinking, Agapakis added. This was not done to gross individuals into never eating cheese again, but to get people to think about their emotional reactions to odors.
Tolaas stated that people who have come to view the exhibit seemed to be uncomfortable and very nervous. However, after they smelled the cheese, they thought it was just like normal. Even so, they have still created cheese that no one wants to eats, cheese from human bacteria.
By Kimberly Ruble