When Michael Pollan said we should make our food ourselves, we kind of thought he meant home cooking, not culturing cheese from your belly button bacteria. But scientist Christina Agapakis and scent expert Sissel Tolaas have done just that, producing dairy products made using Pollan’s navel microbes. And it looks almost edible. Almost.
Agapakis and Tolaas also made cheese using bacteria from the bodies of 10 other luminaries, including the tears of artist Olafur Eliaason and curator Hans Ulrich Obrist’s nose — and, fittingly, microbes from the toes of microbiologist Ben Wolfe and the mouth of Seana Doughty, a cheesemaker. Each cheeseparent donated microbes by sending in a swab, which was then cultured into cheeses that “smell, and taste, of the body odor of the donor,” according to Dezeen magazine, which we won’t ask how they know. (Actually, Agapakis told them. We won’t ask how she knows.)
The creators assure us that “nobody will eat these cheeses” — they’re just going to be on display at the Science Gallery in Dublin. But the hope is that their very grossness will start a conversation about the connections between our food, our bacteria, our selves, and of course the stinky miasma we all walk around in. “By making cheese directly from the microbes on the body, we want to highlight these bacterial connections as well as to question and potentially expand the role of both odours and microbes in our lives,” Agapakis says.
Well. We’re sure that’s ONE of the conversations people will have about this. Another one will probably NOT be “so, who’s up for lunch?”
Olafur Eliasson's tears used to make human cheese, Dezeen.