Would you eat cheese made from the armpits & toes of celebrities?
Cheeses made from human bacteria harvested from the armpits, toes, belly buttons and nostrils of celebrities like Heston Blumenthal and Blur bassist Alex James will be on display at a new food exhibit at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.
Called "Food: Bigger than the Plate," the exhibit is an ambitious project that explores everything from urban farming and gastronomy to politics and sustainability in the food system. Part of the exhibit is a human cheese experiment, led by synthetic biologist Christina Agapakis and olfactory artist Sissel Tolaas.
According to the V&A's blog, for the past few months, five cheeses have been maturing in a specially created "cheese cave" in a lab in West London, getting ready for their grand debut at the V&A. For his cheese, Blur musician James chose to be recreated as a Cheshire cheese; Blumenthal chose comté; British rapper Professor Green mozzarella; food writer Ruby Tandoh a stilton, and Madness frontman Suggs a young cheddar.
To create the human cheeses, scientists took swabs from areas that are normally breeding grounds for bacteria: Blumenthal's nostrils, James's armpit and Suggs's ear.
The bacteria was then grown in a lab and used as a starter culture for the cheeses.
But the cheeses weren't created just for yuck factor. Scientists say the project is to challenge our squeamishness and enhance our appreciation of the microbial world.
Because while some strains of bacteria are harmful, scientists are continually discovering the benefits of other microbes.
The cheeses will be on display and not for public consumption.
"Food: Bigger than the Plate" opens May 18 and runs until October 20.