Cheese tech makes cut in Poland

Peter Bogucki of Princeton.

Peter Bogucki of Princeton.

Cheeses are the reason for the season?

That can’t be right, but apparently, a Princeton scholar does believe in cheeses produced by herders in Poland about 7,500 years ago.

While it started as a hunch, it all came down to science for Peter Bogucki of Princeton University. He thought pots covered in holes were used to sieve milk as part of the cheese-making process. Chemical analysis of ceramic vessels has revealed molecular traces of milk fats. The pots found in northern Poland, strained milk collected by early herders, he believes.

In an article posted here, chemist Richard Evershed, who contributed to the project added, “this is the first and only evidence of [Neolithic] cheese-making in the archaeological record.”

Cheese is easier to digest than fresh milk for adults, because it is naturally lower in lactose, so you can eat your cheese without cutting it. Yeah, it’s one of those pun-filled pieces.

Humans, especially back when we started domesticating sheep and cattle, lost our tolerance to lactose in childhood.

Oddly, Kevin Stroud, in his History of English Podcast, has one of the best descriptions of how this comes about in Episode 3.

Evershed said the find offered a look into the past to reveal, what he says was a complex relationship with animals beyond hunting and eating them.

“It’s building a picture for me, as a European, of where we came from: the origins of our culture and cuisines,”

Cheese-making expanded the available food for the larder, allowing the new farmers to get the most out of their livestock. Sure, you can kill and eat a goat. But isn’t it better to raise it and milk it while you can before? Stone age man and woman said ‘yes!’

An early version of modern mozzarella may have been an early cheese that was the result of curdling milk with bacteria found in nature, said cultural anthropologist Heather Paxson of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Archaeological sites from about 7,000 years ago in Africa and 9000 years ago near Istanbul have revealed evidence of dairy farming but no sieves were found and so no evidence of cheese techonology.

Istanbul is close to the centre of one of the earliest signs of domestication of animals has been found.

Cheese for most of time, has been a thing done at home or the farm. Switzerland introduced factory processing in 1815 and when it caught on in America, it began to take off. Oddly, aboriginals in North and South America did not produce cheese.

Samuel de Champlain brought cheese-making to Canada. He arrived in North America early in the 17th Century and it’s possible he brought the technology to the continent.


Canada was one of the first countries to apply the technique of pasteurization and was the first to introduce strict hygiene laws covering milk and cheese processing.

According to Statistics Canada, it was in 1864 that the first commercial cheese factory, The Pioneer, was built in Norwhich, Ontario, by an American named Harvey Farrington.

Canada began exporting cheese at the beginning of the 19th Century. Today, Canada is one of the most important exporters of Cheddar. The largest part of the production is sent to the United Kingdom, one of the biggest consumers of cheddar cheese.

In 1986, Ontario’s Ault Foods Ltd. won the title of ‘Best Cheese in the World’ at the World International Cheese Competition for it’s cheddar.

Ah, glory days!


Sending out for some ribs 1.2 million years ago

Well, yummy is yummy and yummy never changes.

Travis Pickering is the director of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA and a paleoanthropologist. And he found one of mankind’s early meals – baby backribs. Yum!

It looks like ribs are a popular repast now and they were pretty darn popular back in the day. Like the day as in 1.2 million years ago.

Ribs 1.2 million years old show signs of being gnawed on by human-like teeth. They also show signs of peeling, apparently a tell tale sign of human consumption.

The prey-animal ribs, says Travis Pickering and his team from the University of Wisconsin, have been analyzed with new methods and appear to bear ‘hominin tooth marks”. Other bone markings are being examined as proof they managed to bring the antelope ribs on their own and didn’t just scavenge remains from a lion or hyena.

The find was made in the Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania, Africa.

Pickering says one of the clues indicating human consumption was the peeling damage on the bones. He’d seen similar damage two decades earlier caused by chimpanzees. Humans and other primates can use their hands to break off a rib and at times in the process, peel off some of the outer covering. Our hands also allow us quick and easier access to yummy and nutritious marrow.




A loaf of bread, a jug of wine and… some acid!

Even the bread wasn’t safe.
The Central Intelligence Agency of the United States was chock full of sick monkeys in the 1950s. How else can you explain their actions against the allies of their country?

MK Ultra – where Canadian mental patients were the subject of client CIA mind control experiments in the 50s and into the next decade – is fairly well known in Canada.

The author of A Terrible Mistake, journalist Hank P. Albarelli Jr., says in August 1951, the CIA experimented with LSD, putting it in bread that was distributed in a French town causing an outbreak of psychotic episodes and physical symptoms.

Pont-Saint-Espirit was the scene of the secret experiment,says Albarelli, subjecting 250 people, including 50 who were housed in asylums. The outbreak was blamed for four deaths.

Pain maudit, or cursed bread, was blamed for the outbreak which also struck other parts of France but to a lesser extent.

Other factors have been blamed for the bad bread, ranging from mercury poisoning to nitrogen trichloride possibly being used illegally to bleach flour and the old ergot poisoning problem that may have caused the witch scare in Salem in the 1600s.

Albarelli, using Freedom of Information legislation, also obtained a CIA report from 1954. In it a representative from a Swiss chemical company is reported to have said, “The Pont-Saint-Esprit ‘secret’ is that it was not the bread at all… It was not grain ergot.”

Steven Kaplan, an author who backs the nitrogen trichloride theory, has called Albarelli’s claims a conspiracy theory.

Kaplan’s critics counter that uncontrolled experiments were the norm under the CIA’s MKULTRA program.

Zip ahead to Aug. 23 2010 when Britain’s BBC Radio 4 broadcasts an investigation by journalist Mike Thompson. He talks to residents of the town, Albarelli, and multiple academics. Thompson examined the victims’ experiences, treatment, the similarities and differences between ergot and LSD, the feasibility of overseas CIA trials, documentary evidence that “field trials” had been recommended and that Pont Saint Esprit operative Frank Olson had been mentioned in White House documents with instructions to “bury” the information. After becoming aware of Albarelli’s investigation, an 87 year old resident volunteered information that she and a local doctor believed that ergot could not have been the cause. Their view was based upon the doctor’s fingertip-only contact with the contaminant, which allegedly resulted in three days’ difficulty in speaking. Since LSD would have been destroyed in the baking process, Albarelli suggested that the LSD may have been added to the bread after baking.

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