(Yup, this is the sort of stuff I have on my cookbook shelf.)We must reclaim our food. Food is much more than simply nourishment. It embodies a complex web of relationships. It is a huge part of the context in which we exist. Reclaiming our food means actively involving ourselves in this web.
The foods that fill our contemporary supermarket shelves are products of a globalized infrastructure of proprietary genetic material, synthetic and often dangerous chemicals, monocultures, long-distance transportation, factory-scale processing, wasteful packaging, and energy-sucking refrigeration. The food being produced by this system is destroying the earth, destroying our health, destroying our economic vitality, and robbing us of our dignity by breeding dependency and reducing us to the subservient role of consumer.
We need to cultivate a different set of relationships.
After a good rant about the problems with lab-grown cultures (dependency on corporations, weakness of the bacterial strains, etc etc) he settles in to tell us how we can make cheese without them, using wild fermentation.Standard methods of cheesemaking – reliant on pasteurization, freeze-dried starters, and synthetic rennets that interfere with the ecology of cheese – are equivalent to standard practices in industrial agriculture, such as the standard use of hybrid seeds, chemical fertilizers, and pesticides that have overtaken traditional agriculture, and conflict with the ecology of the land. Cheese comes from the land and is one of our most celebrated foods; yet its current production methods are environmentally destructive, corporately controlled, and chemically dependent. In its eating we are not celebrating the traditions of agriculture but rather pasteurization, stainless-steel production, biotechnology, and corporate culture. [...] We need a more radical cheesemaking, a more natural approach to the medium of milk.
Now, I thought that to make cheese like that, you'd need to use raw milk. And raw milk, as you may know, is increasingly hard to get hold of in Australia - especially if you don't have a car to trek out to a friendly (and less than law-abiding) farm. But this is where Asher is an utter genius, because he's discovered that you can use pasteurised milk if you inoculate it with a bit of kefir.