POST-PASTEURIAN CULTURES: The Microbiopolitics of Raw-Milk Cheese in the United States:

HEATHER PAXSON

ABSTRACT

Out of concern for public health, the U.S. government bans the sale of cheese made from unpasteurized milk if it is aged fewer than 60 days. But while the FDA views raw-milk cheese as a potential biohazard, riddled with pathogenic microbes, aficionados see it as the reverse: as a traditional food processed for safety by the action of good microbes. This article offers a theoretical frame for understanding the recent rise in American artisan raw-milk cheese production, as well as wider debates over food localism, nutrition, and safety. Drawing on ethnographic interviews with cheese makers and purveyors and on participant-labor conducted on a Vermont sheep dairy farm, I develop the concept of microbiopolitics to analyze how farmer–cheese makers, industry consultants, retailers, and consumers negotiate Pasteurian (hygienic) and post-Pasteurian (probiotic) attitudes about the microbial agents at the heart of raw-milk cheese and controversies about this nature–culture hybrid.

Access to this content is restricted.

  • If you are a AAA member please login to obtain full-text access.
  • If you are not a AAA member you can find out more information and join here https://avectra.aaanet.org/eweb/DynamicPage.aspx?webcode=verify.
  • If you are a library patron of an academic institution, and are experiencing an access issue please contact your library administrator for assistance.
  • If you would like to purchase online access to this single article please locate the article on Wiley Online Library or contact a Wiley-Blackwell customer service representative at cs-journals@wiley.com.