Cheese changed the development of Western civilization
Delivery cheese. (Reuters / Denis Balibouse) i>
Cheese - a unique product, a kind of chameleon in the world of food. No other food is not produced in a wide range of textures and tastes. But in addition to the gastronomic values, he played an important role in the development of our entire civilization. In the latest edition of the podcast Gastropod about this tells Paul Kindstedt (Paul Kindstedt), professor at the University of Vermont and author of the book « Cheese and Culture ».
According to popular myth, humanity was cheese around 7000 BC as a result of happy accident: one of nomads from Mesopotamia allegedly took the road milk, using a thermos animal's stomach. However, upon arrival, he found that the enzyme remaining in the "thermos" got milk clot and formed the first cheese.
Kindstedt professor explains that in reality this story is hardly occurred because the inhabitants of the Ancient Near East was rampant lactose intolerant. Hypothetical traveler just did not want to take with milk as a drink.
For thousands of years before humans mastered agriculture. Vast fields of wheat and other crops have attracted wild sheep and goats. People quickly noticed that the sheep and goat's milk can drink babies instead of the parent. But in those days were the only infants who consumed milk, because adults were lactose intolerant. Modern archaeological and genetic studies indicate that the total lactose intolerance persisted until 5500 BC, ie after at least 1,000 years after the invention of the cheese.
According to Kinstedta, the mystery is explained by the fact that in about 6500 BC were invented pottery to collect milk. Such milk clotting vessels within a few hours due to the typical heat Middle East and natural lactic acid bacteria. At some point, some of the locals probably tasted the resulting solid material, and noticed that the body is able to absorb the fresh cheese is much better than milk. The fact that about 80% of the lactose from whey flowed, so that this cheese was more suitable for human consumption from lactose intolerance c.
This discovery has played a crucial role in the development of human civilization. It turned out that in lean years the cheese is capable literally save people from starvation as the only nutritious food, rich in fat and calories. It was a completely new source of nutrients for adults.
The importance of the new discoveries of Western civilization indicated by the fact that within a very small time (by the standards of the evolution of a few thousand years - it almost instantly) there was a massive genetic selection, so that lactose intolerance is almost ceased to occur in adults in the Middle East.
Kinstedt believes that genetic selection began at a young age when children become longer feed the sheep and goat's milk. The larger the chances of survival had children with a genetic mutation that allowed to digest milk as long as possible throughout life.
Then, as a result of migration, this genetic mutation spread to people in Europe (for comparison, in China, lactose intolerance is much more common now than in Europe). "This is an absolutely stunning example of genetic selection, which occurred in an incredibly short period of time in human history. It really is a miracle, and it changed Western civilization forever, "- says Paul Kindstedt.
According Kinstedta, modern cheeses closest to the first ancient ricotta cheese are and goat cheese (chèvre), which are offset under the influence of temperature and lactic acid bacteria without the use of the enzyme.