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Articles > News & Politics June, 03, 2019

Top 4 Weird Facts about Dairy

Osama Belarbi
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Dairy products found on supermarket shelves are, apparently, deceptively well-behaved.

Don’t be fooled, though; I’ve found some facts which expose them for the weirdos they really are! From yoghurt that comes from space to cheese raised on music, it appears that researchers aren’t afraid to test the capabilities of dairy.

1. Margarine Smear Campaign

Soon after France invented margarine in 1869, it became a cheap alternative to butter. It was a hit in the United States, where dairy farmers decided to fight back against it in quite an ugly manner. Their campaign insisted that margarine was unhealthy, caused mental illness, and threatened the moral order. Perhaps even worse, it threatened the American way of life!

The campaign’s claims about shady sources for margarine’s ingredients were so successful that the legal system created the 1886 Margarine Act. It was the first of many laws designed to tax the substitute into submission, which nearly destroyed the margarine industry. So much for fake news nowadays…

Most bizarrely, the state of New Hampshire ordered that margarine had to be pink. Since turning it pink made margarine looked strange, its sales plummeted. Defying the pink law meant two months in prison, giving manufacturers nowhere to run. Eventually though, the Supreme Court did declare that it was a ‘stupid law’ (in so many words) and reversed it.

2. Space Yoghurt

In 2006, a rocket left the Baikonur Cosmodrome with two unusual passengers. Himawari Dairy from Japan had placed two strains of bacteria on board.

The strains were lactic acid bacteria and a unique line of Lactobacillus paracasei. The expectation was that cosmic radiation would somehow boost the bacteria’s flavour and immune system benefits in yoghurt.

After 10 days in orbit, almost half of the delicate bacteria died and the rest was made into yoghurt back on Earth. Himawari Dairy claims that the surviving organisms gave the yoghurt a stronger flavour than those made with Earthbound bacteria. They even called it “Uchu O Tabi Shita Yoghurt” (“yoghurt that travelled in space”).

3. Musical Cheese Flavours

In 2018, Beat Wampfler suggested (and don’t ask where the idea came from) that music could affect the flavour of cheese. Together with a team from Bern University, he matured nine cheese wheels in a cellar for six months. Placed in its own crate, each Emmental cheese listened to a nonstop loop of a single song.

There was a ‘rock’ box that listened to Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin. The classical cheese got classy to sounds from Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Vril’s UV raised a techno cheese, while an ambient wedge was soothed by Yello’s Monolith.

The other cheeses were used as silent controls or exposed to single tones. It was the hip-hop cheese that came out on top with the cheesiest flavour. That particular wheel got treated to A Tribe Called Quest’s Jazz (We’ve Got).

4. The Next Superfood

Feeding the growing global population requires out-of-the-box thinking. In some cases, this means looking into producing cheese from cockroaches!

Although roaches are not the most adorable or appetizing thing to look at, a species called Diploptera Punctate could be the answer to world hunger. This roach feeds its offspring with a milk protein crystal, but wait, here comes the zinger: a single crystal has three times more energy than buffalo milk, which is already more nutritious than cow’s milk.

Scientists have been able to isolate the genes behind the crystal production and are now attempting to recreate the genes in the laboratory. These crystals are a complete food that contains fats, sugars, and proteins. In addition, they have all the essential amino acids and release more protein during digestion. For those needing a dense source of sustenance that continues to provide energy long after eating, this could be the perfect supplement!

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