Warning: even if, on principle and intellectually, you have no problem with the concept of breast-milk cuisine, you will likely be grossed out by this vaguely sexual, milk-tasting photo. But the topic is sexy cooking with breast milk, so hey.
Abi Blake is really into cooking with her breast-milk. Says the Sun, "The stay-at-home mum has held several dinner parties, often serving lasagne or pasta made using breast milk for the cream sauce. Her speciality is vanilla breast milk cheesecake." She's also invited firends to tea and served a whole spread of creamy delights, only to reveal afterwards that they'd been suckling at the teat, as it were. Nowadays, she's more about full-disclosure, selling her baked goods at local festivals. Her repertoire also includes "breast milk chocolate bars," "breast milk smoothies" and "breast-milk fudge." As one website, "Land of Milk and Honey," reminds us, "breastmilk can readily be substituted for anything that calls for milk: Creamer for coffee or tea (iced or hot), scrambled eggs, instant hot chocolate made with breastmilk instead of water (don't forget the marshmallows!), good ole mac n cheese, cheesecake, what about fudge and eggnog during the holidays?"
Like many a nursing mother, Blake is quick to cite breast milk's benefits — although she takes it a bit further. The wholesomeness of her diet, she explains, as well as the cleanliness of her breast (as opposed to that of a cow) makes it, she says, far more wholesome. Then there's the fact that breast milk has all those mysterious benefits. Says the article, "a compound found in it, dubbed Hamlet - Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumour - has been found to kill 40 types of cancer cells in tests, without causing the same damaging side effects as chemotherapy."
Of course, these compounds may not be as effective — especially for an adult body — in trace amounts. Says one doctor quoted in the piece,
[breast milk] does not provide as much iron as cow's milk and I cannot see the benefit of giving it to an adult. While Abi is not doing any harm to her friends and family, they will not hugely benefit from consuming her breast milk. An ordinary, healthy adult does not need white cells to help them fight infection as a baby does - they already have a strong, fully developed and functioning immune system. As for the suggestion that breast milk helps fight cancer, I am not sure there is enough solid evidence yet.
In any case, it seems like cooking could potentially negate some of the properties found in a substance designed to be eaten straight, by a developing body. Health types have advised against consuming mom's milk, although more because they can't regulate production or assess the women's health than for any more sinister reason — think the rationales against raw milk. That said, it does seem like the women who are keen on this — earth-mother types with a serious interest in health and wholesomeness — would by default be pretty safe vessels, as long as it stayed a cottage industry. And Blake gets regular STD and blood tests to make sure her milk is pure.
What's more, Blake is evangelical not only about the nutritional properties of mother's milk, but its superior taste as well, citing its long use in Indian cooking (of which I couldn't find online documentation.) Says she,"Breast milk is sweeter and slightly oily - it actually tastes of goodness, whereas cows milk just tastes of chemicals." She says her family now "adore my breast milk recipes and they all agree it tastes better." (It should be noted that her family, as described in the piece, numbers two others, one of whom is a baby.) However, this is the same reason some foodies have decried the practice. It's not, for everyone, not because of some "ick" factor or squeamishness but because these very properties — its thinness and higher sugar content — make it less-suited to cooking. Said Liz Thorpe, a vice-president at Manhattan's well-respected Murray's Cheese who sampled the chef-made cheese that caused a stir in NYC a few weeks back, "It was slippery, slightly crunchy and tasted like pickles...I give it a thumbs down." In any case, it seems like the supply will, eventually, dry up, unless wet-nursing or some kind of black-market milkery. While Blake's family may be bereft, we're guessing those customers at her local market will be able to bear the loss with equanimity.