Chelsea Green Publishing

Cheese and Culture

Pages:272 pages
Book Art:Black and white illustrations and map
Size: 6 x 9 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Paperback: 9781603585064
Pub. Date April 01, 2012

Cheese and Culture

A History of Cheese and its Place in Western Civilization

Food & Drink

Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
April 01, 2012


Behind every traditional type of cheese there is a fascinating story. By examining the role of the cheesemaker throughout world history and by understanding a few basic principles of cheese science and technology, we can see how different cheeses have been shaped by and tailored to their surrounding environment, as well as defined by their social and cultural context. Cheese and Culture endeavors to advance our appreciation of cheese origins by viewing human history through the eyes of a cheese scientist.

There is also a larger story to be told, a grand narrative that binds all cheeses together into a single history that started with the discovery of cheese making and that is still unfolding to this day. This book reconstructs that 9000-year story based on the often fragmentary information that we have available. Cheese and Culture embarks on a journey that begins in the Neolithic Age and winds its way through the ensuing centuries to the present. This tour through cheese history intersects with some of the pivotal periods in human prehistory and ancient, classical, medieval, renaissance, and modern history that have shaped western civilization, for these periods also shaped the lives of cheesemakers and the diverse cheeses that they developed. The book offers a useful lens through which to view our twenty-first century attitudes toward cheese that we have inherited from our past, and our attitudes about the food system more broadly.

This refreshingly original book will appeal to anyone who loves history, food, and especially good cheese.


"All honor and respect to Aristaious -- the Greek god who taught us to make cheese -- and to Paul Kindstedt, who in Cheese and Culture teaches us its glorious history ever since."--Rob Kaufelt, proprietor, Murray's Cheese NYC

"From the Garden of Eden to the dairy industries of today, Paul S. Kindstedt unfolds the monumental story of cheese. Vast in scope, rich in detail, Cheese and Culture is a casein-inspired epic."--Eric LeMay, author of Immortal Milk

"Cheese and Culture is the book both cheese professionals and cheese geeks have been waiting for. Professor Kindstedt gives us the mostly untold history of cheese and its societal import from 6500 BC to the present, answering all my cheese questions -- even the ones I didn't know I had. Cheese and Culture is the most comprehensive cheese book ever written by an American, a great addition to our collective cheese library."--Gordon Edgar, cheese buyer, Rainbow Grocery Cooperative, San Francisco, and author of Cheesemonger: A Life on the Wedge

"In this painstakingly researched yet passion-laced book, Paul Kindstedt shows us how cheese, from its rudimentary beginnings to today's manufacturing, is inextricably linked to culture and, no less, to our future. Cheese and Culture is essential reading for anyone who loves cheese and, equally, cares about the future of food itself."--Laura Werlin, author, Laura Werlin's Cheese Essentials

"I love this book - accessible in its prose and style with the breadth and depth of an academic work. All those interested in the role that cheesemaking has played in the development of the world we live in will come away after reading this book with context and understanding, and an intellectual appreciation of why cheese appeals to so many people at an emotional level. Paul Kindstedt has produced a seminal work in Cheese and Culture."--Mateo Kehler, cheesemaker, Jasper Hill Farm

"Paul Kindstedt has fashioned a remarkable book about one of humankind's most distinctive foods. Drawing upon comprehensive evidence from archaeology to contemporary artisan cheese making, Dr. Kindstedt shapes the complex story of cheese. He examines the impact of geography and climate, religion, social status and wealth, transportation and commerce... to describe and explain the 8,500-year evolution of cheese from Neolithic humans to present-day America. From archaeologists and anthropologists and historians to cheesemakers and consumers who want to deepen their understanding and appreciation of cheese, Dr. Kindstedt's book will enlighten, entertain, and reveal the fascinating history and culture of cheese. Bravissimi e complimenti!"--Jeffrey Roberts, New England Culinary Institute, and author of The Atlas of American Artisan Cheese

"Only a true scholar could weave together the complexity of history, anthropology, language, geography, religion and science to inform and enlighten our understanding of the evolution of cheese making throughout the millennia. Kindstedt, first and foremost with his discerning scientific mind, helps historians inform the heretofore mysteries in the cheese making continuum."--Catherine Donnelly, PhD, co-director, Vermont Institute for Artisan Cheese

"Dr. Kindstedt's love and passion for the artisan cheese movement is inspiring. In his latest book, he has presented a beautiful and historically rich mosaic of the history of cheese on our little green planet. With reference to the past, and detailed attention paid to the present, as well as extrospection for the future, Dr. Kindstedt has created an amalgamation of artisan cheese reference, the like of which has not been attempted before."--Matt Jennings, co-owner/executive chef, Farmstead/La Laiterie, Providence, RI

"This book will fascinate anyone who loves cheese. With a sweeping perspective, from the earliest prehistoric domestication of goats and sheep to the present, it chronicles how social, technological, and political developments gave rise to the vast array of cheeses we know and love."--Sandor Ellix Katz, author of The Art of Fermentation, The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved, and Wild Fermentation

"No cheese lover or cheesemaker's education will be complete without reading of the epic journey of cheese as it influences and is influenced by human civilization. Paul Kindstedt steers the reader through a vast sea of history with the steady, inspired hand and confidence of a seasoned captain of his subject. What a gift to the world of cheese!"--Gianaclis Caldwell, cheesemaker, Pholia Farm, and author of The Farmstead Creamery Advisor

"Given the vast amount that's been written about cheese down the centuries, the surprising absence of a scholarly work on the history of cheese is all the more remarkable. With Cheese and Culture, noted dairy scientist and author Paul Kindstedt has admirably filled this gap to an extent that should satisfy even the most avid cheese geek."--Kate Arding, co-founder, Culture magazine

ForeWord Reviews-
Cheese, glorious cheese. Who knew the 9,000 years of innovation, lore, history, and romance in your story? Who knew skim milk cheeses initially flourished not for diet reasons, but because they were cheaper for London’s working-classes? That higher-temperature cooking techniques contributed to the development of dry and aged cheeses? Or that economics, religion, social mores, climate, and—well, nearly anything—has influenced the evolution of cheese in all its forms, styles, tastes, shapes, and uses? Paul S. Kindstedt knows, and now, through his impeccably researched, and carefully assembled book, any cheese lover can know, too.  Kindstedt’s is a book written with scholarly rigor; yet, that detail-laden precision also makes it palatable for foodies curious about how and why food choices, production, and tastes have emerged over centuries—the person jazzed to learn, for example, that ‘Grated cheese seems to have occupied a special place in Greek culture’ indicated by a wounded soldier being served ‘an elixir consisting of Pramnian wine on which (his slave) sprinkles goat’s-milk cheese, grated with a bronze grater,’ or that the seasonal movement of cows across south-central France inspired techniques for producing longer-lasting mountain cheeses. Like the range of cheeses available today, at times Cheese and Culture can be overwhelming, and the chapter on regulation reads like an alphabet soup of agency abbreviations and acronyms. But, like the veined or sharply flavored offerings on a cheese plate, one could choose to skip it and still be satiated.

Library Journal-
Kindstedt (food science, Univ. of Vermont) delivers an extensively researched and comprehensive history of cheese and its place in the development of Western civilization. Beginning with the ancient origins of cheese making and moving through the classical, medieval, and Renaissance periods to the modern era, the author examines the traditional cheeses that came about during each period and how they were tailored to the environment and culture of the time. Finally, he explores the friction that has developed between the United States and the European Union over issues surrounding cheese making and trade, such as protecting traditional product names, food safety regulation, and the use of new agricultural technologies such as genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and hormones. VERDICT: Incorporating archaeology, religion, and literature, this detailed, accessible history will appeal to readers who enjoy food histories.

Cheese scientist Kindstedt (Univ. of Vermont) has written a lively history of cheese through an examination of the cultural environments from which specific types of cheese-making traditions were born and, in some cases, have continued to the present. Kindstedt begins as early as possible with archaeological evidence of early fresh cheese making in the Fertile Crescent and its role in pre-Christian religious ritual. He quickly moves on to the introduction of rennet in cheese making and cheese in Greek and Roman civilizations and incorporation into daily life, both mundane and sacred. The last half of the book concentrates on the European cheese-making tradition and the role of monasteries in the development of aged cheeses. Surprisingly, Kindstedt does not spend too much time discussing factory-made cheese and the move away from traditional cheese making. But he does end with a timely discussion on raw milk safety and multinational trade laws that impact traditional cheeses, as well as a brief discussion on the artisanal cheese movement. Cheese and Culture is a well-researched, concise, and valuable addition to any food history collection. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through graduate students; general readers.


  • Runner-up - International Association of Culinary Professionals


Paul Kindstedt

Paul Kindstedt is a Professor of Food Science in the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences at the University of Vermont. He has authored numerous research articles and invited conference proceedings on dairy chemistry and cheese science, as well as many book chapters. He is the author of Cheese and Culture: A History of Cheese and its Place in Western Civilization, and the co-author of American Farmstead Cheese (2005) with the Vermont Cheese Council.  He has received national professional recognition for both his research and teaching and currently serves as the Co-Director of the Vermont Institute for Artisan Cheese at the University of Vermont. He is married and blessed with three children who are the joy of his life.


Vermont Institute for Artican Cheese


American Farmstead Cheese

American Farmstead Cheese

By Paul Kindstedt

This comprehensive guide to farmstead cheese explains the diversity of cheeses in terms of historical animal husbandry, pastures, climate, preservation, and transport-all of which still contribute to the uniqueness of farm cheeses today.
Discover the composition of milk (and its seasonal variations), starter cultures, and the chemistry of cheese. The book includes:

  • A fully illustrated guide to basic cheesemaking
  • Discussions on the effects of calcium, pH, salt, and moisture on the process
  • Ways to ensure safety and quality through sampling and risk reduction
  • Methods for analyzing the resulting composition

You will meet artisan cheesemaker Peter Dixon, who will remind you of the creative spirit of nature as he shares his own process for cheesemaking. Alison Hooper, cofounder of Vermont Butter & Cheese Company, shares her experience-both the mistakes and the successes-to guide you in your own business adventure with cheese. David and Cindy Major, owners of Vermont Shepherd, a sheep dairy and cheese business, tell the story of their farm and business from rocky beginning to successful end.

Available in: Hardcover

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American Farmstead Cheese

Paul Kindstedt

Hardcover $40.00


A new book about cheese and culture

A new book about cheese and culture


The Heal Your Gut Cookbook

The Heal Your Gut Cookbook

By Hilary Boynton and Mary Brackett

With more than two hundred straightforward, nutrient-dense, and appealing recipes, The Heal Your Gut Cookbook was created by GAPS Diet experts Hilary Boynton and Mary G. Brackett to help heal your gut and to manage the illnesses that stem from it.

Developed by pioneering British MD Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, who provides the book’s Foreword, Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) refers to disorders, including ADD/ADHD, autism, addictions, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder, stemming from or exacerbated by leaky gut and dysbiosis. GAPS also refers to chronic gut-related physical conditions, including celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes type one, and Crohn’s disease, as well as asthma, eczema, allergies, thyroid disorders, and more. An evolution of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, the GAPS Diet will appeal to followers of the Paleo Diet, who are still struggling for optimum health, as well as anyone interested in the health benefits of fermentation or the Weston A. Price approach to nutrition.

In The Heal Your Gut Cookbook, readers will learn about the key cooking techniques and ingredients that form the backbone of the GAPS Diet: working with stocks and broths, soaking nuts and seeds, using coconut, and culturing raw dairy. The authors offer encouraging, real-life perspectives on the life-changing improvements to the health of their families by following this challenging, but powerful, diet.

The GAPS Diet is designed to restore the balance between beneficial and pathogenic intestinal bacteria and seal the gut through the elimination of grains, processed foods, and refined sugars and the carefully sequenced reintroduction of nutrient-dense foods, including bone broths, raw cultured dairy, certain fermented vegetables, organic pastured eggs, organ meats, and more.

The Heal Your Gut Cookbook is a must-have if you are following the GAPS Diet, considering the GAPS Diet, or simply looking to improve your digestive health and—by extension—your physical and mental well-being.

Available in: Paperback

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The Heal Your Gut Cookbook

Hilary Boynton, Mary Brackett, Natasha Campbell-McBride

Paperback $29.95

The Hop Grower's Handbook

The Hop Grower's Handbook

By Laura Ten Eyck and Dietrich Gehring

With information on siting, planting, tending, harvesting, processing, and brewing

It’s hard to think about beer these days without thinking about hops. 

The runaway craft beer market’s convergence with the ever-expanding local foods movement is helping to spur a local-hops renaissance. The demand from craft brewers for local ingredients to make beer—such as hops and barley—is robust and growing. That’s good news for farmers looking to diversify, but the catch is that hops have not been grown commercially in the eastern United States for nearly a century. 

Today, farmers from Maine to North Carolina are working hard to respond to the craft brewers’ desperate call for locally grown hops. But questions arise: How best to create hop yards—virtual forests of 18-foot poles that can be expensive to build? How to select hop varieties, and plant and tend the bines, which often take up to three years to reach full production? How to best pick, process, and price them for market? And, how best to manage the fungal diseases and insects that wiped out the eastern hop industry one hundred years ago, and which are thriving in the hotter and more humid states thanks to climate change? Answers to these questions can be found in The Hop Grower’s Handbook—the only book on the market about raising hops sustainably, on a small scale, for the commercial craft beer market in the Northeast.  

Written by hop farmers and craft brewery owners Laura Ten Eyck and Dietrich Gehring, The Hop Grower’s Handbook is a beautifully photographed and illustrated book that weaves the story of their Helderberg Hop Farm with the colorful history of New York and New England hop farming, relays horticultural information about the unusual hop plant and the mysterious resins it produces that give beer a distinctively bitter flavor, and includes an overview of the numerous native, heirloom, and modern varieties of hops and their purposes. The authors also provide an easy-to-understand explanation of the beer-brewing process—critical for hop growers to understand in order be able to provide the high-quality product brewers want to buy—along with recipes from a few of their favorite home and micro-brewers.

The book also provides readers with detailed information on: 
•    Selecting, preparing, and designing a hop yard site, including irrigation;
•    Tending to the hops, with details on best practices to manage weeds, insects, and diseases; and,
•    Harvesting, drying, analyzing, processing, and pricing hops for market.

The overwhelming majority of books and resources devoted to hop production currently available are geared toward the Pacific Northwest’s large-scale commercial growers, who use synthetic pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, and fertilizers and deal with regionally specific climate, soils, weeds, and insect populations. Ten Eyck and Gehring, however, focus on farming hops sustainably. While they relay their experience about growing in a new Northeastern climate subject to the higher temperatures and volatile cycles of drought and deluge brought about by global warming, this book will be an essential resource for home-scale and small-scale commercial hops growers in all regions.

Available in: Paperback

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The Hop Grower's Handbook

Laura Ten Eyck, Dietrich Gehring

Paperback $34.95

Sustainable Food

Sustainable Food

By Elise McDonough

Wondering whether it’s worth it to splurge on the locally raised beef? What about those organic carrots? New in the Chelsea Green Guides series, Sustainable Food: How to Buy Right and Spend Less helps the average shopper navigate the choices, whether strolling the aisles of a modern supermarket or foraging at a local farmers market.

This down-to-earth, casual guide—small enough to be slipped into your pocket—answers these and other questions for the shopper:

  • What are the differences among organic, local, fair-trade, free-range, naturally raised, and biodynamic foods?
  • How affordable is it to subscribe to a CSA farm—and what are the advantages?
  • Is it better to choose wild Alaskan salmon at $18.99, or the Chilean farmed fish at $11.99?
  • What cooking oils can be sustainably sourced?
  • How can a food co-op increase access to, and affordability of, healthier, Earth-friendly foods?
  • Where can you find sustainably produced sugar, and are there any local replacements for sweeteners from faraway lands?
  • What do the distinctions between shade-grown and trellised coffee mean?
  • Is shark okay to eat? How about mackerel?
  • Why is the war on plastic bags so important?

Sustainable eating just got easier.

Available in: Paperback

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Sustainable Food

Elise McDonough

Paperback $7.95

Full Moon Feast

Full Moon Feast

By Jessica Prentice

Full Moon Feast invites us to a table brimming with locally grown foods, radical wisdom, and communal nourishment.

In Full Moon Feast, accomplished chef and passionate food activist Jessica Prentice champions locally grown, humanely raised, nutrient-rich foods and traditional cooking methods. The book follows the thirteen lunar cycles of an agrarian year, from the midwinter Hunger Moon and the springtime sweetness of the Sap Moon to the bounty of the Moon When Salmon Return to Earth in autumn. Each chapter includes recipes that display the richly satisfying flavors of foods tied to the ancient rhythm of the seasons.

Prentice decries our modern food culture: megafarms and factories, the chemically processed ghosts of real foods in our diets, and the suffering--physical, emotional, cultural, communal, and spiritual--born of a disconnect from our food sources. She laments the system that is poisoning our bodies and our communities.

But Full Moon Feast is a celebration, not a dirge. Prentice has emerged from her own early struggles with food to offer health, nourishment, and fulfillment to her readers. She recounts her relationships with local farmers alongside ancient harvest legends and methods of food preparation from indigenous cultures around the world.

Combining the radical nutrition of Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions, keen agri-political acumen, and a spiritual sensibility that draws from indigenous as well as Western traditions, Full Moon Feast is a call to reconnect to our food, our land, and each other.

Available in: Paperback

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Full Moon Feast

Jessica Prentice, Deborah Madison

Paperback $25.00