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 Wild Wisdom of Weeds

The Wild Wisdom of Weeds

By Katrina Blair

The Wild Wisdom of Weeds is the only book on foraging and edible weeds to focus on the thirteen weeds found all over the world, each of which represents a complete food source and extensive medical pharmacy and first-aid kit.  More than just a field guide to wild edibles, it is a global plan for human survival. 

When Katrina Blair was eleven she had a life-changing experience where wild plants spoke to her, beckoning her to become a champion of their cause. Since then she has spent months on end taking walkabouts in the wild, eating nothing but what she forages, and has become a wild-foods advocate, community activist, gardener, and chef, teaching and presenting internationally about foraging and the healthful lifestyle it promotes. 

Katrina Blair’s philosophy in The Wild Wisdom of Weeds is sobering, realistic, and ultimately optimistic. If we can open our eyes to see the wisdom found in these weeds right under our noses, instead of trying to eradicate an “invasive,” we will achieve true food security. The Wild Wisdom of Weeds is about healing ourselves both in body and in spirit, in an age where technology, commodity agriculture, and processed foods dictate the terms of our intelligence. But if we can become familiar with these thirteen edible survival weeds found all over the world, we will never go hungry, and we will become closer to our own wild human instincts—all the while enjoying the freshest, wildest, and most nutritious food there is. For free!

The thirteen plants found growing in every region across the world are: dandelion, mallow, purslane, plantain, thistle, amaranth, dock, mustard, grass, chickweed, clover, lambsquarter, and knotweed.  These special plants contribute to the regeneration of the earth while supporting the survival of our human species; they grow everywhere where human civilization exists, from the hottest deserts to the Arctic Circle, following the path of human disturbance. Indeed, the more humans disturb the earth and put our food supply at risk, the more these thirteen plants proliferate. It’s a survival plan for the ages.

Including over one hundred unique recipes, Katrina Blair’s book teaches us how to prepare these wild plants from root to seed in soups, salads, slaws, crackers, pestos, seed breads, and seed butters; cereals, green powders, sauerkrauts, smoothies, and milks; first-aid concoctions such as tinctures, teas, salves, and soothers; self-care/beauty products including shampoo, mouthwash, toothpaste (and brush), face masks; and a lot more. Whether readers are based at home or traveling, this book aims to empower individuals to maintain a state of optimal health with minimal cost and effort.    

Available in: Paperback

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The Wild Wisdom of Weeds

Sandor Ellix Katz, Katrina Blair

Paperback $29.95

Genetic Roulette

Genetic Roulette

By Jeffrey M. Smith

Eating genetically modified food is gambling with every bite.

The biotech industry's claim that genetically modified (GM) foods are safe is shattered in this groundbreaking book. Sixty-five health risks of the foods that Americans eat every day are presented in easy-to-read two-page spreads. The left page is designed for the quick scanning reader; it includes bullets, illustrations, and quotes. The right side offers fully referenced text, describing both research studies and theoretical risks. The second half of Genetic Roulette shows how safety assessments on GM crops are not competent to identify the health problems presented in the first half. It also exposes how industry research is rigged to avoid finding problems.

This book, prepared in with input by more than 30 scientists, is for anyone wanting to understand GM technology, to learn how to protect themselves, or to share their concerns with others. It is presented in the clear, accessible style that made Jeffrey Smith's Seeds of Deception the world's best-selling book on genetically engineered foods. As the world's most complete reference on the health risks of GM foods, Genetic Roulette is also ideal for schools and libraries.

Available in: Hardcover

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Genetic Roulette

Jeffrey M. Smith

Hardcover $27.95

Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning

Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning

Typical books about preserving garden produce nearly always assume that modern "kitchen gardeners" will boil or freeze their vegetables and fruits. Yet here is a book that goes back to the future—celebrating traditional but little-known French techniques for storing and preserving edibles in ways that maximize flavor and nutrition.

Translated into English, and with a new foreword by Deborah Madison, this book deliberately ignores freezing and high-temperature canning in favor of methods that are superior because they are less costly and more energy-efficient.

As Eliot Coleman says in his foreword to the first edition, "Food preservation techniques can be divided into two categories: the modern scientific methods that remove the life from food, and the natural 'poetic' methods that maintain or enhance the life in food. The poetic techniques produce... foods that have been celebrated for centuries and are considered gourmet delights today."

Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning offers more than 250 easy and enjoyable recipes featuring locally grown and minimally refined ingredients. It is an essential guide for those who seek healthy food for a healthy world.

Available in: Paperback

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Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning

Eliot Coleman, Deborah Madison

Paperback $25.00

Wild Fermentation & Fermentation Workshop with Sandor Ellix Katz (Book & DVD Bundle)

Wild Fermentation & Fermentation Workshop with Sandor Ellix Katz (Book & DVD Bundle)

By Sandor Ellix Katz

In this exclusive package, experience a complete look at fermentation with both the DVD of one of Sandor Ellix Katz's popular workshops and a copy of Sandor Ellix Katz’s Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods, the first cookbook to widely explore the culinary magic of fermentation. This book provides readers with basic and delicious recipes—some familiar, others exotic—that are easy to make at home. With nearly 100 recipes, it is the most comprehensive and wide-ranging fermentation cookbook ever published.

Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods

Bread. Cheese. Wine. Beer. Coffee. Chocolate. Most people consume fermented foods and drinks every day. For thousands of years, humans have enjoyed the distinctive flavors and nutrition resulting from the transformative power of microscopic bacteria and fungi. Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods is the first cookbook to widely explore the culinary magic of fermentation.

"Fermentation has been an important journey of discovery for me," writes author Sandor Ellix Katz. "I invite you to join me along this effervescent path, well trodden for thousands of years yet largely forgotten in our time and place, bypassed by the superhighway of industrial food production."

The flavors of fermentation are compelling and complex, quite literally alive. This book takes readers on a whirlwind trip through the wide world of fermentation, providing readers with basic and delicious recipes-some familiar, others exotic-that are easy to make at home.

The book covers vegetable ferments such as sauerkraut, kimchi, and sour pickles; bean ferments including miso, tempeh, dosas, and idli; dairy ferments including yogurt, kefir, and basic cheesemaking (as well as vegan alternatives); sourdough bread-making; other grain fermentations from Cherokee, African, Japanese, and Russian traditions; extremely simple wine- and beer-making (as well as cider-, mead-, and champagne-making) techniques; and vinegar-making. With nearly 100 recipes, this is the most comprehensive and wide-ranging fermentation cookbook ever published.

Fermentation Workshop with Sandor Katz

Thousands of readers consider Sandor Ellix Katz's Wild Fermentation to be their guidepost for exploring and making fermented foods. Now, in this new DVD, Katz offers fermentation beginners and enthusiasts a chance to "sit in" on one of his popular workshops and learn through hands-on demonstration and instruction, accompanied by an interview on the benefits of fermentation, and social implications as it relates to food security.Contrary to popular belief, fermenting foods is a simple process. But it needs to be done correctly, and there's no better person to inform us about managing microbial bacteria to produce highly nutritious food. In fact, with Sandor Ellix Katz as their guide, viewers will find fermentation is much more than just a way of preserving food: it's a method of self-sufficiency, a crucial historical component to all agricultural movements, and utterly delicious.This intimate workshop and interview will prove invaluable both for total beginners and longtime fermentation lovers. The DVD includes:

  • The history of fermentation and culturing
  • Information about microorganisms and pre-digestion
  • Demonstrations on making kefir and sauerkraut
  • Tips on fermentation vessels and storage
  • The truth about food safety (botulism, surface mold, and other fears de-mystified)

And more...Complete with cultural commentary, practical preparation guidance (including recipes), and a demonstration for just-right sauerkraut-and featuring an extended interview with Katz-this video is perfect for food-lovers of any kind.

Available in: Mixed media product

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Wild Fermentation & Fermentation Workshop with Sandor Ellix Katz (Book & DVD Bundle)

Sandor Ellix Katz

Mixed media product $49.95