Late last year, Zoe Stavri became something of an internet legend. One morning she decided to scrape the yeast from an infection off her dildo and use it to bake sourdough bread. Once the flour, water and yeast baked itself into beautiful loaves, she ate it. Cunt bread will go down in Twitter folklore, probably.
She was not the first to use vagina ~ stuff ~ to make food. There was Toi Sennhauser, whose art project "Mama's Natural Breakfast" was a table offering homemade vag bread served with butter and honey showing women and bread to be one, a truly lifegiving force. Cecilia Westbrook, a PhD student at the University of Wisconsin, made yoghurt with vaginal secretions. What could be healthier, she thought, than taking the healthy bacteria down there and culturing more of it to ingest later? Exactly the same logic as eating probiotic yoghurt.
Now, a man from Warsaw has co-opted this small-scale women-led women-brewed idea and wants to bring a vag product to the masses: to farm women's bacteria to make a beer for men. You can imagine the moment of this idea's creation. What do men like? Beer. What else? Pussy? If only there was a way to bring those two things together beyond the simple lure of an ad campaign. If only there was a way to get the pussy the beer. And here it is: a funding campaign for the first vaginal beer.
"Imagine a woman of your dreams, your object of desire," tempts the man on the campaign video. "Her charm, her sensuality, her passion. Try her taste, feel her smell, hear her voice. Now free your fantasies and imagine that with a magic wand you can close it in one bottle of beer." Presumably he means close the deal and sleep with her. Except he doesn't. He means drink a vagina-y brew.
It gets stranger. "We have discovered a process of transmission of her essence, her femininity, her instincts," he exclaims, "by isolation of lactic acid bacteria from her vagina". Yes, The Order of Yoni – sanskrit for vagina – have managed to find the secret of a woman's charm and personality, the very essence of which has just been in her fanny all along.
Whether it's a sexist mess or just one massive joke, it's still an interesting concept. Can you even mass-produce vagina beer? Is it a viable project – and indeed, could we be using yeast and lactic acid from vaginas to substitute the organisms currently used in bread, yoghurt, cheese and a whole range of produce in the future? Will women and food be one, with Toi Sennhauser's beautiful vision realised?
Professor Martin Adams, a microbiologist and expert on lactic acid bacteria and fermented foods was the man to ask. He explained that the lactic acid and yeast used in our everyday foods are almost always not of human origin. However, that's not to say that using vagina stuff for food is gross, so you can get rid of that idea. According to Adams, probiotic yoghurts and drinks include organisms that have been isolated from the gut originally – usually from faeces. If you've ever knocked back a Yakult, just remember that when you're making a sour face at vagina beer.
Far from having to harvest the yeast organically from all those vaginas, like a million women tapped up to milking machines like cows, all you'd need is a petri dish. "What these food manufacturers would do in all these cases is they would take a sample from the site – the vagina – and then grow those organisms in the lab. You'd have them as separate colonies and put them on petri dishes and take them off with a sterile loop and they'd be put it in a liquid. After purifying the culture, you can grow very large numbers if they wanted to," he says. In theory you could introduce these vag cultures everywhere.
But is it really the best way to make certain produce? The stuff made in and on your body isn't necessarily exactly the right stuff to use. "The organisms used to make these products are carefully selected to give you the optimum characteristics and optimum performance, so if you tried making fermented milk with bacteria isolated from the vagina or from the gut, they're not the best suited to do that," explains Adams. "In yoghurts, for example, you want the right sugars to produce the flavour compounds and so on. And also on a mass scale you want to make things quickly and efficiently. They might literally be able to make the product, but not as well because it's not what they're supposed to do. Basically, there's no reason to do it, except for a gimmick."
In some cases, Adams thinks human organisms wouldn't work any way and you'd have to use them along with the original organisms for a gimmick product. "It's likely the vagina organism would just sit there and survive or maybe contribute a little bit, but otherwise leave the natural organism to do the work."
Much of what we love about staple foods like bread and beer come from the very specific taste we've come to associate with them, Adams says. "The original organisms in the production of beer and yoghurt and cheese and so on go back years and years, and in the case of breweries, they claim that their particular yeast gives their particular brewery a certain taste or characteristics. They go back in the mists of time before anyone knew anything about microbiology, really." Why fuck with the good stuff, basically? Leave beer alone.
But cunt sourdough? "That would be a real possibility," muses Adams. Sourdough is a very simple recipe, traditionally only using flour, water and air for fermentation. Yeast has been a later addition, if at all, to speed up the lengthy process. Stavri might have been onto something.
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