The Life of Cheese (Paperback)

Crafting Food and Value in America (California Studies in Food and Culture #41)

By Heather Paxson

University of California Press, 9780520270183, 332pp.

Publication Date: December 10, 2012

Other Editions of This Title:
Hardcover (12/10/2012)

List Price: 34.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


Cheese is alive, and alive with meaning. Heather Paxson’s beautifully written anthropological study of American artisanal cheesemaking tells the story of how craftwork has become a new source of cultural and economic value for producers as well as consumers. Dairy farmers and artisans inhabit a world in which their colleagues and collaborators are a wild cast of characters, including plants, animals, microorganisms, family members, employees, and customers. As “unfinished” commodities, living products whose qualities are not fully settled, handmade cheeses embody a mix of new and old ideas about taste and value. By exploring the life of cheese, Paxson helps rethink the politics of food, land, and labor today.

About the Author

Heather Paxson, Associate Professor of Anthropology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, author of Making Modern Mothers: Ethics and Family Planning in Urban Greece (UC Press).

Praise For The Life of Cheese: Crafting Food and Value in America (California Studies in Food and Culture #41)

“[The Life of Cheese] offers a unique glimpse of people who have taken food-making into their own hands. “

— Mit-Ejmes

“The Life of Cheese is one way to better understand that food is never just a thing to put in your mouth.”

— Scientific American

“Both scholarly and accessible, the book profiles people who make cheese and delves into the science, art, politics, and culture, as it were, of these artisan products.”

— Boston Globe Book Section

“A first rate read in understanding how and where our food comes from, and the artisanal life.”

— Gothic Epicures Writing

“For those who are true cheese aficionados and fascinated by its culture, this is the book for you.”

— Aron Row