DUCKWORTH: I didn’t know my true self until this very conversation.
* * *
DUCKWORTH: I’m Angela Duckworth.
DUBNER: I’m Stephen Dubner.
DUCKWORTH + DUBNER: And you’re listening to No Stupid Questions.
Today on the show: We have cow milk and goat milk. Why not pig milk?
DUBNER: They’re smart, skittish, suspicious and paranoid.
DUCKWORTH: That sounds like a good description of a University of Chicago economist.
Also: What’s a food that seems gross to most people but you find delicious?
DUBNER: I think a lot of the foods that I like are disgusting to many people.
* * *
DUCKWORTH: Stephen, we have an email that is about a really interesting question. I’m going to read it to you.
DUCKWORTH: “Hi, guys. This might imperil your No Stupid Questions theory, but: why don’t humans drink pig milk, or consume pig-milk products? Is that too stupid a question?” The email goes on: “Camels, cows, goats, yak, moose, sheep, buffalo, reindeer — wherever a sizable mammal has been domesticated for food, it seems that some group of humans has incorporated its dairy into their diet. Why not pigs? We’ve got heaps of them. Why is nobody milking them? Curiously Yours,” and then I can’t tell you the name, because the “P.S.” says: “I would like to remain anonymous for purposes of embarrassment.”
DUBNER: Dear Anonymous-Because-of-Potential-Embarrassment, I don’t think that’s at all a stupid question. I mean, this may say more about me than about this anonymous listener. I like this question, because it’s taking something that most people probably have never noticed or thought about. And that’s a good way of living life. I really like this kind of curiosity.
DUCKWORTH: Why don’t we refer to this listener for the rest of this conversation as “Perplexed About Pigs”? Remember how Ann Landers and Dear Abby would have, you know, “Cheating in Kansas,” or something?
DUBNER: So, dear Perplexed, first of all, we should note that the drinking of animal milk is a relatively recent chapter in the tale of human history. I’m reading here from a BBC piece by one Michael Marshall: “Set against the 300,000-year history of our species” — Homo sapiens, that is — “drinking milk is a new habit. Before about 10,000 years ago or so, hardly anybody drank milk, and only then on rare occasions. The first people who drank milk regularly were early farmers and pastoralists in Western Europe, some of the first humans to live with domesticated animals including cows.” So that suggests that milk was a convenient byproduct of the cows being raised for the meat. By the way, Perplexed talked about reindeer milk. I’ve not heard of that, have you?
DUCKWORTH: Wait, are reindeer real? I thought they were like Sasquatch.
DUBNER: You thought they were only in The Grinch That Stole Christmas?
DUCKWORTH: Yes, exactly! That’s my primary acquaintance with reindeer.
DUBNER: I’m so glad that other people have a reality/fantasy confusion. I used to really get confused about dragons, and a little bit about unicorns. Because dinosaurs are real! Does not a dragon seem just like a slightly steroidal version of some of the dinosaurs?
DUCKWORTH: Yeah. Just, like, a souped-up version of a dinosaur.
DUBNER: Right. So, I think there are reindeers in life? I guess.
DUCKWORTH: I don’t know.
DUCKWORTH: Well, see? There you go.
DUBNER: Why would Rudolph have such a realistic name if it were not a real animal? So, anyway, milk consumption is a relatively recent thing. We should also say, there are huge variations in what we call “dairy consumption” around the world. I think Sweden and Iceland are the two places where people drink the most milk per day.
DUCKWORTH: Oh, interesting. That somehow doesn’t shock me. They just seem like they would be milk-drinkers.
DUBNER: Now, let me ask you this: Where would you say that the U.S. ranks among the 200-and-some countries in the world, in terms of milk consumption?
DUCKWORTH: I’m going to go with 10.
DUBNER: I would have gone with that too. It’s 67th in the world.
DUCKWORTH: Ooh. Pretty far down the list.
DUBNER: Here are some countries that drink a lot of milk: Costa Rica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Finland, Sri Lanka. But then there are many places where almost no milk is drunk.
DUCKWORTH: I was going to go with the Asian countries at the bottom, being that those are my kin.
DUBNER: I think that’s true. And there are huge biological differences in our tolerance for lactose once we are no longer babies, when, of course, many people do drink mother’s milk.
DUCKWORTH: Right. I think the idea is that there’s an enzyme, lactase, that breaks down lactose into something digestible. And I think, also, to further complicate matters, it’s partly your body responding to the fact that you are ingesting lactose that creates the lactase. So if you stop drinking milk, then you can become more lactose intolerant. And your lactose intolerance can go up and down even in your own lifetime.
DUBNER: Right. Right. So, how many kinds of, quote, “milk” are there in your home at any given time, and who drinks which of them?
DUCKWORTH: We only have cow milk products of various butterfat ratios. So, we have half-and-half for our morning coffee, and then there’s always a half-gallon of, usually, two-percent milk — or, if two-percent is sold out, then some other-percent milk.
DUBNER: So, no oat, no almond, no cashew?
DUCKWORTH: We have toyed with all of those options — except for cashew. But I have to say: I find oat milk horrible. I like soy milk in my lattes. I find that a disturbingly small proportion of cafés actually carry soy milk for some reason.
DUBNER: So, you and I have different preferences here. I like oat milk, and I find soy and almond milk both undrinkable.
DUBNER: I do.
DUCKWORTH: That’s going to create a big rift.
DUBNER: It’s also very hard to “milk a soy,” I’ve found.
DUCKWORTH: I’m sure it’s hard to milk an oat.
DUBNER: So, when I grew up, we had one cow for a while, but by the time I was maybe 12, we no longer had a cow. But we would always get our milk locally, from another farmer nearby. We would go over there every week, or 10 days or so, and we’d use these big, industrial-sized mayonnaise jars — like, a gallon mayonnaise jar that the diner or the grocery store would give you. And we’d draw it from the big vat, and it was, I think even then, illegal for the farmers to sell what they call “raw milk.” Yeah, yeah. But we bought it. Or maybe it was a barter. Maybe we brought some tomatoes or corn or something for that farmer. And you put it in the fridge, and then the cream would rise to the top, and Mom would skim the cream. That’s what she would use to make the ice cream and the butter and the whipped cream.
DUCKWORTH: Oh my God, that sounds delicious.
DUBNER: And then, even when you drank the milk without the cream, it was still so —what’s the word? Strong.
DUCKWORTH: Did it taste like grass or something?
DUBNER: I don’t know. But when I went off the farm and drank commercial milk, I thought, “Wait, this isn’t milk. This tastes like a very, very, very pale imitation of milk.” So I grew up with a very strong version of cow milk. And I have to say, when I go somewhere now and they have that straight-from-the-cow milk and I drink it, it is overwhelmingly strong. So I think that our tastes adjust.
DUCKWORTH: Is it legal to drink it anywhere now, like, unpasteurized?
DUBNER: I think it may be legal to drink it, but not to sell it or to buy it?
DUCKWORTH: Like marijuana or something.
DUBNER: No, I think marijuana is a lot more legal than raw milk. Now, getting back to Perplexed’s point: it is true that people in various countries drink the milk of the camel, the yak, the water buffalo — I’m reading here from a Slate article by Benjamin Phelan — the reindeer (there it is!), the elk, the horse (some people drink fermented horse milk) and a few other animals. All of these animals, except for the horse, those are all ruminants, which, you know, I don’t know exactly what ruminant is. They ruminate a lot. They’re very emotionally perplexing.
DUCKWORTH: Kind of melancholy.
DUBNER: But they have these four-chambered stomachs, you know, they produce a lot of milk. But anyway, different animals’ milks have different properties. You talk to anyone who makes cheese, or even eats cheese, and you know that there’s some people who favor the sheep milk, and some the goat milk, and some the cow milk. Cow milk is, apparently, quite similar to human milk, so the taste is familiar. So, after all that preamble, I think Perplexed is right to ask: Why not pigs’ milk? Do you know how many pigs there are in the world, Angela?
DUCKWORTH: Wait, this is like a McKinsey question. When I was in an interview for McKinsey, it was like, “How many tennis balls are manufactured every year?” And you had to show your analytics skills. So, can I try this?
DUBNER: Yeah, I’d love it.
DUCKWORTH: How many pigs are there in the world?
DUBNER: At any given time, considering that some of them have just become bacon.
DUCKWORTH: Let’s assume that the, you know, bacon on the shelf doesn’t count as a pig. I’m going to guess — because pigs are primarily domesticated animals — that we can start with the fact that there are, what, roughly seven billion people? So then I would say, how many pigs are there per person? And without going through too much math about how much the average person consumes pig — I’m just going to go with one-to-one. So, I’m going to guess that there are seven billion pigs.
DUBNER: Wow. I loved your reckoning. You were off by almost exactly an order of magnitude.
DUCKWORTH: Wait, I don’t even know which way.
DUBNER: Well, look at it this way: how many people could one pig feed?
DUCKWORTH: Oh, a lot.
DUBNER: Pigs are big!
DUCKWORTH: Yeah, that’s true. Wait, so are there 700 million pigs?
DUBNER: I’m seeing a number here for 670 million pigs at any given time. But still, that’s a lot of pigs. And presumably, a significant share of these pigs are female. That’s potentially a lot of pig milk. So why is there no pig-milk cheese? Well, the same Benjamin Phelan who wrote the article in Slate that I mentioned, he was curious about this, as was our Perplexed. And he tracked down a chef who’s trying to make pig cheese. His name is Edward Lee. And here’s what Edward Lee says: “Anyone who farms pigs would say that pigs’ milk would make an incredible cheese. The problem is that it’s nearly impossible to milk pigs. When sows are lactating, they get very aggressive. They’re not docile like cows. They’re smart, skittish, suspicious and paranoid. They do not like you getting up in their business.”
DUCKWORTH: That sounds like a good description of a University of Chicago economist.
DUBNER: Skittish, suspicious, paranoid and they don’t like you getting up in their business.
DUCKWORTH: And smart!
DUBNER: And smart, right. Now, there’s a pig farmer who once told the New York food writer Robert Sietsema — this was published in The Village Voice — that pig milk is a little more watery than most milk, and that it’s gamey. I will say, in the Netherlands, there is a family farm called Piggy’s Palace, and they produced a block of cheese made from pig’s milk. This was in 2015. And someone paid, it says here, $2,300 a kilogram at an auction— so, that’s really expensive cheese. The money was being donated to a children’s cancer charity. And the cheese itself, when eaten, was described as “chalky and a bit salty.”
DUCKWORTH: So, you definitely overpaid.
DUBNER: For a good cause, though. I guess the other answer to Perplexed would be, do we really need another animal product if you can get a close facsimile from all the plant-based milk replacement?
DUCKWORTH: I think the pigs would lobby against us branching out into pig milk. One could argue from an environmental perspective, that some of these plant-based milks are better for the environment.
DUBNER: So, there are a lot of compelling arguments against pig milk. But, you know, I think it’s worth thinking about other non-bacon uses of pig — including medical uses. Pigs have been used for things like skin grafts for humans. And I know there was talk a while back of pig organs being used for transplantation, things like kidneys, where we need a lot more. I believe pig heart valves have been used. And I know that there was one fairly narrow thread of the pig heart valve argument, which was: would a heart valve from a pig be considered kosher — acceptable — for an Orthodox Jewish or a Muslim patient? Because the consumption of pig is forbidden.
DUCKWORTH: What was the resolution of that?
DUBNER: So, you might think that Jews, or others, might be prohibited from getting what are called xenotransplants because of Biblical prohibition against pigs. But within Judaism, this would fall under what’s called “Pikuach Nefesh,” which is the notion of saving a life. And, Jewish law says that you can basically do anything — except, maybe, kill another person — if you’re going to save a life. That’s how strong the notion of saving a life is. And so that means that, even if the use of pig parts is not kosher, or legal, according to Jewish law, that when someone’s life is at stake, you are actually not only not forbidden, but commanded to do what’s necessary to save them. So, that’s a nice thing to know.
DUCKWORTH: That’s exactly what Barry Schwartz, psychologist, also a philosopher, would say about this very question. Is it okay to lie? Is it okay to break Kosher law? It depends. And it depends on whether there’s a higher virtue that you’re trying to pursue.
DUBNER: Do you ever watch the show Grey’s Anatomy?
DUCKWORTH: I never watch the show Grey’s Anatomy. Is it still on?
DUBNER: I have no idea. I’ve heard of it. I never saw it either. But I do know that there was a storyline with a plot like this, which was: an Orthodox Jewish girl needed to have a transplant from a pig part. And the show presented the facts as if that could not happen because she was Jewish. And when the episode aired, I believe there was a lot of pushback from the Orthodox Jewish community saying, “No, no, no, this is wrong, and this is silly, and this is stupid,” in that the Halakha — the Jewish law — actually says: if it’s in service of saving someone’s life, then you can use all the pig you need to.
DUCKWORTH: I hope the Orthodox community got that word out. Like, seriously. Because they wouldn’t want people to believe that and then not go and get medical care when they needed to.
DUBNER: Right. So, did anything we’ve talked about make you more curious to have some pig milk?
DUCKWORTH: I would definitely drink pig milk if it were offered. I wouldn’t buy it at an auction.
DUBNER: So, I would say to Perplexed, it seems that there are a lot of good reasons to not drink pig milk. But I do think it’s such a good instinct that Perplexed exercised, to constantly ask ourselves why we don’t do the things we don’t do, and why we do the things we do. Because, you know, that’s progress! Progress may not include a massive change in our pig milk consumption, but it will include other things that are nearly unthinkable, or at least unthought-of by the vast majority of people. And that instinct, dear Perplexed, I believe, is worth saluting. So, I salute you.
DUCKWORTH: Yeah, Perplexed asked a very un-stupid question. And from that sow’s ear, I think we made a purse.
Still to come on No Stupid Questions: Stephen and Angela share their experiences eating insects, intestines, and several other atypical delicacies.
DUBNER: I could not stop eating those delicious candied crickets.
* * *
DUBNER: So, Angela, I have a brief follow-up question for you from our earlier pig-milk conversation, which I enjoyed thoroughly. So, here’s the question. What, Angela, would you say is a food that seems gross or disgusting to most people, but you think we should all try?
DUCKWORTH: Such an interesting question. Let me try to answer directly, but then I have a meta-answer.
DUBNER: You can give the meta first, if you want. I sense an instinct to do so.
DUCKWORTH: Okay. Look, there’s a category of food that is disgusting probably for evolutionary reasons. Like, they have toxins and, therefore, we all think it’s disgusting.
DUBNER: Or, like, that cheese with maggots in it — that some people love.
DUCKWORTH: Is there a cheese with maggots in it?
DUBNER: Yeah. At least one.
DUCKWORTH: No. Live maggots? Or dead maggots?
DUBNER: Um, I don’t know if they’re live.
DUCKWORTH: Hey. Guess what? They’re both gross. I don’t even know why I asked that question. I don’t want to eat cheese with maggots in it. I think there’s just some things that we have a visceral reaction to. Like, nobody wanted to eat vomit.
DUBNER: My dog might have.
DUCKWORTH: Yet another reason I don’t want to get a dog. But then there’s food like natto. You know, the Japanese fermented soybean thing. It’s really stringy. And it does look like maggots, by the way. I tried it, and I was like, “This is truly awful.”
DUBNER: Oh, so that’s not your recommendation for the gross food that people should try.
DUCKWORTH: I’m thinking of all the ones where it’s just a limitation of my open-mindedness. Durian fruit, I also haven’t even mustered the courage to try — despite this being part of my cultural heritage.
DUBNER: But durian, we should say: the smell and the taste are really different.
DUCKWORTH: Which is so perplexing, because durian is supposed to taste like the most beautiful, fragrant, lovely fruit in the world, and it’s smelling like poo. Right?
DUBNER: Kind of garbage-poo. Garbage-puke poo.
DUCKWORTH: But aren’t smell and taste so intertwined? How is that possible?
DUBNER: Well, have you ever drunk vanilla extract from the bottle?
DUCKWORTH: Oh, it’s really bitter and terrible. But that I can kind of understand, because it’s the bitter note that makes the sweet things, like chocolate-chip cookies, taste better. But anyway, I’m just wondering if there’s a good answer to that question. I don’t have strong views of something that I personally like.
DUBNER: There’s nothing that you love to eat that you think many other people would judge as disgusting?
DUCKWORTH: I eat eel, but that’s on most sushi platters. It’s usually in that tasty little sweet sauce, and it’s broiled.
DUBNER: The sauce is what you’re after.
DUCKWORTH: I know. The eel is just a fatty vehicle for the teriyaki sauce, or whatever it is that goes on top. But I can’t think of anything that I eat that most people think is disgusting. What’s your answer to that?
DUBNER: I think a lot of the foods that I like are disgusting to many people.
DUCKWORTH: Like what?
DUBNER: I love chopped liver. I love chopped herring. I guess I eat a lot of foods that are so gross that they can only be eaten if chopped up, essentially. Gefilte fish, also chopped.
DUCKWORTH: These are all the foods of your Jewish heritage.
DUBNER: It’s the standard Ashkenazic menu. My dad used to love tongue. I did not inherit that taste. Just to give the background: My parents were both Jewish, but before they met each other, they’d both converted to Catholicism, which is unusual.
DUCKWORTH: Very statistically unlikely.
DUBNER: Two needles in a big haystack finding each other. But anyway, my family became very Catholic until, many years later, I returned and became Jewish. But my dad shed most of his Jewish background, except for a few things and some of those were food. So, in the pantry, in our farmhouse in upstate New York, where we were very, very Catholic, he would keep a jar of that really thickly-jellied Manischewitz gefilte fish, which is, I would say, maybe the world’s worst gefilte fish.
DUCKWORTH: It is? That’s the only gefilte fish I’ve had, Stephen.
DUBNER: Well, okay, this is what we in our family call “the gefilte tragedy,” because good gefilte fish is wonderful. But it’s got to be made by loving hands and not by a machine, that’s then put in a jar with sweet jelly.
DUCKWORTH: I like that gefilte fish!
DUBNER: Oh. Okay. Power to you.
DUCKWORTH: I was, like, the only one at the bar mitzvah celebration that would be eating the gefilte fish. I’d be like, “This is great. It’s like a little fish dumpling.”
DUBNER: Okay, so I think you just came up with your answer, which is:
DUCKWORTH: Manischewitz gefilte fish.
DUBNER: That kind of gefilte fish does seem disgusting to a lot of people, but not to you.
DUCKWORTH: I didn’t know my true self until this very conversation. Sure, I’ll go on record saying that everybody in the world should have an open-er mind about gefilte fish in general, and Manischewitz gefilte fish for you gefilte fish snobs.
DUBNER: But let me say this: Of all these chopped, fishy, Ashkenazic foods I do like, I’m not going to say that everyone should try all those.
DUCKWORTH: This is not, like, the Kantian imperative that you would will it for all.
DUBNER: Exactly. The Kantian imperative, for me, for a potentially disgusting food, would be anchovy paste.
DUCKWORTH: That is such a good answer. Yes! The kind that comes out of this little tube, and you put it in, and everything tastes—
DUBNER: Ugh! Better.
DUBNER: It’s umami in a little toothpaste-style tube.
DUCKWORTH: Actually the best kind of umami there is.
DUBNER: And again, I guess it is very consistent with my earlier choices that it is chopped-up fish — in this case, little anchovies.
DUCKWORTH: You think people think this is gross, though? That was the part I was struggling with.
DUBNER: Maybe here’s the gross part: When I open the tube of anchovy paste to cook with it — which I do very often, because I use it in a lot of things — I will sometimes suck a little straight out of the tube, because I love it.
DUCKWORTH: That is disgusting. Okay, well, if you want to be that specific, then, yeah, I don’t think most people would do that. Let’s get people started where they need to be started, Stephen. I think they should put it in their salad dressing. And maybe if you’re making a pasta sauce. And then you could mainline it, like you do.
DUBNER: Now, Angela, our producer and fact-checker and friend, Rebecca, I believe, reached out to listeners to ask them their advice on disgusting foods that people should try. Rebecca, is that right? Are you there on the line?
REBECCA DOUGLAS: Yes, I did! Hi, guys. I’m joining you now.
DUCKWORTH: I want to know what other people thought. They probably had better answers than I did.
DOUGLAS: So, we reached out to listeners on Twitter, and we had a lot of different types of responses. Offal was a common response. You know, the internal organs of an animal.
DUCKWORTH: Oh, “offal,” O-F-F-A-L.
DUBNER: Offal is awful, yeah.
DOUGLAS: @pepemac27 said: “turkey testicles, chicken hearts, chinchulines” — which are intestines. And @r_setton said: “brain.” I’m not a fan of any of those.
DUBNER: Angela, are you a fan of any of those? Brain, intestine, testicles?
DUCKWORTH: Have you ever had intestine? It tastes like rubber bands. You chew, and chew, and chew, and nothing seems to be getting chewed.
DUBNER: I will say: I have tried a lot of allegedly disgusting things. Just because I’m curious. Including, in Boston’s Chinatown, I once had a big bowl full of duck tongue.
DOUGLAS: Oh my goodness.
DUCKWORTH: They’re not that good. I’ve had that, too. They’re, like, really thin, as you’d imagine they were, to fit in the beak.
DUBNER: I’m not going to do that again, I hate to say. Now, Rebecca, I’m curious: did anyone mention insects as a disgusting food that they like?
DOUGLAS: Yeah, we had somebody who mentioned grasshoppers, which I know you’ve had in the past, Stephen, is that correct?
DUBNER: They are delicious! And crickets, if prepared well. Angela, how do you feel about that?
DUCKWORTH: I went on vacation to Japan with Jason, and on the set meal — you know, it’s one of those places where the chef just makes whatever they’re going to make. And there was a little bowl of candied crickets. And I could not. I could not.
DUBNER: Oh, I thought you were going to say, “I could not stop eating those delicious candied crickets,” no?
DUCKWORTH: No. And then Jason ate them, and I think I made him eat mine too, because I didn’t want to be rude. And then he chased me all around the room, trying to kiss me. It was very juvenile.
DOUGLAS: Well, this listener says that they go very well with tortillas and salsa and melted cheese.
DUCKWORTH: You know what? That just tells you that, like, everything goes well with a— You know, melt some cheese on it? Like, sure!
DOUGLAS: I do have to share that this one listener @TSelbie said that she had cooked tarantula in Cambodia and it, “Wasn’t too shabby.” I don’t know if that counts as an insect though.
DUBNER: I think it’s an arachnid, probably. It’s got two extra legs. But if you like the legs, that’s even better! All right. So, Angela, in the spirit of this question about foods that seem gross to most people but we should try: I want to take you to the same restaurant in New York where I took your colleague, Paul Rozin, who writes about disgust, to a Mexican restaurant in the East Village that serves a lot of different insects, prepared in many different ways: ants, crickets, grasshoppers. And you will so love them, I promise you, that you will just start walking around in your daily life looking for insects to grab and cook.
DUCKWORTH: Well, look: I have had many meals with Paul Rozin, and I have had many conversations with Paul Rozin about the eating of insects. And none of this convinces me that we should go out to eat and eat insects together.
DUBNER: The subtext of what you just said is: If I didn’t eat insects with Paul Rozin, why would I eat insects with you? That’s what you’re saying.
DUCKWORTH: That was exactly it.
DUBNER: Okay, thanks, friend.
DUCKWORTH: You’re welcome.
* * *
No Stupid Questions is part of the Freakonomics Radio Network, which also includes Freakonomics Radio, People I (Mostly) Admire, and Freakonomics, M.D. This episode was produced by me, Rebecca Lee Douglas. And now here is a fact-check of today’s conversations.
In the first half of the episode, Angela doubts whether reindeer are real. Reindeer, also known as caribou, are, in fact, real animals — they can be found in the Arctic tundra, as well as the forests of Greenland, Scandinavia, Russia, Alaska and Canada.
Later, Stephen says that there are 200-and-some countries in the world. However, the United States officially recognizes just 195 countries — the 193 members of the United Nations, plus the Holy See and the Republic of Kosovo. Places like Taiwan and Palestine are recognized by other countries, but not by the U.N. or the U.S.
Stephen also wonders about the definition of a ruminant. While someone who ruminates tends to spend a lot of time thinking deeply or worrying about something, a ruminant is an animal with a four-chambered stomach and two-toed feet.
Next, Stephen and Angela wonder if the popular television show Grey’s Anatomy is still on the air. In May 2021, fans of the series were thrilled to learn the show was renewed for an 18th season, which may seem like a long time, but their run pales in comparison to shows like General Hospital (which has been on for 58 years) and Coronation Street (which has been on for 61 years)!
Also, Stephen says that marijuna is more legal than raw milk. It’s actually sort of comparable. Currently, recreational use of marijuana is fully legal in 18 states and decriminalized in 12 others. The retail sale of raw milk is legal in 13 states and limited legal sale is available in 17 others.
Finally, Stephen and Angela wonder whether casu marzu, a maggot-infested cheese, is served with the insects alive or dead. The Sardinian delicacy is made when cheese skipper flies lay their eggs in cracks that form in the cheese. The maggots hatch and digest the product, turning it soft and creamy. Certain locals choose to eat the cheese with the live maggots. Other mongers spin it in a centrifuge to merge the maggots and the cheese together. The product is currently banned from commercial use, even though Sardinians have been enjoying it for centuries.
That’s it for the fact-check.
* * *
No Stupid Questions is produced by Freakonomics Radio and Stitcher; our staff includes Alison Craiglow, Greg Rippin, Eleanor Osborne, Joel Meyer, Tricia Bobeda, Emma Tyrell, Lyric Bowdich and Jacob Clemente. Our theme song is “And She Was” by Talking Heads — special thanks to David Byrne and Warner Chappell Music. If you’d like to listen to the show ad-free, subscribe to Stitcher Premium. You can also follow us on Twitter at NSQ_Show and on Facebook @NSQShow. If you have a question for a future episode, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you heard Stephen or Angela reference a study, an expert or a book that you’d like to learn more about, you can check out Freakonomics.com/NSQ, where we link to all of the major references that you heard about here today. Thanks for listening!
DUCKWORTH: Have you ever read Click, Clack, Moo?
DUBNER: I haven’t. Is that a children’s book or an academic journal?
- “Why Humans Have Evolved to Drink Milk,” by Michael Marshall (B.B.C., 2019).
- “On the Evolution of Lactase Persistence in Humans,” by Laure Ségurel and Céline Bon (Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics, 2017).
- “What People Around the World Drink When They Aren’t Drinking Water,” by Roberto A. Ferdman (The Washington Post, 2018).
- “Global, Regional, and National Consumption of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages, Fruit Juices, and Milk: A Systematic Assessment of Beverage Intake in 187 Countries,” by Gitanjali M. Singh, Renata Micha, Shahab Khatibzadeh, Peilin Shi, Stephen Lim, Kathryn G. Andrews, Rebecca E. Engell, Majid Ezzati, Dariush Mozaffarian, and the Global Burden of Diseases Nutrition and Chronic Diseases Expert Group (PLOS One, 2015).
- “Others’ Milk,” by Benjamin Phelan (Slate, 2012).
- “Why Not Pig Milk?” by Robert Sietsema (The Village Voice, 2011).