Where does cheese come from? The answer is milk.
Some people think cheese only comes from cow’s milk. The reality is that there is a heck of a lot of cheese made from other ruminants. In fact, the best cheese comes from ruminants.
You ask – What the heck is a ruminant?
A ruminant has a four compartment stomach which is capable of efficiently digesting grass and fiber. Ruminants can subsist by grazing. Cows, sheep and goats are ruminants.
When a ruminant has finished eating, the food is brought back up and rechewed. This is called chewing the cud or rumination. Ruminants make a lot of gas in their stomachs and belch about once every minute. If the belching stops the stomach swells with gas.
A non-ruminant mammal has a single chamber stomach and are called monogastrics. Examples of non-ruminants are humans, dogs, cats and pigs. Non-ruminants do NOT make good cheese.
There are about 150 species of ruminant. The population of domestic ruminants is greater than 3.5 billion, with cattle, sheep, and goats accounting for about 95% of the total population. I guess that’s why 95% of cheese is cow, sheep or goat.
Canada has 13,945,000 cattle. No I didn’t count them. That statistic comes from wikipedia. Canada has the 9th highest cattle population in the world. Canada is also ranked in the top ten countries of consumers of cow’s milk and cow’s milk products per capita (2006).
Stats Canada estimated that there were 825,300 sheep and lambs on farms in Canada as of January 1, 2008. While less than 2% of the world’s milk output comes from sheep, its composition makes it more nutritious than cow’s milk, and easier to digest.
In 2001, Statistics Canada reported the Canadian goat population at 182,151. That was a 45% increase since 1996 in goat population. Goats produce approximately 2% of the world’s total annual milk supply.
Water buffalo, Reindeer, yaks, and even camels are other ruminants that provide milk for cheese in some regions of the world.
So there you have it. It is probably more than you wanted to know about ruminants but it does help explain why pig cheese is so unpopular.