Friday, September 26, 2008

Ice Cream made from Breast Milk

Have you hear of PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals) requesting Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to substitute breast milk for cow’s milk? Here is their press release:

“Burlington, Vt. - This morning, PETA dispatched a letter to Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, cofounders of ice cream icon Ben & Jerry's Homemade Inc., urging them to replace the cow's milk in their products with human breast milk. PETA's request comes in the wake of news reports that a Swiss restaurant owner will begin purchasing breast milk from nursing mothers and substituting breast milk for 75 percent of the cow's milk in the food he serves. PETA points out to Cohen and Greenfield that such a move on their part would lessen the suffering of dairy cows and their babies on factory farms and benefit human health at the same time.

"The fact that human adults consume huge quantities of dairy products made from milk that was meant for a baby cow just doesn't make sense," says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. "Everyone knows that 'the breast is best,' so Ben & Jerry's could do consumers and cows a big favor by making the switch to breast milk."”

So my question, are we going to start having women farms instead of cow farms? Are we going to regulate the diet of those women like we do the cattle?

I don’t mean to make light of something that clearly is important to many, many people, but does this seem ridiculous to anyone else? I mean let’s consider this ad absurdum. Do we keep women lactating for long periods of time to get enough milk to make all this ice cream? What women do you think are going to take this position? The women with college degrees? Or the lower socio-economic women? If women are making money for their milk are they more likely to nurse their babies or sell their milk? And a totally absurd question, if we no longer drink cow milk or eat cow meat, why will farmers continue to maintain cows? Since cows aren’t wild animals, what would happen to the species?

The letter that PETA sent to Ben & Jerry’s sites a Swiss restaurateur who is replacing 75% of their milk products with breast milk. Of course my parents’ admonition comes to mind, “If your best friend jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you?” So in a parental tone, “PETA, if your Swiss friend chooses to drink someone else’s breast milk, would you?” I’m not even going to bother to send a message to Ben & Jerry’s because I’m guessing they just had a really good laugh.

PS I think a better use of excess breast milk is for feeding premature infants, for helping mother's that cannot lactate but would like to breast feed, or figuring out how we can package it and get it to malnourished, starving children around the world.

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