Two news items caught my eye this week — the two articles were at opposite ends of the spectrum concerning breast milk and if it’s gross or fantastic.
The first article was about a woman who was sprayed down with air freshener after a manager in a store “caught” her breastfeeding her child. He told her that her breast milk “stinks”. You can read that article here:
After reading the article, I was appalled at many things: the way it was handled, the peeping tom air to it, and the assumption on the part of the man that breast milk stinks or is in some other way disgusting. I wondered if he had been breastfed, or if he had ever been exposed to the idea that breastfeeding a child is the normal way to nourish and feed a baby. Regardless of his motivations, it is clear he has a prejudice against breast milk being normal, healthy, and nourishing.
The second article made me smile and filled me with happiness. A chef from New York used some of his wife’s breast milk to create cheese. There are photos and it looks lovely and delicious. The article also mentions that famous chef Alton Brown made butter from his own wife’s breast milk. You can read this article here:
Probably my favorite thing about the article is the chef, Daniel Angerer, says regarding breast milk :
“To throw it out would be like wasting gold.”
Clearly, to this man, breast milk is fantastic. I agree.
The first article garnered mostly negative comments towards the store manager’s viewpoint that breastfeeding and breast milk are stinky and gross. Nearly everyone can agree he had a skewed concept of feeding a child, even if he has a right as store manager in his country to say a woman cannot breastfeed her child in his store. The second article, however, also draws negative comments. “Gross”. “Yuck”. “No way”.
How is that we can disapprove of a store manager’s attitude and handling of a breastfeeding mother in the first example, yet turn right around and proclaim the same attitude towards the second example of the chef creating cheese from human milk? How has advertising and society skewed our attitude towards human milk? Many of the people who think making cheese or butter from breast milk is gross are the same people who fed their children milk from cows — either in formula, or certainly by the time they were a year old. How is it not gross to feed yourself or your child milk from not only someone that is not your mother, but is a different species/animal/life form altogether? Maybe we need to rethink the use of milk and what is gross or fantastic.
The chef from New York isn’t serving this to his restaurant guests; he is using it for personal use. The same way a cow, under normal circumstances, would use her milk to feed her calves.
Food for thought.