I was inspired to have a little ramble about this after reading the wonderful discussion that sprung from the link I posted on our facebook page – the one about the Covent Garden eatery Icecreamists selling breastmilk ice cream. The dessert, called Babygaga, costs £14 a serving and is made from the donated breastmilk of one Victoria Hiley.
So we all know that breastmilk is the normal food for babies. Even parents who have never breastfed a child will mostly agree that it is natural, normal and the optimum nutrition for little people.
However there are a few cultures in our world that continue to drink breastmilk past childhood – namely the Mongolians. They believe that it is a magical drink that everybody should benefit from. If there is spare expressed milk in the Mongolian home, it will be drunk by somebody rather than go to waste. Indeed, breastmilk has some amazing properties (including the ability to kill several different types of cancer), so who could blame them for choosing to continue to benefit from it into adulthood?
However, us westerners live in a world in which breastmilk is often shunned for babies, let alone adults. After seeing the article about the breast milk ice-cream being served up in Covent Garden, I knew it would make for an interesting discussion. Many said they would be happy to eat it. Some said they would eat their own, but not someone else’s. And some of the mamas, myself included, said that they wouldn’t eat the ice-cream themselves.
Yep, you heard right. Imogen, the tireless promoter of breastfeeding, wouldn’t eat breastmilk ice cream. And you know what? I haven’t even tried my own breastmilk. Yet.
This bothers me. It bothers me that I am so indoctrinated that I will happily drink milk made by a cow, intended for cow babies, but that I don’t feel able to try my OWN milk that my OWN body made. It’s almost like my brain is lumping my breast milk in with other bodily fluids that I wouldn’t want to consume, like faeces and urine. How wrong is that?!
That’s not to say that I think everyone should be running to their pumps in order to extract themselves some milk for their coffees. I happen to believe that humans shouldn’t be drinking ANY milk after the natural weaning from the breast that happens in childhood – usually by the age of 6 or 7, much younger in the western world. Cows milk proteins especially have catastrophic effects for the immune system and many, many people cannot tolerate dairy products.
My argument is that it is a very, very sad state of affairs when it is considered socially acceptable to drink milk intended for the babe of another species, but not to drink your own, or someone else’s breastmilk. Breastmilk is considered to be another ‘gross’ bodily fluid – often to the point that many babies don’t even get to taste it. Regardless of whether or not we think that adults should consume breastmilk, this is a clear sign that as a society we need to rethink what we view as acceptable and normal with regards to food. When the pure, organic, health-benefiting milk of a mama is considered to be ‘gross’ but we are happy to consume disgusting toxins and chemicals in our food, you know there’s something wrong.
I would love to hear your views on this. Head on over to our facebook community and take a look at the article, then come back here to share your comments!