‘Unfit for Human Consumption’


'Stop Baby! I'm from the council! Has that milk been passed fit for human consumption?'

Yesterday the tubes were full of the story of ‘Baby Gaga’, a new ‘flavour’ of ice-cream made with milk, cream, vanilla and a little twist of lemon zest. It probably didn’t escape your notice that the milk came not from a cow, but from a human being. Victoria whatsit was being paid £15 per 100ml to donate her breastmilk… ice-cream was being sold at the same price per scoop. Win win, you might say.

Today, though, Westminster Council have asked Icecreamists to remove the recipe from the menu as they’re unsure whether the ice-cream is ‘fit for human consumption’.

There are sometimes sounds that people make that defy spelling. This is one of them. It begins with ‘but… er…’ and moves easily into a spluttering stutter embellished with rolling of eyes, another ‘but’ and attempt to get this sense into words while the mind boggles, another ‘but’ is thrown into play and we give up, ending in a few more curt ‘er, well…’

I like to take things to their logical conclusions sometimes. And where this leads is not comfortable – actually, things rarely are when you start to consider human lactation.

Firstly, someone who knows about these things has commented on their concern about consuming bodily fluids. I expect this chap might have made these comments with a  cup of tea on his desk – whitened, no doubt, with the bodily fluid of a cow. He might have had that same bovine bodily fluid on his cornflakes, or condensed to cheese in his lunchtime sarnie. God forbid, he might actually have been a baby once and not only grown inside his mum’s body, swishing around in – guess what – a bodily fluid, but after being born, which I expect he was, he might actually have consumed some of the bodily fluid he is now claiming to be unfit for others to consume. And if he didn’t, someone actually thought it was sensible instead to feed him on a modified version of the same bodily fluid that cows make.

Secondly, where does decrying breastmilk as ‘unfit for human consumption’ leave the poor babies of Westminster? Is he going to employ an army of breastmilk testers to patrol the Costa Coffees of central London to test the quality of the milk, and to prevent lactating mothers who fail to pass muster from feeding their babies? Or does the concept of ‘breastmilk unfit for human consumption’ only apply to adults with bulging wallets who are fully capable of making an informed choice as to what to put in their mouths?

Doesn’t he see that what we eat and drink is totally cultural? If the Icecreamists were to offer whale milk ice-cream, or ferret milk ice-cream, or kangaroo milk ice-cream, would there be the same outcry or sense of revulsion? Sense of revulsion maybe (rat milk doesn’t sound great, does it? And not sure how you would go about milking a whale, although the quantities would probably be better than from a ferret…) but less of an outcry. What about a pig? Hmmm… Or shall we get farmyardy? Pig? Goat? Now you’re talking… or how about a buffalo? Oh, hang on, that’s the same as a cow.

We only drink cow’s milk because we can. A whole lot of other mammals have the good sense to be able to control their lactation and won’t just drip milk when a human being gives their udders a good squeeze. And, funnily enough, human beings do tend to lactate for other human beings – a bit of an advantage really when it comes to the extention of the human race – so perhaps it’s not such a bizarre idea after all.

I am inclined to lead Mr or Mrs Westminster Council Public Health person to get themselves tied up in the most splendidly bizarre nots with the concept that breastmilk could possibly be unfit for human consumption. I do accept that they are worried about HIV, hepatitis and the rest, and yes, it would be a Bad Thing if this human milk of kindness (and filthy lucre) got someone really ill. But the Icecreamists did claim to check it before they used it, and quite honestly, it would have been pretty similar to the spot-checks they do on cow’s milk – and not all cows lead a blameless life, either. Or do they? (Second thoughts – let’s not go there.)

And anyway, breastmilk is quite nice. I know. I’ve tried it. And, utterly weirdly, I’m not dead.

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~ by Kedi Simpson on March 1, 2011.

One Response to “‘Unfit for Human Consumption’”

  1. Not entirely sure how I missed this Kedi, but am currenly doing lots of rolling of my eyes.

    I think what happens with these “persons of Westminsterage” is that they undergo rigourous testing themselves before passing through the doors of parliament – much like an x-ray scanner at the airport, only this one devoids them of any rational thought.

    If it wasn’t for the fact that this is such a commonplace reaction to breastfeeding by many who don’t “get it”, it would actually be laughable!

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