Flavor of the month: Depression

PETA has now formally taken a stand on ice cream.  In late September they sent a letter to Ben and Jerry of Vermont ice cream fame urging the use of human breast milk in place of the bovine variety.  The letter was sent after Storchen restaurant in Winterthur, Switzerland declared they would be using 75% human breast milk.  PETA rightly argued that if the eternally ‘neutral’ cheesemakers can take a stand on this issue, so can we.

Still, I have personal problems with the thought.  Despite distance, eating such ice cream invariably brings to mind another woman’s breast.  The thought creeps me out.  Granted, there’s nothing appealing in thinking about a cow’s teat when I’m eating, but somehow the other one is just more disturbing.  And then there’s the invariable thought of the woman behind the breast.

What kind of woman would be giving up her breast milk for ice cream?  Is there a high likelihood of disease transference?  What about drugs?  Putting aside the fact that the potential milk donor may or may not be a heroine addict, what about legitimate medical dosages and even over-the-counter medications?  What kind of nebulous drug interactions could take place in a vat of donated human breast milk?  Just how much would they be able to even test for, let alone remove?

Even in ideal cases, there are questions.  What kind of raging hormones am I likely to get dished out with my butter pecan?  What if the milk donor of my scoop, despite the fact that she is perfectly healthy and completely drug free, lost her baby and feels depressed every time she has to pump?  Am I getting those hormones along with my Chunky Monkey?

On that note, how much different is it from what we’re currently getting?  What kind of antibiotic and other medications are we getting secondhand in our ice cream even from cows?  What if all the cows are depressed, as PETA would allege, from losing their own children or even from poor living conditions?  Just was IS in that second scoop of rocky road?

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Flop, flop, flop, SWIM!

Ok, I am a sucker for cuteness. Maybe not that artificial cuteness of Anne Geddes or kittens and puppies posed unusually.  But the natural, everyday cuteness and ridiculous awkwardness of life – babies who drool on themselves, old people who smile with few teeth, or almost any animal scrabbling on ice – really get me going.  In recent CNN/iReport news, its’ all about the baby turtles.

The turtles have it all – awkward limbs, a struggle to survive, and people cooing over them with video cameras.  It’s moments like these that documentaries were made for.  I could watch millions of baby turtles struggle to get swept out to sea over and over again. In fact, now that I have this video, that’s exactly what I plan on doing.

But the delicacy of the turtles in those first scramblings for the ocean is made all the more poignant in the video.  many will be eaten in-egg, many more upon hatching, and most will never reach the sea.  For this reason, many beaches have systems in place to preserve the hatchling sea turtles.  Individuals may dig trenches to lead the babies to the sea, or carefully watch egg clutches to protect them from predators.  I’m not sure if these individual effort have had any effect on the greater number of sea turtles.  Still, if there is an effect, I wonder if it’s a good one.  Cute as they are, are there dangerous or harmful consequences resulting from a little protection?

Salty bananas

I was unaware, but evidently there have always been old wives’ tales about what foods you eat during conception and what sex your infant will become.  Recent scientific studies have shown that there may, in fact be a correlation.  If you eat foods high in potassium (such as bananas) or sodium, it probably increases your chances of having a boy, the study says and old wives agree.  So I guess all the young newlyweds in China are going to start eating salty bananas before bed.  Or just eating more – the study also showed those with a higher calorie intake had a higher chance of birthing boys.

For the moment, I have my doubts.  While the results are not conclusive as to the percent increased chance of having boys or girls, the study itself makes me wonder.  Of course diet has a significant effect.  Sunlight, mood, chemical balances, and organ function probably all have an effect.  I have not reviewed the data or methods myself, and the calorie intake portion of results seems verifiable.  Other sections don’t necessarily give me the same assurance.  When surveying different nutrient intakes, what determines your results?  It is unclear to me whether a specific substance, like salt, could truly be found to disposition the female body to favor one type of sperm, due to the complications of other factors of diet.  I suppose more research will be done, and maybe then we’ll know something.  Maybe.

Babies!

There is an international rule that babies are cute.  Of course, this is not always actually true, but we say all babies are cute as a kind of acceptable lie.  Many babies in fact look like little old people – but then, little old people are considered cute and given all kinds of special permission to break social norms.  Except for dirty Frenchmen.  It doesn’t matter how old they are, they still think they have a chance, so you can’t afford to let them hit on you.

There are also the related corollaries that have to do with certain features of the infants resembling that of their parents or grandparents.  While others (thank you, Sarah) may think this is just an accepted lie perhaps to assure the legitimacy of fatherhood, there are other possible reasons behind the early commentary.  An offhand example is the ‘got your nose’ game.  What child would realistically ever be fooled that his uncle’s visible nose was replaceable with his own cute little button unless he’d heard from infancy that he had Uncle Hershel’s snoz?

But what I’d really like to mention is the puppy corollary.  Even the word itself is cute – ‘puppy!’  How can an infant dog not be adorable, even if it does grow up into a disgusting-looking bulldog?  I mean, look at those biggly paws!  And this really applies to the entire animal kingdom.  Baby polar bear?  Cute.  Baby panda?  Cute (I have video evidence I’ll try to include later).  Baby giraffe, all gangles and purple tongue?  Still cute.