Maryland Blogger Alliance

Alliance FAQs

Latest MBA Posts

February 27, 2007

The milk of human kindness

I've previously discovered how useful Craig's List can be, so I wasn't terribly surprised when I learned from Maryland Conservatarian that some folks in the Bible Belt of Berkeley, California, posted an ad offering a free room to a woman who agreed to provide breast milk for the other roommates. The text is reprinted in BoingBoing:

We are offering a free room for a woman who is willing to provide breast milk for consumption to the household. We are an otherwise vegan house but have recently read A.O. Wilson's study of the benefits of human breast milk to all human beings of any age. This is not sexual. Neither appearance nor sexual preference are of any concern to us.

We are willing to accept one child into the house as well. We do not want to take breast milk away from a nursing child however. We also don't need gallons of breast milk but whatever you can muster; it is a nutritional supplement for members of the house who want to partake.

The room is 10'x 15' in a sunny house in Berkeley. There are 7 other people in the house and we live largely communally - shared food and house supplies. You must still pay for food, only rent is free. Reply to this posting and we will set up a time. Contact Dana.
This, of course, raises some extremely vexing questions. Such as:

1. Are these people discriminating against men and non-lactating women, or are they exempt from moral condemnation because they live in Berkeley? I'll have to pose that question to Randy Cohen, the "ethicist" at the New York Times.

2. Is human breast milk truly vegan? I don't think you'll ever get a serious response to this question from vegans. More like: "That's not funny!" Which is basically the tenor of this thread I found at a vegan forum. My personal favorite line in the thread is this: "If the breast milk is given freely (by the wielder of the breasts, of course), it is vegan."

3. Is breast milk kosher? The general rule is that animal milk is kosher only if the animal is kosher, but people aren't kosher. So how can a baby drink it? That's different. I once had a frum guy tell me a story about a frum woman at the airport who was ordered to drink some breast milk she had with her in a container in order to prove it was actually breast milk. She said she couldn't because it wasn't kosher. It turns out that this isn't quite accurate.
Breast milk is kosher and pareve. The reason is that only the milk of animals we eat is "milk" for kashrut purposes. (In simple terms, milk of a non-kosher animal is not kosher, just like the animal it came from, but a person is not an animal.) You can mix breast milk with cereal in whatever bowl matched what the rest of the family is eating.
So go ahead and enjoy it with your corn flakes! (So long as your corn flakes are certified kosher.)

4. If you marketed breast milk as a nutritional supplement, what would you call the product? Cafe Hayek has one answer, but the first commenter there wins the prize.

5. Why isn't there a government program to provide breast milk to all Americans, especially those 247 million who have no lactation insurance? The folks in Berkeley should demand such a program from their congressperson, Barbara Lee, and from the one across the bay, Nancy Pelosi. Are we done with the first 100 hours yet?