Archive for the ‘Odd news’ Category

Milk and Ice Cream Like Mama Used to Make?

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

In the “strange but true” department this week, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) approached Ben & Jerry’s with a novel idea: make ice cream out of breast milk.

Said PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman:

The fact that human adults consume huge quantities of dairy products made from milk that was meant for a baby cow just doesn’t make sense…Everyone knows that ‘the breast is best,’ so Ben & Jerry’s could do consumers and cows a big favor by making the switch to breast milk.

Makes me wonder what Reiman puts on her cereal in the morning.

The health benefits of breast milk are well documented, but no one knows what those benefits would be to adults and children who have been weaned from the teat. Besides, it just sounds…weird.

Says Donna at, who is expecting her first child any day now:

I intend to breastfeed Baby Champuru for at least 6-12 months, knowing the health benefits for her. But would I consider spiking Hubby’s breakfast cereal with my breast milk or using it to cook up some corn chowder for the next family potluck? Um, no.

Ben & Jerry’s declined, of course, but I wonder what would have happen had they taken PETA up on that offer. Advertising Age outlines a few practical difficulties:

By some estimates, it takes 12 gallons of cow’s milk to produce one gallon of ice cream, and with a lower fat content, mother’s milk might be less efficient. The Ben & Jerry’s spokesman declined to release volume numbers for competitive reasons, but Information Resources Inc. data, not counting Wal-Mart or foodservice outlets, indicates the brand sold more than 73 million pints of ice cream in the 52 weeks ended Sept. 7. Even assuming a woman could supply enough milk for a pint a day, that would still require more than 200,000 to contribute to the effort full time, not counting the needs of Wal-Mart or other outlets.

So let me get this straight. We’re going to ask 200,000 nursing women, at any one time, to express their extra breast milk (obviously, their children come first) each day and make it available to Ben & Jerry’s so it can manufacture its new-fangled breast-milk-based ice cream.

One, unless you put those women under strictly controlled conditions (that is, you feed them the same thing, etc.), and screen it as carefully as you screen the blood supply, you have no way of knowing what’s in that milk. It’s a known fact that nicotine and drugs (even legal prescription or non-prescription drugs) will show up in breast milk. Lord knows what would happen if I took a taste of that ice cream and the mother from whose milk it came had a infection for which she took penicillin, to which I’m allergic. That may, quite literally, be the last time I ever had that ice cream, or ANY ice cream.

Two, given our society, backing breast milk over cow’s milk would put a lot of dairy cows out of work, and possibly onto people’s dinner plates. As Charles Memminger put it, Ben & Jerry’s keeps a lot of Vermony cows from going “to that Big Barbecue in the Sky.” I would rather a live cow giving milk, with all the shortcomings of modern agriculture, than dead cow on my dinner plate. (Don’t get me wrong: I would still eat it, being an omnivore, but if I had to choose…)

And three, I would probably think that a breast-milk based ice cream would be rather unfamiliar to the palates of ice cream connoisseurs. While sorbets and such have been around for hundreds of years, ice cream as such was first seen in 18th century England and its colonies. I would imagine that by then cow milk had become the standard there. Desserts like ice cream can be made from milk of other animals (Turkey has its own version made from goat’s milk), but human milk may render a product that tastes…different.

But what about other attempts to use breast milk? PETA cited the restaurant Storchen, located near Zurich, Switzerland, whose chef, Hans Locher, got the idea (h/t to include breast milk in his restaurant dishes after noticing an influx of new mothers into the neighborhood. (He had previously experimented privately with excess breast milk left over from the birth of his daughter and the results apparently were good…so he says.) He apparently made an offer to those mothers to sell their excess milk so he could realize his dream. But the Swiss government got wise to it and shut down that idea.

I guess the Swiss dairy industry must have gotten spooked as well (after all, the reputation of their signature cheese might be at stake too).

Reading the article, it turns out that this wasn’t the first time that breast milk has been attempted in culinary contexts. The sidebar cited an example where a Chinese chef tried the same thing that Locher tried only to be thwarted by the authorities as well.

And it turns out that human breast milk products for sale to Joe Consumer, if not actually tried, has been written about, here and here.

As for me, I think I’ll stick to the kind that comes from Bessie or Lani Moo. I probably will experience a second childhood later in life, but I don’t think I want to go THAT far back.

Chunks of Reality: Smorgasbord

Monday, April 14th, 2008

My Odd News feed served up a feast today. For an appetizer, how about some oysters:

NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Patrick “Deep Dish” Bertoletti looked down at the litter of empty oyster shells in front of him and savored the sweet taste of victory. For Crazy Legs Conti, the bitter taste of defeat could be washed away only by beer.

The Acme World Oyster Eating championship belt — leather, with a silver dish featuring an oyster on the half-shell — hung on Bertoletti’s skinny hips. The 22-year-old Chicago resident took the title Saturday by slurping 35 dozen of the big bivalves in eight minutes.

Then the main course: some Uruguayan beef:

MONTEVIDEO (Reuters) – More than a thousand barbecue fanatics in Uruguay grilled up 12 metric tonnes of beef on Sunday, setting a new Guinness world record while promoting the country’s succulent top export.

Army personnel set up a grill nearly 1.5 kilometres long and fire-fighters lit six tonnes of charcoal to kick off the gargantuan cookout.

Finally, for dessert, how about some ballots a la mode:

NAPLES (Reuters) – Ballot stuffing took on a new meaning in Italy’s parliamentary election on Sunday when a man ate his ballot paper in protest at the country’s politicians.

Chunks of Reality: Girls, Girls, Girls

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

From the “Time to rethink the marketing campaign (and the employee incentives)” department:

DES MOINES, Iowa – A judge has denied an Iowa man’s claim that he shouldn’t have been fired for repeatedly requesting help to procure a prostitute.

Neil Jorgensen, 62, of Kalona, worked at Riverside Casino and Golf Resort in Riverside and was given a gift certificate and free night’s stay at the casino hotel to mark a year’s employment.

After eating and drinking at a casino restaurant, he returned to his hotel room about midnight and later called hotel managers about hiring a prostitute. When managers refused to help him, he made a call to the adjacent resort and made the same request.

“The advertisement is that it’s just like Las Vegas, so I thought I was in Las Vegas,” Jorgensen testified at a hearing regarding his request for unemployment benefits.

From the “Some people will do anything to avoid being over the hill” department:

“Girl” at school was 39-year-old man

TOKYO (Reuters) – A Japanese man was arrested for trespassing this week after turning up at a high school dressed in a girl’s uniform and a long wig, local police said.

Thirty-nine-year-old Tetsunori Nanpei told police he had bought the uniform over the Internet and put it on to take a stroll near the school in Saitama, north of Tokyo, on Wednesday, the daily Asahi Shimbun said.

When students standing outside the gates started to scream at the sight of him, he dashed inside the school grounds, hoping to blend in with the crowds of teenagers, the paper said. …

And finally, from the “If you have to ask, you aren’t” department:

“Are Women Human?” And other publishing highlights

LONDON (Reuters) – They may not leap off the shelves into the best-seller category, but the books shortlisted for the oddest book title prize certainly grab the attention. […]

While none of the above may challenge the sensibilities too much, others are likely to prove more divisive. Try “If You Want Closure in Your Relationship, Start With Your Legs” or “Are Women Human? And other International Dialogues.”

Chunks of Reality: Bear Spray and Woolly Mammoths

Saturday, February 16th, 2008

From the “Perhaps it’s time for this guy to head back to civilization” department:

KODIAK, Alaska – A man faces assault charges after allegedly spraying bar patrons twice with bear spray.

From the “And, of course, the U.S. Senate IS an ancient fossil” department:

DUBLIN (Reuters) – Ireland’s senators will have to share a museum building with the remains of prehistoric woolly mammoths and spotted hyenas during repairs to the Georgian mansion that normally houses parliament’s upper chamber.

Much of Leinster House, built in the 1740s and used by Ireland’s houses of parliament since the 1920s, will close for urgent repairs and the 60-seat upper chamber is to be housed in the natural history museum next door, Irish media reported.