America’s Distaste for Mommy’s Milk
By Harrison S. Himmel
Guest contributor, 4-month-old
I don’t know a lot about a lot. I’m only four months old, after all. My understanding of the world revolves around one thing: milk. I love milk. I love my mommy’s milk. Really, like there’s no form of measurement grand enough to represent how much I absolutely love my mommy’s milk. It is my breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack. I love it so much that I often drink too much of it, which makes me vomit. And when I do, I always vomit on myself so that none of that sweet, sweet goodness goes to waste. Because my mommy’s milk is so good that it not only fills my tummy with vitamins and protein, but it also helps keep my skin healthy. Incredible, right?
Yeah, my mom’s boobs are awesome.
And apparently, my mommy isn’t the only mommy with boobs that churn out delicious, life-giving milk. And that’s a problem for the United States.
During the World Health Assembly in Geneva this past May, delegates to the World Health Organization were all set to move forward on a resolution that would encourage breastfeeding and limit inaccurate or misleading marketing of baby formula. Everyone expected the resolution to pass with ease, and it should have, since there are decades of research showing the multitude of benefits of breastfeeding. And not just for babies like me, but for mommies, too. And there are even benefits that adults enjoy if they were chugging boobie milk as babies. Wow! Right?
But the delegation from the United States doesn’t like boobie milk because boobie milk is free and corporations haven’t found a way to monetize boobie milk yet, so the U.S. delegation began throwing its weight around in an effort to water down the resolution, seeking to remove language that called on policy makers to restrict the promotion of food products that many experts say can have “deleterious effects on young children.”
I don’t know what deleterious means — because I’m only four months old — but it doesn’t sound good.
This move by the U.S., led by the Department of Health & Human Services, shocked the other delegates. Not only because protecting people from harmful foods and misleading marketing ploys seems like a no-brainer — even to me, and my brain is still like 40 percent mush (I’m guessing. I don’t know math yet) — but because of the way it used threats of trade measures and removing military aid from smaller, poorer countries if they sponsored or supported the resolution as it was originally written.
Bullying is nothing new to America. My daddy has been reading me Howard Zinn’s The People’s History of the United States each night at bedtime, so I know that brute force, threats and bullish tactics are the American Way. Still, this crusade against boobie milk is exceptionally grotesque. It’s pure greed in favor of the $70 billion baby food industry — the formula makers.
Formula, in theory isn't a terrible thing. Formula as a supplement is OK. Formula as the exclusive baby food is problematic. And the way that formula manufacturers push their expensive, less beneficial product on the poor is most certainly problematic. Before I was even born, my mommy started getting direct mail pieces from formula companies promoting the not-all-that-accurate claims of healthful benefits. They even offer coupons in these things. It's their way of making a living, sure, but there's something nefarious about any company trying to get new, tired, stressed mommies to spend money on a product when they get the superior product free. How did she get on the mailing list? The baby registry, probably. Maybe that's why Daddy thinks baby showers are so stupid. The thing is, the resolution wasn’t looking to dismantle the baby food industry — most of which operates out of the U.S. like Chicago’s Abbott Laboratories, which spent $790,000 lobbying in 2017 — it was merely looking to maintain truth in advertising, promote the benefits of breastfeeding and provide access to boobie milk throughout the world.
While all women can produce milk from their boobies, many women cannot produce enough boobie milk to keep their babies healthy. The resolution in action could even help get actual boobie milk from mommies like mine, who have it leaking out all over the floor, couch, and chairs, to mommies who don't have it leaking out at all. Getting boobie milk to these mommies and babies would be a really good thing for everybody. A 2016 study found that universal breastfeeding would prevent more than 800,000 child deaths a year and create $300 billion in savings from reduced healthcare costs and improved economic outcomes.
America’s attempt to downplay the global health and financial benefits of boobie milk is further undeniable proof that America doesn’t care about its children or its mothers. Its only interest is in making its rich corporations richer while snuffing out its own future. Because if babies grow up to be sick and poor adults, they won’t be able to buy Abbott’s baby formula.
The good thing is that America failed to dilute the importance of boobie milk and ensure more people remain unhealthy and poor because Russia — Russia — stepped up to sponsor the resolution. A Russian delegate said they introduced the resolution out of principle. “We’re not trying to be a hero here, but we feel that it is wrong when a big country tries to push around some very small countries, especially on an issue that is really important for the rest of the world.” America didn’t threaten Russia. Because Russia is a big guy. And America only picks on the little guy. Little guys like Ecuador and other poor nations in Latin America and Africa.
And little guys like me. Babies.
I don’t know what the U.S. government has against children and families. I tried asking my daddy about it but I can’t speak yet, only coo and squeal, which only made Daddy want to kiss my cheeks — I think my daddy might be an idiot — but I do think this news upsets him, too.
After putting me putting me down for the night the other evening, I heard him say to Mommy, “Can you believe the balls on this country? Christ, I need a drink.” And then Mommy said, “Please, David, don’t drink so much.” A few hours later, Daddy snuck into my room thinking I was asleep and whispered to me, “I’m sorry we made such a mess of this place for you, boychick. I hope you can make it better.” Then he kissed me on my forehead and left, and my room reeked of alcohol.
And I wonder, with my little bitty mush baby brain, if Daddy would feel better if he drank more of Mommy’s boobie milk. I know he likes her boobies because he's always staring at them. And mommy's milk is really, really good for you even if America wants us to think otherwise.