Tag Archive | World Breastfeeding Week

Far from Home

Well here I am. Right now I am on retreat in beautiful California, far from home. While my orientation to space is altered due to this coastal exchange from east to west, my orientation to date and time has been altered as well. I have experienced a profound loss.  image

As I search for some renewed serenity and some solid ground-albeit in this land of shaky earth-I do try to stay somewhat aware of the prevailing events of these times that still swirl around me. Likewise, as I reconnect with the calendar structure that patterns the days before me, I turn the page onto August just in time to remember to honor the annual celebration of World Breastfeeding Week.

In that I consider the support of breastfeeding babes, moms and families an essential component of improving the collective health of communities around the globe, I do always try to write something about World Breastfeeding Week and its annually appointed theme.

Forgive me this year, that as my tears still flow more readily than my words, in lieu of my own thoughts I share this interesting article by journalist Ellen Wulfhorst who I am grateful to call my dear friend. Ellen provides a look at the very real consequences of compromised attention to the timely initiation of breastfeeding. This highlights how powerful are the immunoprotective properties of breast milk and how greatly breastfeeding serves as an antidote to infant mortality.

Thank you to all of you who continue to support me, my blog and my work. Gratitude to those who have nourished me so wonderfully on this visit–Julie, Gordon, Debbie, Michael, Ben, Lois and Richard. (Check out Lois and Richard’s creative and funny political satire webisode series Medicare Mermaids at http://www.medicaremermaids.com)

To healthy birth and rebirth, Elyn

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Julie’s MyPlate

MyPlate Food for Thought. Breastfeeding is not only the cornerstone of a child’s healthy development; it is also the foundation of a country’s development. UNICEF and World Health Organization’s World Breastfeeding Week Message

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first food

Yesterday, while I was leaving work, my friends wished me a nice weekend, acknowledging that I was taking today off in honor of my birthday. Happy Birthday they chimed while sweetly presenting me with a sunflower plant. As I have for the past twenty seven years when asked about birthday plans, I am apt to explain that it is also my son’s birthday. Though my day’s celebration is no longer actively intertwined with his as it was when he was young, I cannot extricate my birth from his.SSPX01991

When I mentioned this, Josie commented how for every parent, the birth day (or receiving day) of their first child marks their own re-birth as well, no matter the confluence of dates. It is the day that changes profoundly everything that may have preceded it. This is quite true. Cathy added that she birthed her first child exactly at the moment Mount St. Helena’s volcano erupted in 1980! While distanced by an entire continent, for her the event was no less spectacular.

Still, I remain as tickled and surprised by my calendrical coincidence of blazing glory incarnation as I was the mid-summer night it occurred. And, as I have mentioned in previous posts, I enjoy that the date I first brought babe to breast coincides with World Breastfeeding Week/Breastfeeding Awareness Month. As a matter with so many implications for health, nutrition, and societal well being, and one rife with dilemmas, I try to bring attention to this important activism each year. Thanks to Mary Ellen, here’s a nice little video about First Food that helps give perspective to the story of infant feeding.

This year’s theme for World Breastfeeding Week is Breastfeeding and Work: Let’s Make it Work. Its focus is on furthering support for nursing women working in formal, non-formal or home settings so as they can continue to breastfeed their babies and maintain their right to breastfeed. The need to return to work–exacerbated by the lack of mandated and satisfactory maternity leave policies–is one of the main factors why women stop nursing. The initiatives associated with this year’s campaign highlight and advocate for improved national and state labor laws and practices; employer awareness and compliance with existing laws; and ways to create clean, comfortable, private and safe areas for women to nurse or to express breast milk in the workplace.

It is encouraging to witness that some real strides are being made. Government agencies, global health organizations, national groups and local coalitions have been working hard so that women do not have to stop nursing their babies in order to keep food on the table for themselves and their families. Lactation spaces are becoming available in various public and private settings. Closets and storage areas in office and factory buildings, schools and daycare centers are being transformed into comfy lactation rooms; and crafty and caring entrepreneurs are designing nursing pods for women working, recreating, or relaxing in various field and outdoor settings.

In the fall of 2013, I attended a Nets basketball game at the then newly anointed and crazily crowded Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Navigating the many corridors along with throngs of people was not easy. Having made it up to our seats in the nosebleed section, the female contingent of my party had to then descend back down a few levels to find a bathroom. Literally relieved to find the facilities, we were also quite surprised to find a door marked ‘lactation room’. A burly guard stood by the entrance. Our supportive interest piqued, we asked him about the room. As though protecting a highly paid all star, he tersely informed us that there was someone in there. Though I wouldn’t bring my baby to such a noisy environment–unless like a family member was playing in the game or singing the national anthem–but if I did, I’d be nursing in my own seat, jumbotron cameras and all. But, for those mamas and babies who deserve a modicum of privacy and quiet dining, having such an option in such an incongruous setting is quite incredible. I wonder who there is to thank for that.

My own awareness of the many aspects of this year’s Let’s Make It Work campaign was heightened yesterday as well, when I was fortunate, as in previous years, to watch SUNY Albany’s School of Public Health/New York State Department of Health’s Bureau of Supplemental Foods annual webcast presentation of Breastfeeding Ground Rounds. This was, as always, an excellent program and it highlighted many great examples of breastfeeding-friendly environments. Though it left me feeling inspired, it also reminded me how amazing women are and how damn hard they work.

Stories and images of women shlepping breast pumps and accessories to work, utilizing break and lunch time to sit in secluded rooms listening to the whir of mechanical pumps, rushing into day care centers in the middle of the workday to nurse a baby, sequestering into hidden spaces to feed their young, and negotiating with employers individually for their own rights–god bless them all.

My mixed reaction to the situation also was evident as I attempted to find an image for my new Lifeseeds Nutrition Instagram post to honor the week and encountered some difficulties. The breast feeding photos I most easily found depicted either beatific, blissed out industrialized world mothers posed in pristine settings or somber faced traditional world mothers huddled in sparse environments. Though I appreciate the beauty of both, neither captured what I was looking for– a reflection of how working mothers often feel in our modern society–weary from its many demands and yet comforted in the respite of feeding their child. I hope the one I finally chose came close.

As for my birthday, I wished really only for a little quiet me time. Though no longer tending daily to my children’s needs, with one child still in college I am still a working mom. The memories of running from baby sitter to job to various activities with a baby in tow are still pretty fresh and my plate continues to feel pretty full. Thankfully, I got what I wished for. It is a perfect sunny day and my little village is exquisitely tranquil. My front porch cradles me, and I have some time to write. Soon I will have the phone conversation with my son where we kind of simultaneously say, Happy Birthday.

Until then, wishing all the hard working mommas, and all whom support them, good nourishment of both body and soul.

In health, Elyn

Comments, thoughts and hellos welcome. Please subscribe or follow me on Instagram.

Related Posts: Blessed Feeding; To She Who Loves Us Before She Meets Us; Breastfeeding Redux; Oh MotherA Winning Goal

My Plate Plate

My Plate Plate

My Plate Haiku

hard toiling mamas

hear their hungry babies cry

breastfeeding and work–let’s make it work

by Elyn

a winning goal

I would feel a little remiss were I to not make mention this year of World Breastfeeding Week (WBW). In previous years I have always made a point to do so. But, it is late. I should already be in bed. Besides, I have to get to work early tomorrow in order to partake in a webinar that is celebrating the week and its important mission. So, I will be more brief than usual. wbw2014-logo-hd

Perhaps after tomorrow’s webinar, I will have something more inspiring or informational to offer with a larger perspective. Tonight, I sit quietly with only my personal experience–the one that reminds me that twenty-six years ago at this very time I was deeply in labor, nestled in my midwife’s quiet birthing room in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains. On the other side of midnight, in the dark of night of the day of my own birthday, my son would make his way into the world. Our breastfeeding relationship would begin immediately thereafter.

But, during that time, the practice of breastfeeding on a larger global scale was diminishing with serious consequences for maternal and child health, with societal and environmental implications as well. In 1981, the World Health Assembly adopted the International Code of the Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, to remediate the malnutrition suffered by infants and young children due to the inappropriate marketing of commercial formula.  And, then in 1990, exactly two years after my own bond was formed in connection with the dying art of breastfeeding, the Innocenti Declaration was signed by government policymakers, WHO, UNICEF and other organizations to protect, promote and support breastfeeding. It designated the first week of August as World Breastfeeding Week.

Twenty-four years later, though there have been significant gains made in reversing the declining trend, there is still work to be done. There are also newer nutritional impacts of breastfeeding being investigated as we begin to better understand the myriad functions of the gut microbiome.

This year’s WBW slogan is Breastfeeding: A Winning Goal for Life. I suppose it relates to this year’s Football World Cup. Could that be? That’s a little funny to me because my son has been a soccer player and is a devoted fan of the sport. Though no longer on the field much he is hoping to be working in the field of professional soccer someday. May I also parenthetically add, that throughout and since the World Cup games, I’ve noticed that I have had an almost daily blog reader from Brazil–so apparently not everyone in the country was focused on the sport. A special hello to that reader(s).

The objectives of WBW 2014 are strongly linked to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), set by governments and the United Nations to fight poverty and promote healthy and sustainable development in a comprehensive way by 2015. A description of how breastfeeding is linked to the MDGs can be found here. The connections are quite profound.

I am interested to see what I will learn in the course of tomorrow’s session. I will let you know if there is anything particularly interesting. In the meantime, please take a moment if you will and have a look at these powerful photos. They will say much more than my usual thousand words.

In health, Elyn

P.S. The webinar session was yesterday. It was sponsored by the SUNY School of Public Health and entitled, International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and Promoting and Supporting Exclusive Breastfeeding. I applaud the school’s long term commitment to this topic, and recommend the session highly. I believe it will be available soon for viewing online. Dr. Ruth Lawrence, an international breastfeeding authority, and author of Breastfeeding: A Guide for the Medical Profession, whose pioneering work and advocacy for breastfeeding dates back to the 1950s, is on the panel.

In the session I learned about some examples of successful applications as well as egregious violations of the International Code of Marketing.  I also was informed about some exciting outcomes in regard to increasing initiation and exclusivity of breastfeeding in some NYC hospitals and in the Vermont WIC Program due to some dedicated efforts. And, I also learned the term commerciogenic malnutrition. In this context it referred to the marketing of breastmilk substitutes and its impacts on babies, but I may ponder some wider implications as well.

As always, send word, share your thoughts, subscribe and pass along. Thanks.

Today’s MyPlate photo is of the beautiful watermelon cake my office “birthday angel”  made for me to celebrate my birthday! Go make one soon. Send me your MyPlate photo.

Related Posts: Blessed Feeding; To She Who Loves Us Before She Meets Us; Breastfeeding Redux; Oh Mother

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Cathy’s Plate

  My Plate Haiku

Are we what we eat

Or do we eat what we are

Are they the same thing?  by Julie

confluence

This is about confluence–where different streams of my life seem to flow together. One stream is that I began to nurse my young exactly 25 years ago today, on the day that my first child was born–on my birthday. That is one of the stories of my life–giving birth to my son on my birthday. That was pretty cool and only imagined at about 7 pm the evening before, after returning home from seeing the movie, “A Fish Called Wanda”.

Another stream is that it is World Breastfeeding Week. As a nutritionist concerned with the feeding of the species and maternal and child health issues, I think a lot about breastfeeding and spend time advocating and educating about it in my work.  I like to honor the annually appointed  World Breastfeeding Week that occurs during the first week in August– as does my  birthday. This year, I am using some of the well-produced materials from the  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health’s It’s Only Natural campaign as part of my activities at the Health Center and am continuing to address it in my writings.

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Today, my birthday and World Breastfeeding Week found my husband Pete and I in Seneca Falls, New York for Empire Farm Days, the largest, agricultural trade show in the Northeast– which for eighty summers has also taken place on this date.   Given the role that food plays in both my personal and professional life,  it was a gift to be in the midst of  the farmers whose business it is to grow and raise the amazing stuff and to be mindful of their concerns. Food off the farm has a very abstract quality, quite remote from its actual origins. But, being at this event, one can see that farming matters such as soil health, pest management, plant hardiness, marketing and the raising of animals are quite real.

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It was no surprise for me to find that my alma mater, Cornell University, had a large presence at Empire Farm Days.  Both reside upon the shores of Cayuga Lake, and Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences plays a large role in the state’s agricultural initiatives. My nutrition studies took place inches from what is referred to as the Ag School. I walked miles through its vast acreage, bought college-made ice cream at its Dairy Barn,  spent hours studying in its Mann Library, barely survived its microbiology course– and, it was where I met Pete. That of course contributed to the having of my above mentioned young.

But, then there was this stream too. At the Cornell exhibit, a video was playing called Birth on the Farm. It opened by showing bluebird babies hatching from their eggs, and barn swallows being fed by their parents, but then it moved quickly on to mammals. One after another I watched a sheep, a horse, a dog and a cow give birth, each baby emerging with amniotic sac intact. Once licked clean by their mama–with a little help from the farmer–these newborns quickly found their way  to nipple or utter and began to feed.  Human babies, like their mammalian cohort,  will find their way to the breast as well, when placed on their mama’s tummies.

Witnessing the wildly innate behavior of the mother/infant nursing dyad in the animal world heightened my wonder about how that behavior has become so disrupted among humans. I just finished a big research project on breastfeeding. My research served to scratch my perpetual itch to understand the modern-day hindrances to feeding our infants in the biologically prescribed way that has sustained humanity for millennia. How has something that a still unseeing and non-hearing puppy can figure out within minutes of birth become something that is culturally perceived as more difficult than rocket science and as contentious as climate change?  How has the concept of species-specific milk become so foreign?

I do know a lot of the answers to these questions, and I do appreciate that there are various circumstances where alternative methods of feeding are necessary or that choice is to be respected.  Even at the farming event I met a thirteen day old baby goat, the runt of its litter, that required supported bottle feeding by its human mama–but, still, it was receiving goat’s milk. Nonetheless, clinical outcomes and scientific research has led all of the leading health organizations to strongly recommend that human babies in both the non-industrialized and industrialized world exclusively receive human milk for the first six months of life for maximum immunological protection and neurological development. However, after about seven decades of the promotion of artificial milk substitutes (formula), there is still a collective refrain that formula is as good as breast milk–and that breastfeeding is oft not worth the bother.

The truth is that there are significant health and economic costs associated with not breastfeeding.  There are societal and environmental costs as well. It is just that the consequences are not as directly obvious as not wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle; or as prevalent and publicized as the risks of cigarette smoking.  Also, many of the challenges ascribed to breastfeeding, and some of the difficulties that individual women encounter, are really attributable to the lack of proper breastfeeding policies and supports on many levels.

Still in the flow of the day’s happenings, I excitedly headed over by myself to the Women’s Rights National Park and Museum and Women’s Hall of Fame.  This was the icing on my cake. The exhibits were awe inspiring and gave me a really deep appreciation of how arduous the fight for women’s rights was–and is still. Immersed in this incredible history, I mused over the sometimes expressed contention that breastfeeding further chains women to their domestic duties and inhibits their participation in the workplace and in society where they may wish or need to be. Walking in the footsteps of these courageous women, I was bolstered in my feeling that this argument misses the point. It is not breastfeeding, but instead, the lack of mandated maternity leaves, workplace supports and other inequalities in this country that are prohibitive. The exhibits themselves provided some proof.

For example, I learned that Norway, the country with the highest breastfeeding rates in the world, also leads in regard to the number of women in parliamentary positions, and that this year, Ina May Gaskin is being inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame. Ina May, is the modern “mother of authentic midwifery”.  Though midwives had assisted with childbirth since ancient times, their role had been essentially obliterated with the professionalization of male-dominated obstetrics in the early twentieth century. Her efforts sparked a revolutionary movement which not only opened the way for the re-emergence and popularization of midwifery-guided and women-empowered birth but also contributed to the re-establishment of some breastfeeding practice in this country. Interestingly, Ina May perfected her motherly arts at a commune community called The Farm, and her grandmother was an avid admirer of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the suffragettes.

imagejpeg_2 (11)At the end of the afternoon, Pete rejoined me and we went for dinner. As we  sat at the restaurant overlooking the water where the Cayuga-Seneca Canal comes into Seneca Lake, I thought about how the streams of my day all flowed together– birthday,  college, nutritional work, food and farming, women’s rights, birth and breastfeeding. These are all pretty big themes in my life. Considering this confluence, I contemplated its meaning. Could it be, that if when enough babies are born welcomed and sustained by mother’s touch, natural nipple and warm nutritionally complete milk; when women’s capacity to nurture and nourish is deeply valued and protected; and, when our farmers are supported to grow healthy food and to protect the land–that the world may be a  safer, healthier and softer place?

Please, let me know what you think and do send greetings!

In health, Elyn

 

My Plate

My Plate

My Plate Haiku

Thanks to our farmer

Blueberries kissed by the sun

So much to enjoy!

by Crystal

blessed feeding summer rerun

 

This week, August 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week.  World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every year in more than 170 countries to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world. It commemorates the Innocenti Declaration made by WHO and UNICEF policy-makers in August 1990 to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.    http://worldbreastfeedingweek.org/

In celebration, and because I have been busy and have not written recently, I offer a previous post.  I dedicate it to my son, born on my  birthday on August 7th–an incredible gift.    He was a happy nurser, deeply committed to the cause.   I honor that his deliverance occurred during this important week.  To happy births and blessed feedings.

It was one of those mornings.  One minute I am simply getting dressed for work, the next I am hopping around with only one leg in my tights, trying to find pen and paper to grab what I can from another nutrition-related radio story.  On that particular day, it was an NPR story entitled, Some Baby Formulas May Cause Faster Weight Gain.

English: Breastfeeding an infant Português: Um...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The story which ran on January 24, 2011, starts out by saying that breastfeeding can be challenging, so most babies are on formula.  It was about a small study comparing cow’s milk formula and predigested protein formulas– which are very expensive and used mainly for babies with significant digestive issues including cow’s milk allergies.  The research suggested that at 7 months of age, the cow’s milk formula babies weighed two pounds more than breastfed and predigested formula babies.  The study only observed that the babies drinking the cow’s milk formula took a longer time to be satiated and therefore drank more. There was no explanation given for this.

Interviewed for the story was a Dr. Nicholas Stettler, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia.  He starts out by saying that formulas have been proven safe and effective, and if infants like them and eat them, they’ll maintain their health and weight.  He then goes on to say that babies who gain too much weight in the first weeks and months of life are 5 times more prone to obesity and its inherent health risks by age 20–and that formula babies often gain too much.   He concludes by advising that, “Parents should work closely with their pediatricians to make sure their babies don’t gain too much or too little.  In this case, average is best.”

All in all, it wasn’t worth the hopping.  None of this was exactly news to me and if anything I was surprised at the limited analysis of the results.    However,  it touched on an issue that I feel quite strongly about–the dismal state of affairs regarding breastfeeding in this country and its many implications.

Ironically, on January 20th, just four days before, Surgeon General Regina Benjamin announced the “Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding“.  Outlined clearly in the announcement and its accompanying report are the many benefits of breastfeeding and the attendant health risks of not doing so.  Clearly known in the medical and nursing community is that there are many physical and emotional benefits for both nursing moms and their babies, and that babies who are not breastfed are at  increased risk for diarrhea, ear infections, more serious lower respiratory infections, SIDS, childhood leukemias, asthma, diabetes and obesity.    Lactation experts and women who do breastfeed understand that human milk is species specific for human babies, and its composition perfectly designed for proper and progressive growth.  Mother’s milk changes composition during each feeding as well due to differences in the foremilk and hindmilk and naturally provides nutritional, immunological and satiety factors.

In the introduction to the report, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius writes, “For much of the last century, America’s mothers were given poor advice and were discouraged from breastfeeding to the point that breastfeeding became an unusual choice in this country.”  I appreciated the admission.  Tucked in the report amongst the many reasons for our pathetically low breastfeeding rates  was this paragraph:  “A recent survey of pediatricians showed that many believe the benefits of breastfeeding don’t outweigh the challenges that may be associated with it and report various reasons to recommend against it.”

This seems pretty shocking given the following.  Comparing formula fed babies to those who were breastfed exclusively for four months, the rates of hospitalization for lower respiratory tract infections are 250% greater; for GI infections including diarrhea are 178% greater; and, for necrotizing enterocolitis in premature babies 138% greater for the formula fed babies.  The economic impact of just these three illnesses that breastfeeding can prevent, costs this country 3.6 billion dollars per year.   In cultures where babies have unlimited access to the breast and constant maternal contact, the prevalence of psycho and sociopathic behaviors are very low.  What is the economic cost of  those disorders?

Though the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, this recommendation does not translate into proper education, promotion and support. Hindering the promotion of breastfeeding in this country is the perpetuation of the idea that the decision to breastfeed is a personal one and we should not make women feel guilty for not breastfeeding.  Also, as a non-breastfeeding society for a few generations now, the cultural belief system is that most babies are raised on formula and they are fine.  Additionally, like nutrition, obstetricians and pediatricians– who are best poised to promote this clearly biologically superior milk–may not receive much training on breastfeeding and there is an awkwardness about women and breasts–even in the medical community.

The moment that baby opens it little mouth and receives an artificial milk, it is unwittingly committed to a different path than its breastfed nursery mate.  Immediately, that baby becomes a consumer of a highly and often deceitfully marketed corporate product; is more vulnerable to various illnesses and diseases with short or long term health implications; compromises its innate ability to self regulate feedings, and now in this weighted world, must work with its pediatrician to strive for average.

The health center where I work serves a large and diverse international clientele.  I feel very fortunate to encounter daily a multi-cultural perspective.  Last week, as I was walking past the main waiting area, two young women were nursing their babies.  One woman was Mexican and the other was Burmese.  This was not shy, covered up nursing.  Both, were one breast exposed unabashedly doing what women have been doing for thousands and thousands of years.  Confidently nourishing their young.  How challenging can it be?

In health, Elyn

Related Post:  Breastfeeding Redux

http://www.npr.org/2011/01/24/133110606/some-baby-formulas-may-cause-faster-weight-gain

http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/topics/breastfeeding/calltoactiontosupportbreastfeeding.pdf

My Plate

My Plate Haiku

Pick your own today

Happy kids in wide-brimmed hats

Sweet summertime fruit.

by Nan (my dear friend–whose once happily nursing son is getting married tomorrow.  many blessings.)

 

World Breastfeeding Week

One snowy, frigid day this past winter, in Feeding Things, I wrote about how the birds at my bird feeder were complaining about the milo, millet, cracked seed with oil sunflower seed food that I had given them, squawking that they only liked plain oil sunflower seed. Ingrates, I called them. Who were they to turn up their beaks at my offering in those difficult days when food was scarce?  

Still, I relented. I donned my boots and gloves, precariously positioned the ladder and refilled the feeder with only the plain oil sunflower seed. I should have insisted that they at least try it, which is what you must do with young children who are refusing their vegetables, but instead I chose to view them as lovely guests and extended my hospitality without arguing.

Recently though, the bag of the plain oil sunflower seed was running low, so I decided to blend the milo mix in, kind of like disguising vegetables in sauces for those picky types. For the first few days the feeder sat sadly unattended. It seemed that my fine feathered friends were not amused by my ruse. Now, however, the temperature was hovering near 100 degrees. Even the mere thought of lugging the ladder back out in the heat was too draining, so I ignored the situation.

A few days later, I did see a bird or two come by, but they did not linger. Imagine then my surprise when the next day, I returned home to find the feeder entirely empty. I thought maybe a non-discriminating crow had discovered and devoured the contents or that some other fluke-like occurrence explained the disappearance of the food–so I took the effort to refill the feeder with my carefully proportioned blend once again. Sure enough, this time I saw the birds actively feeding, and the food was once more quickly gone.

In avian fashion, I puffed out my breast, and congratulated myself on my nutritional success–even if it was just for the birds. Unfortunately, my contentment at establishing peace and harmony in the eating world was to be short-lived.

Before my own feathers had even neatly realigned themselves, I came out onto the porch to find teal nibblets of plastic scattered all about. A squirrel had managed to eat its way through the bin that I keep the bird feed in and had feasted with abandon. Scoundrel. This was not the first time I have been one-upped by the squirrel squad. In the past they have actually chewed their way into my house and unearthed stashes of chocolate.

While I was still contemplating the mess on the porch, Chico, the cat, was meowing fiercely. He was displeased with my decision to only offer him wet food in the evening.   Without even leaving home, I was reminded again of the perplexities and complexities of species feeding. What awaited me when I next headed out into the world of humans would only add to the story.

Over the course of the next few days, I had a few experiences that deepened my ponderings. Firstly, I came face to lips with a caffeinated water marketed locally called element. Apparently, its 50 mg of caffeine per 17 oz bottle–equivalent to a Coca Cola–sets one aloft, focused and refined at any time of day without sugars and chemicals. It is not the first caffeinated water on the market, but the newest; and the latest that has me contemplating the consequences of its extending reach. Though I am sensitive to caffeine and thus avoid it, I did take a few sips. Given its propensity for flight, I thought it might be relevant to my work in bird nutrition.

I then had a mind-blowing moment in a nearby new frozen yogurt establishment. I had observed that this place was frequently “spilling onto to the sidewalk” mobbed and sane people I knew were screaming its praises. With out-of-town guests in tow, I ventured in to meet my newest nutritional nemesis.

This was not your grandpa’s frozen yogurt shoppe. With its electric pink walls, I felt like I was in a bar scene from Star Wars. The aliens around me all seemed to think it was quite ordinary to find lightly sweetened tapioca pearls floating in their shaken Bubble Tea with royal creations named Purple Oreo, Yellow Cupcake, Marshmallow Puff, and Chocolate Stout.  Likewise, they seemed confident, sensuously dispensing their own yogurt and slathering it with a myriad of toppings, some of which I had never seen before–such as little roe-like jelly balls filled with various flavors which pop in one’s mouth. Here, the seduction of food had been elevated to an even higher level. It was jaw dropping, or should I say jaw filling, to say the least–and not cheap.

Bubbled up, I stumbled back to the mothership. There in a cramped coffee shop, on the inaugural day of World Breastfeeding Week, I watched a woman struggle to fit some contraption around her shoulders so that she could nurse her baby. Nothing seems straightforward or simple anymore–even the feeding of our young.

So, as I observed in Feeding Things, this is complicated stuff. I can’t even guess what the food world will look like by the time that little nursing baby comes of age or even starts school. Will the challenges for eaters become easier or more difficult?  Will we be assisted in working better with our inherited biology or led further away?  What do you think?

But, what about the newt, Everest, you ask?  He’s still working his way through the same little containers of flakes and pellets.

In health, Elyn

This week, August 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week.  World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every year in more than 170 countries to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world. It commemorates the Innocenti Declaration made by WHO and UNICEF policy-makers in August 1990 to protect, promote and support breastfeeding. Pass the word along.

http://worldbreastfeedingweek.org/

 

my plate

Haiku:  Blueberry bushes/Three children with empty pails/Pluck, pluck, crunch.  Exhale.

By Michael