Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Spring? Please?

There's some serious fog going on outside tonight. It's so thick I almost can't see across the street, which is pretty impressive. Supposedly we should be seeing spring sometime soon, but instead we've been occasionally teased with temperatures high enough to open a window for a few hours juxtaposed against days so cold we're half tempted to go back to hibernating and avoiding the outside world just to be able to pretend to ignore that cold wind.

Unfortunately, this is rarely an option. So we're dealing with the cold, and I'm trying desperately to come to terms with the fact that we're going to have another few inches of snow at the end of the week.

To come out of it, I want badly to plant herbs. I have the pots and soil to do so, but unfortunately I lack a very substantial ingredient: herbs. Turns out if you want to grow things, you sort of need seeds. In lieu of acknowledging this need for seeds (ha ha, ha), I've focused on watching Hubby transform our back room in about 24 hours from an unlivable mountain of assorted junk to a much more manageable and organized couple-of-hills of junk. It's a huge difference, and it's even kid-safe now, so the gate partitioning the back room off from the rest of the house has been lowered, and now the boys have the freedom to roam aaaaaaalmost anywhere they'd like. Minus the office, of course, which is going to stay off-limits so I can keep my sewing things safe, and so Hubby can have someplace to store and assemble his miniatures. And because there are pointy sharp things in there.

However, the mess that was the back room has not-so-kindly migrated to the rest of the house in the form of long-missing dishes, newly-sorted clothing that is making its way back into the rounds, and toys that have been hidden away. It's 50/50 in the long run; one room can be used but every other room in the house has picked up the slack for it.

Hoping for a job soon. Employment here is lacking severely.

Monday, February 21, 2011


I was inspired today to share what I made for food. So you get to deal with it. >:D

This morning for breakfast/early lunch, I made cinnamon/raisin pancakes with whole wheat flour, and Hubby took charge of some bacon and scrambled eggs. We're not a gluten-free, egg-free, vegetarian, or lactose-free family - we enjoy our lactose-laden dairy, our farm-fresh eggs, and massive amounts of gluten. And our meat, oh my god, the meat. Lots of meat, maybe too much meat, in every size and shape and color.

Dinner, on the other hand, was much more complex.

Meet some salmon, spices (salt, pepper, red pepper, parsley, paprika, minced garlic), saltines, onion, and egg in a container. You will probably recognize it as a plastic Country Crock butter container, and you would be correct - that is EXACTLY what it is. I can't usually get anybody around here to eat any type of fish that isn't tilapia or fish sticks around here without a fight, and only recently has Hubby decided that maybe other non-white fishes aren't completely evil, so I haven't had a good salmon patty that hasn't been made at my mom's house in years. I miss them.

So tonight they became dinner.

I mixed the crap out of that, with my hands of course.

Then I worked on my side dish: rice and red beans. Simple, but tasty, and something we have NEVER had here. I mean, seriously. Ever.

Yes, we have a rice cooker, thanks to my mom! I've honestly never used it before, but Hubby has; in fact, it's the only thing he uses now to cook rice in. I don't blame him. It did a great job. Anyway.

Above, you will meet something Hubby affectionately calls "chicken Jell-o." I hate that term, but I can't argue. It's a little less viscous, but otherwise acts and looks identical to Jell-o, it's just made from chicken instead. Hubby makes this stuff from the chicken we go get when it's on sale - legs and thighs, usually, for super-cheap because they're on sale. He sticks them in a deep pan with some water and spices and basically bakes them in a brine for hours on end until the chicken's falling off the bone. We reap several benefits from this: 1) Cheap chicken in massive amounts that we can reuse however we please during the next week or so, 2) rendered chicken fat to use with things as we please, and 3) this "chicken Jell-o" that, when mixed about half and half with water, makes an amazing chicken stock replacement that is MUCH cheaper than buying prepackaged stock in the store - and we know where all the ingredients came from, and exactly what's in it!

Anyway, instead of using packaged chicken stock, since we don't have any, or plain water, I mixed water with this chicken Jell-o to make our own chicken stock to give the rice some extra flavor and spice.

This is the homemade butter I've mentioned before. We make it with organic cream a half-pint at a time; oddly enough, organic cream is actually cheaper at our local store than regular cream. Figure that one out. Anyway, this is fresh, unsalted butter. It's harder than the typical tub or even stick butter that we're used to, but it tastes amazing and is always super-fresh. When properly rinsed after making, and drained of buttermilk, it's lasts for quite some time.

This is eventually what became of the rice and beans. I rinsed the beans before adding them to prevent the addition of too much sodium, and too much extra unnecessary liquid. I put in parsley, paprika, our homemade butter, some salt, pepper, and a little bit of green pepper flake. It tasted great, although Hubby and I both agreed afterwards that it needed more salt. Even G sat and ate some, about half a serving, without too much prompting!

Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of what became of the salmon patties. Everybody was starving, and I had no intention of further delaying food when the general consensus was that We. Needed. To. Eat.

So, there you have it.

Tomorrow we're going to talk carriers.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


All right, ladies. It's time we discussed something very personal, something that only we struggle with. Something that we have to sit down and have a talk with our daughters about (well, I assume that's how it works; I never got that talk and I've no daughters). It's something that can make us into a raging maniac or a crying pile of unhappy. No, it isn't chocolate. Or Robert Downey Jr.

Let's talk about periods.

I grew up using pads, and got to figure out tampons on my own. I hated pads - always did, probably always will - because as a big woman, it was hard to keep those damn sticky tabs in place. The moment I would sweat, the tabs came unstuck, and the rest of the pad usually followed close behind. They bunched and scrunched no matter how or when I wore them, regardless of size or intended absorbency. They didn't last long enough, and I was in a state of constant worry that they would leak out - which is when I turned to the tampons.

Tampons were great, in comparison! They didn't leak as frequently and I knew that bunching up and unreliable sticky adhesive were no longer a factor in my period comfort. I had the ability to finally bleed for seven days without dying and not be completely uncomfortable, if you didn't count the fact that I could rarely get them positioned right, and the fact that the larger sizes I was forced to use thanks to a heavy flow (TMI, anyone?) carried a far more significant risk of toxic shock syndrome. Of course, like a lot of women, I was an irresponsible user: I rarely changed them when I was supposed to, often left them in too long, and likely used much larger sizes all the time than was necessary. I ignored how yucky they eventually made me feel, and the constant discomfort of having them improperly placed (which, by the way, I blamed on an inability to put them in right - without thinking that tampons were not designed for EVERYONE'S comfort in mind). I learned to think of tampons as science's gift to womenkind, despite my issues, and used them for years on end.

Then, after my period returned once A was born, something strange started to happen.

Tampons became uncomfortable beyond a doubt. I could no longer get them to sit so that I couldn't feel them, well, bulging out. Size and absorbency were irrelevant to my plight; nothing fit, nothing worked, nothing was comfortable. Even stranger, using them made me feel ill. Not throw-up-and-die ill, but mildly feverish, mildly nauseated. I only felt this way within an hour or so of putting in a tampon, and if I removed it, in just as long I would feel better. It was the strangest thing, a phenomenon I couldn't possibly explain: my body's chemistry had changed enough that I could no longer wear a tampon.

This was a problem.

Coincidentally, I had just begun looking into alternative options for taking care of myself during this longest portion of the month. Options were pretty limited; fewer (or no) periods thanks to hormone birth control was not an option, as I'd had a number of unpleasant experiences with every one I had tried, never mind the fact that the idea of nixing a period entirely felt more than a little wrong. I could get and tried using reusable cloth pads, or "mama cloth", and while I didn't particularly dislike them, and they did manage to overcome the problem of dysfunctional adhesive, they still slid all over the place because of the snap fastening, only came in one absorbency choice, and were not half as absorbent as I would have liked - never mind the fact that they did not soak in as quickly as disposables did. I had cut out the angle of toxins and the impact of disposable pads on the environment, but had brought in a totally new angle of problems I had to deal with.

Then, I heard about DivaCups.

Okay, I won't lie. I had heard about them a few years ago, and laughed. The idea of having to shove uncomfortable-looking latex cups into my body, then dump and wash them after usage, disgusted me. I looked at them as a huge hassle, and was positive that they could in no way make my life any easier or better. They were unattractive, and I couldn't imagine for the life of me justifying spending $40 - if not more - on a single product, even if it was reusable, and even then it needed to be replaced yearly (or so). I saw it as a massive drain on my budget, without thinking about the obvious - the cost of a box, or two, of tampons, which I could easily go through in one cycle.

Then, it slowly came to me.

A single box of tampons cost me around $10 a month. That was $120 a year, and I often used more than one box in a cycle (or was guilty of buying multi-packs that had different sizes in each, but I'd never use all the sizes). Add in occasional pads, worn at night, and that price was jacked up to $140 a year. A single DivaCup and the wash for it (which I've never used, by the way) was all of $50 - less than half the price. Even being replaced once a year, and occasionally buying more of the wash (which I assume normal people do, haha), it's still less expensive than tampons.

Hey, wait, that makes sense.

Usage was a bit more of an issue for me. I am a bigger woman, so it's a bit harder sometimes to reach around properly. I won't lie, it took a couple of usages for me to get it inserted properly and comfortably, but once I got that part down, it was a breeze to insert and remove. I think it takes a unique position for every woman to get it in just right, and there's nothing wrong with that. It took me a while to figure it out, but I got it, and now it's easy to do. Cleaning is still a bit of a pain, and I won't lie and say it's done without mess, but it's an improvement over how it was when I first started using the DivaCup.

So now I throw away less money during the month and year. I use it easily, can use it day or night, and never have to worry about leaks staining my clothing. There's no smell, no difficult cleanup or laundering involved, and it's COMFORTABLE. In fact, I typically forget I'm even using it unless I specifically think about it - and best of all, if I leave it in a few extra hours on accident, or because I have to, I don't have to worry about potentially poisoning myself. No big deal, just empty it out and wash it when I can, then reinsert and go again. No bunching, no staining, no discomfort. The DivaCup is perfect, everything I ever could have asked for, and it makes me feel good to use it, too.

So, go get one and give it a go. Visit the DivaCup site and get the one that's right for you and give it a try. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A lack of posts

I have probably three posts, now, sitting in my drafts, waiting desperately for me to come back to them. With any luck, this post won't end up there, too - either way, I owe an apology to those who've begun reading or following and are wondering why I haven't posted recently. So I'd like to take a moment to discuss something serious, something that I feel DOES require medical intervention, treatment, and follow-up care. I promise I'll be brief, as I don't want to stand on my soapbox for too long.

I have clinical depression. I've struggled with my emotions, and with extreme downs, for as long as I can remember. Things that would not seriously upset or bother one person set me off immediately and for quite a while. I didn't have many close friends during high school, and at the time my boyfriend (now Hubby) lived 1600 miles away from me. It was tough on us emotionally and mentally; if you add in the "stresses" of school, the musicals and plays and band rehearsals and trips and everything else that my musically-centered life revolved around, well, you can maybe see how things were kind of tough. Add in that my mom struggled with a lot of similar problems (though with inarguably less-positive outcomes), and I saw and experienced her problems every day, and the fact that we just didn't TALK about these things, well... It was a recipe for disaster, in every way. I didn't talk, I didn't express myself. I learned to bottle up problems and feelings and project my issues inward.

Everything that happened (or didn't happen, but should have) became a path of regret, a mental self-immolation to try to resolve my problems. I was emo in every sense of the word, except for my clothing.

Tack on a total lack of self-confidence that I still struggle with (I have stretch marks on the inside of my elbows, and during theater class one day a much-beloved teacher looked at them and asked me in front of everyone if I was cutting - imagine what THAT did to me), and yeah, I had a plethora of problems, many of which still exist.

I struggled with postpartum depression after G was born, but managed to hold it in and deal with it via sleepless nights, crying a lot, and convincing myself that someday I'd feel better. It honestly didn't occur to me that my untreated but diagnosed problems with depression - issues I didn't really want to confront - had thrown my PPD out of control and made it nearly impossible to deal with. I survived, somehow, maybe through a miracle, but after A arrived I finally "manned up" and acknowledged my emotional state. It wasn't easy, nor was it fun, to admit to my OB during a postpartum checkup that I was a total disaster mentally, had contemplated suicide (but was "too chicken" to follow through), and had thought half-seriously about leaving my little family. I knew, inwardly, that none of those things would help, or make anything easier, but when you're depressed, you don't exactly consider what your brain is trying to tell you. Most of the time, your brain's opinion doesn't matter much, because there is a much larger, much more sinister voice that occupies your thoughts. It's hard not to listen to, and ignoring it doesn't make it go away - in fact, most of the time, ignoring it only makes it louder.

I was prescribed Lexapro to try to help me stabilize some of my thoughts and moods to a point where I could reason through it. I won't argue, taking a medication to feel human again isn't necessarily fun. I call them happy pills only mostly lovingly, because you take them hoping that maybe they'll make you less miserable, or make life "suck less", even though you know that's illogical and isn't how it works - but man, you hope. And yes, when it doesn't work out that way, you get disappointed. Who wouldn't want to take a little pill once a day and have everything get better? If that was the option, and let's be honest here, wouldn't you take it if it seriously worked?

But it doesn't work that way. The caveat here is that while medication might make it easier to deal with my problems and feelings, and easier to talk my way logically through my issues, it only does those things when I take it. I have not been taking my medication at all regularly, and I think that taking it only occasionally is almost worse than never taking it at all, because you have the sudden ups and downs of having it suddenly reintroduced into your system, then working it all back out again, over and over again. You feel bipolar, almost, and that makes you a little more insane in some ways because you have great days where you can tackle your problems and make sense of the world, and the next week you just wish you'd die in a corner where nobody could bother you or remind you that life is awful and you have no real way to fix any of your problems.

Yes, I have problems. A lot of aspects of my life are painful and difficult to deal with, and a good portion of it is out of my hands to the point where all I can do is kick and scream and maybe even pray that things will get better at some point. But there are just as many, if not more, aspects that are completely within my control, I just choose not to acknowledge that because I give myself the false impression that brief improvement is better than feeling good in the long term.

So, there you have it. I am depressed, and I need to manage it properly, and I'm not. I don't want to give the impression that somehow this is a catch-all excuse for me, but I do feel I owe my readers and followers an explanation for my erratic posting, and the promise that I am putting effort into managing my depression appropriately.

Much love to everyone, and if you feel that you or a loved one is struggling with chronic depression, please don't be afraid to step up. Sometimes when you're depressed, all you need to hear is that someone cares to acknowledge that maybe something is wrong.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Hectic weekends

We've taken to watching my semi-niece (brother-in-law's wife's sister's daughter) who is a month older than G. They get along famously, playing dress up and pretending to be monsters and torturing A. It's great because E (said semi-niece!) bosses G around like nobody's business. This is what he's usually doing to A, so it's amusing to watch him finally get the short end of the stick (and in all honesty, they get along really well otherwise, so I'm willing to let it go).

Oh, yeah.

Anyway, they play all sorts of things together, and they seem to get along pretty well. Add in the fact that we get paid for watching her, and I think things work out pretty well in the end.

This, however, is not the excuse I have for not posting in a few days. The excuse is actually that I've been working on items for my store, Happy Zombie Studios, which is accessible on Facebook. I'll admit that I have a bit of a beef with Facebook right now, because they've been deleting the pictures and profiles of breastfeeding moms and lactivists, and, well, it's getting old. Really old. Just a few minutes ago, in fact, I saw another loss pop up on my newsfeed, via another mom, a woman whose page was deleted because she had reposted a removed picture of breastfeeding twins. Oh, no. Darn you, ladies, don't you dare think about feeding your children the most natural, best food out there. Stop that. But please do wiggle your boobies at the admins on the way out, they'd like that.


Anyway, HZS is something I've been working on for a while now. The name first popped up some four years ago while we were living in another apartment just after G was born, during a game night, and I don't remember the story anymore but at the time it was hilarious. HSZ was born as a joke that evening, but the idea was constantly in the back of my head. Hubby and I joked here and there about what we'd use it as - a front for a mob organization, a way to spread our evil ways throughout the world ("grow your own damn veggies!"), and a menagerie of other things, but I never really thought anything would come of it.

Then one day I was walking through our local mall before Christmas and saw that someone had set up a lovely little horseshoe of tables littered with metric tons of baby items, most of which were pre-packaged baby hats and headbands that they were selling for several dollars more than the purchase price. I balked at them, because I had seen the individual products they were actually using in the store, and I knew where they had come from - and how much they had cost. I shook my head, frowned, and wondered if I could do that, too.

After all, I'm not known for matching colors.

But lo and behold, it turns out I'm at least halfway capable, because I'm not only assembling cute headbands and hats, but I'm also loom knitting hats for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. Heck, I can make them for adults. I can make them for anybody. And oddly enough, I'm even selling them.

So please consider this to be my shout out to my fans and followers: I have a store! Go buy things!

Back to our regularly scheduled crunch next week.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Feeling the ache

Today has been an interesting day.

Earlier G's finger got shut in our office door because Hubby couldn't see him. A call to his pediatrician's office got predictable advice: because his thumb was swelling, and the skin was very taut and red, it would be better to err on the side of caution. So in we went, and after a surprisingly short wait, a couple of x-rays (for which he was SO still and attentive), and a lot of watching of Bubble Guppies on the Nintendo DS thanks to Hubby, it was concluded that nothing is broken, but using a splint for the next day or two couldn't hurt anything, and he'll probably have some problems with pain and swelling for the next week or two.

Better than the alternatives. That kid has had too many serious injuries as it is.

Thankfully, G was pretty impressed with the whole ordeal, and informed everyone he came into contact with (and some people who were more than five feet away) what his entire name is, how old he is, and what, exactly, happened to cause him to be at the hospital. That last part consisted of, "Daddy shut my finger in a door! Then he put an ice pack on my thumb! Then I got a shower, and that helped too!" I'm fairly sure he'd give a play-by-play of his entire day to people in the store if I let him.

That boy is such a trooper.

Today improved in that I've eaten all of the equivalent of a chicken thigh, a serving of mashed potatoes and gravy, half a cup of macaroni and cheese, five chocolate truffles (shhh), a handful of potato chips, a biscuit, a couple glasses of water and a glass of orange juice. All of that does not make a day's worth of meals, obviously, and I ought to note that I didn't eat ANY of that until past 2PM, as G and I weren't back home to Hubby and A until more like 3. And I didn't want to eat in the first place.

I have a horrible headache, I feel lightheaded and dizzy, and I'm nauseated by the thought of food. The orange juice was recent, too, so I know the rest of this isn't a problem with blood sugar. Sigh.

So tonight I offer a post from Peaceful Parenting on an awesome Boston-area mom who birthed her first child, a 13 pound baby boy. Four hours of labor and ten minutes of pushing. Way to rock it, and show all those naysayers who claim that size is a problem!

Hopefully I'll have something more interesting to say tomorrow. Whew.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


Hubby headed down to my mother's house (all of a block away) to help her with her computer, and returned with a half-pint of cream. It was originally purchased for my mother for her to use, to make scones I think, but was sent back with Hubby for us to use to make butter.

Hell, yes.

Making butter out of your own cream is incredibly easy, but insanely taxing. Pour into a container and shake the crap out of it, past the stage where you think you're making whipped cream, past the stage where it's starting to look like still-white butter, past the stage where you're losing feeling in your arms and are pretty sure that if you shake the container anymore, you're going to accidentally let go and it'll fly across the room. Getting to that point required me shaking for probably a good six or seven minutes, then passing off the container to G for him to shake it for all of half a minute and then hand it back, then giving it to Hubby to have him take over and actually achieve the goal of making some butter.

The downside is that making butter requires rinsing it afterwards and making sure it's entirely free of the buttermilk that's left over from the forming process. The other downside is that if you add some sea salt to make salted butter, it doesn't take much salt to make it over-salted butter. Plus side? All you have to do is add more butter to balance it out.

Of course, I'm now out of cream.

So after the Superbowl is over (yes, I'm watching; no, I don't care about football; yes, I only watch for the halftime show and the commercials), I'm going to head out to the store to procure our first gallon of organic milk, and way too much cream, and when I come home I'm going to make way more butter.

With the blender.

Sing like nobody's listening, love like you've never been hurt, dance like nobody's watching.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Tuckered out

Well, it's late - almost 10PM here in Central Time Zone land. G is snoozing away happily in our bed tonight, where Hubby took him; A was asleep there too, but he hates being left in bed alone, even when he has his brother around to use him as a plushie, so he toddled his way back out of our room not long after I got home from helping my mother out at her house. Now he's peacefully sleeping in my lap, Hubby is in the kitchen experimenting once again with something edible, and I'm hanging out on the couch, working on ribbons and bows for my store, contemplating finishing A's hat that I'm loom knitting, and generally feeling completely worn out and achy from all the shoveling that had to be done the last couple of days. I have muscles that ache that I didn't know existed, or at least I wasn't aware of their exact location, but trust me, now I know where they are. Oh, I know.

So in lieu of a super-long post like I've been doing, I want to toss up a couple of things.

First order of business, I've asked someone I've been following on Facebook for a while now, Kristine McCormick, to write a guest post sometime soon for me. She's the amazingly strong visionary of a mom to the beautiful and terribly missed Miss Cora, and thanks to Kristine, the Indiana legislature is working on passing through a bill that would help ensure that babies born there are all given a pulse ox screening before being released from care. I know, it seems counterintuitive that a mom who is a vocal proponent of natural birthing and parenting would actually WANT another intervention, but to me, this is "one of those things" - a screening that's quick and easy, painless and unobtrusive, and is something that can be done by an OB in a hospital setting or a midwife after a homebirth. I don't want to get into it too much now, because I believe firmly that sharing her vision is for Kristine to do and not for me, but I want to warn you, dear readers, that this is coming and I DO expect you to read, consider, and think this through.

Second of all, another blog I follow (it's on the sidebar!), This Side of Crunchy, has a great post up today about supporting and helping to better shape legislation on moms breastfeeding and/or pumping at work. This is SERIOUS stuff here and she has linked to a great opportunity for moms who have had to return to work while still breastfeeding or providing breastmilk to speak out as to how the laws pertaining to this issue could be better serving them. PLEASE go check it out, leave your commentary in the appropriate places, and then thank Crunchy Mama for posting this. Go! Do it!

With that being said, for now I bid you all goodnight, and I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. Never forget that life is precious and short. Make every moment count.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Surviving Snowpocalypse 2011

Well, the Snowpocalypse is officially over, and by some miracle we've survived it. Our internet is actually down at the moment, but luckily, our phones are able to be used as portable modems, and since our area was recently graced with 3G access by AT&T, we actually can function at a reasonable speed. I'm impressed, and glad that Hubby remembered we can do that!

So besides the massive amount of snow, I've been delving into the realm of organic/raw food recently. A while back, we tried some organic milk - we balked at the price but figured it would be worth the change. Unfortunately, it spoiled pretty quickly, for no good reason from what I could tell (fridge settings were fine, etc), and that was our first (and last) dive into the world of organic milk. I never really looked into it, though, or made any real attempt to actually learn about organic milk and how it differs from regular milk past the obvious few things (the cows are likely grass-fed, no chemicals are used on their feed or on the cows).

So a quick Google search led me here, and let me tell you, for being the first site that pops up when you search, and I quote, "differences between regular milk and organic milk", this pretty much sucks. Yes, I said it. The general consensus of this site is that there are probably fewer chemicals and hormones used on the cows that produce milk that ends up labeled "organic" but in the long run, since both types of milk have to conform to government standards anyway, they're basically the same thing. Well, hell, if I wanted someone to tell me they were the same and neither was better than the other, for upwards of an extra two dollars a gallon, you can bet I'm going to be buying regular milk. Obviously my question has not been answered, so time to go a little farther.

My next hit: the National Dairy Council's PDF "Organic Milk FAQ". Sounds promising enough, except that the first phrase is, "In terms of quality, safety and nutrition, there’s no difference between organic and
regular milk.  Both contain the same combination of nutrients that make dairy foods
an important part of a healthy diet." ... You have to be kidding me. So, even according to the National Dairy Council, there's no difference between the two types of milk, except that organic milk happens to be much more expensive? It does note later on that, "The definition of organic milk refers to farm management practices, not to the milk itself." Which makes sense, I guess, except the differences in question are as follows: "Organic dairy foods must additionally meet the requirements of USDA's National Organic Program.  This includes using only organic fertilizers and pesticides, and not using rbST." Meaning that farmers whose milk is certified as organic aren't using dangerous chemicals on the cows or their feed, and aren't supplementing cows with artificial hormones to keep up their milk supply.

I think I'm finally getting somewhere.

Now, let me put a little disclaimer here: I'm no medical professional or scientist. My mother works in a hospital in their pharmacy and is a registered LPN in our state, and while I've been an appendage to the medical community my entire life and probably know a tad more than the average person, I'm certainly no expert. I don't know much about artificial hormones or the exact problems and side effects traced to certain chemicals. All I have going for me is my common sense and my Ghd (Google doctorate, haha), but the latter provides me and a host of other people with the ability to find out the exact repercussions of using too many chemicals, or prolonged exposure to, say, rbST. So let's learn a bit more about rbST in particular.

A search for "rbST hormone" takes me first and foremost to Wikipedia. I realize that a researcher has to be careful referencing Wikipedia; I remember all too well that because it can be publicly edited by anyone that educational institutions don't allow it to be referenced in official papers. At the same time, though, I believe that this public editing option makes Wikipedia USUALLY very reliable and up-to-date, something a good portion of other sites can't claim to be, since Wikipedia can be updated immediately with the most recent information, oftentimes within seconds or minutes of a new release of information or event.

That being said, the Wikipedia page on rbST is pretty straightforward. Monsanto first synthesized it using recombinant DNA technology, named it "Posilac", and that got sold off to yet another pharmaceutical company (namely, Eli Lilly and Company). Oh, and, "The United States is the only developed nation to permit humans to drink milk from cows given artificial growth hormone. Posilac was banned from use in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and all European Union countries (currently numbering 27), by 2000 or earlier."

Wait, WHAT?

Yeah, I guess I read that correctly. Posilac was banned by 27 other countries, but for whatever reason, the United States still thinks it's okay for usage in our dairy supply. Remember, it isn't just milk - because all that milk, organic or otherwise, is used to make like-labeled dairy products. So all of the non-organic cheese, pudding, butter, cream, yogurt, instant/evaporated/condensed milk products, plus the hundreds of other dairy products I DIDN'T list, all use milk that has Posilac - rbST - in it, unless the retailer or creator has specifically chosen NOT to use milk from cows treated with rbST (and unless the product happens to mention it on the label, you have no way of knowing if rbST has been used or not). I wonder what on earth made 27 other first-world countries - you know, the entire EU and then some - decide that Posilac is dangerous?

Back to the Wikipedia page, and as a warning, I'm about to be pasting a LOT of stuff all at once (any added emphasis is mine).

"On September 30, 2010, a U.S. court of appeal found based on studies presented that there is a "compositional difference" between milk from rBSG-treated cows and untreated milk. The court found that studies have shown that rBST milk has: increased levels of the hormone IGF-1; lower nutritional quality when produced at certain points in the cow's lactation cycle; and more pus in the milk (increased somatic cell counts), which "make the milk turn sour more quickly and is another indicator of poor milk quality."

Use of BST is controversial primarily due to concerns over potential effects on animal and human health.

Animal health
Two meta-analyses have been published on rBST's effects on bovine health. Findings indicated an average increase in milk output ranging from 11%-16%, a nearly 25% increase in the risk of clinical mastitis, a 40% reduction in fertility and 55% increased risk of developing clinical signs of lameness. The same study reported a decrease in body condition score for cows treated with rBST even though there was an increase in their dry matter intake.
A European Union scientific commission was asked to report on the incidence of mastitis and other disorders in dairy cows and on other aspects of the welfare of dairy cows. The commission's statement, subsequently adopted by the European Union, stated that the use of rBST substantially increased health problems with cows, including foot problems, mastitis and injection site reactions, impinged on the welfare of the animals and caused reproductive disorders. The report concluded that, on the basis of the health and welfare of the animals, rBST should not be used. Health Canada prohibited the sale of rBST in 1999; the external committees found that, although there was no significant health risk to humans, the drug presents a threat to animal health, and, for this reason, cannot be sold in Canada.

Human health
Human health concerns centre around three areas:

  • rBST and its byproducts
  • increased levels of IGF
  • secondary effects, e.g. the increased use of antibiotics to treat mastitis

IGF is produced by the cow in response to BGH injections, and it is this hormone which increases growth and milk production. Bovine and porcine IGF-I are identical to human IGF-I, while IGF-II differs among animal species.
IGF plays a role in the formation of new tumours and increased levels of IGF-1 may be linked to increased risk of breast, colon, and prostate cancer. However IGF is involved in many biological processes so it is not possible to assign a clear-cut cause and effect relationship. IGF-1 is not denatured by pasteurisation, so consumption of milk from rBST treated dairy cows will increase the daily intake of IGF-I.
Further association of IGF with breast cancer was provided by a 20-year epidemiological study begun in 1976, which was published in 1997."

So let's see if I'm understanding this properly. The National Dairy Council specifically states that there is absolutely no difference between the nutritional properties of regular milk and organic milk, and that neither is any more or less safe or healthy than the other, yet the use of rbST in regular milk (not all, but without labeling, you have no idea whether or not rbST has been used on the cows that the milk came from) is CLEARLY detrimental to not only the health of the animals it's used on, but on the humans that consume the milk and milk byproducts. And let me speak from experience on the mastitis side of things: I've had mastitis. I nursed through it, hallucinated through a very high fever, and ended up on some serious antibiotics to try to get rid of it (and soy lecithin to rid the subsequent blockages associated with it). It sucked beyond anything I could describe to someone who has never experienced it before, and when someone says that they stopped or almost stopped nursing because of a bout of mastitis, while I'm saddened, I understand. Mastitis is a bitch, a very painful and unyielding bitch. And I would not wish that upon a person, much less a poor cow.

I feel like somebody's lying somewhere (and I don't think it's Wikipedia).

So, basically, cattle treated with rbST make rather nasty pus-milk that has rbST secreted into it that we end up consuming ourselves.

There's no way in hell I can be okay with continuing to feed this to my family.

On to organic milk we go.