Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Breast Milk Dilemma

Our white chick group is getting more diverse as we add to the discussion with a Haitian (black, she says, I am black even though her Dominican driver´s license has her listed as √Źndio¨because, well, they won´t call you black here as they figure that no one wants to be ¨Black¨) And one Canadian-Philipino, educated in London. We have named ourselves the ¨transnational hybrids¨.

We have the ongoing bean discussion. And have added the breast milk discussion.

Many of you will remember that the Nestle Company - a multinational out of Switzerland- was taken before the World Court in the Hague for promoting the use of their infant formula over breast milk in Africa. It was an ugly story - they were held responsible for the deaths of thousands. Now, on the Nestle web page, there is a frank promotion of breast milk for the first six months of life.

Yet in the campo here, the women save every can of formula that their children consume during the first year- At the end to the year, they take a picture of the baby with the cans of formula lined up behind. So what is that about? Breast milk is safer, more nutritious, provides needed antibodies. Most of these women are poor by Dominican standards which is extremely poor by US standards. Why spend the money when nature has provided something even better?

I went with my friend and her new born to the Doctor´s office to get her vaccines and questioned the doctor about it.

"Because that shows how much money the father has given her. Most of them are not married. Many of the father´s have lots of children by lots of women. The formula cans show how much money he has given her, how much he loves her, what a good provider he is."

And why not just give the money? For her food or rent?
¨"Because the only thing that they will give the money for is the formula."

It seems that there is always a back story.

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