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I’m Sierra. I live in the Boston area with my family.

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The Great Milk Debate

by Sierra on November 25, 2003 · 0 comments

in Uncategorized

It all started when my sweetie came home one day, almost two months ago now, with a week’s worth of groceries. Fresh veggies, soups, noodles, fruit, and several boxes of soy milk. All of this is normal. What was not normal was what was missing: the dairy milk.

“I don’t think you should drink cow’s milk anymore,” he said. “It has dioxins in it.”

“Dioxins?” Forgive my ignorance. The last time I had heard dioxins mentioned was when the same sweetie accidentally melted down a plastic mixing bowl in our oven at Summer Solstice.

“Dioxins are carcinogenic. They settle on the grass and then the cows eat the grass and then they build up in the fat cells in milk. You shouldn’t drink them. You could get cancer.”

I thought about this, seriously, for at least .4 seconds.

“Well, cancer is bad, but starvation is worse. Milk please.”

That was the end of that. Yogurt was the only thing that didn’t make me puke for weeks, and it was abundant. There were no complaints.

Lately, it’s started up again. I’m eating more normally now, but I’m still having food drama — anything that tastes too complex nauseates me, and I’m constantly hungry. I’m tired of eating so many snacks, and no one seems to think my increased appetite is cute and funny anymore. On top of that, there’s this “Are you sure you’re not drinking too much milk?” thing.

I am not drinking too much milk. I’m actually starting to get really worried that I’m not drinking ENOUGH milk, or getting enough protein. Last night I tried to talk to my sweetie about it. I asked him to look over this pregnancy diet guide and tell me if he thought I was eating enough. He agreed that I wasn’t, and that I wasn’t getting the reccomended 6-8 servings of protein. We argued over whether I was getting four servings of milk: I was convinced that I wasn’t, he was convinced that I was. The whole thing escalated into a big drama about the dioxins again, and I, realizing I was bing ridiculous, excused myself and went to bed. This morning I apologized and went to work, where I had to call him about something else. While we were on the phone, he told me he’s researching the dioxin issue, and wanted to impress upon me the dangers of continuing to drink milk while pregnant. We got into another nasty fight which ended with me in tears at my desk and him saying he refused to speak to me about this anymore until he had all the information he needed to prove his case.

The thing is, I don’t want him to prove his case. I don’t care. I mean, yes, it sucks that big companies are polluting the air I breathe with scary carcinogenic chemicals, and I chose to be with an activist who cares about those things as much as I do. I’d love it if he wrote to his Congressmen about tougher air pollution laws, or started boycotting dioxin-conatining plastics or went out and picketed the local culprits.

But this permutation of the crusade is hurting me. I know that women give birth to healthy babies in this city every day who have drunk far more milk than I do. Women give birth to healthy babies who have been eating meat, which is far higher dioxin levels, by the sweetie’s own admission. In fact, he said that not a single study showed actual negative health impacts on developing human fetuses because of the presence of dioxin in a healthy diet (as opposed to dioxins used as chemical weapons or near industrial accidents). I feel like I’m scared that I’m not getting enough to eat and the worst thing is having the person I love who is supposed to be my primary support throughout this baby-making project is acting in ways that make me feel ashamed and fucked up about feeding myself one of the most essential nutrients in my diet.

Every time this comes up, I wind up in tears or close to it. I can’t seem to communicate to him how much I care about my diet right now, how protective I feel about the food sources that are really nourishing to me. Or how important it is to have his support for these choices.

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