It Does A Body Good

10 06 2011

I maintain a long and growing list of business ideas I have titled rather simply (and regrettably) Things I Wish I Had Thought Of (with apologies for that dangling preposition). I bet you have one, too (a list, not dangling prepositions). These are the things that, upon reading about them, reach out from the printed word and slap you upside the face. “What have you been doing, Einstein? This was waiting out there for you to pick.”

Ah, yes. Low-hanging fruit. We tend to focus on the top branches, while there is often plenty to be had just for the taking. But today’s story is about a booming business I don’t mind having missed.

Kind of like what has been going on quietly in the niche market for human breast milk. Unless you were hatched from an egg or created in a Petri dish, your mother produced plenty of this stuff. As for the Moms among my readers, you, too, have contributed to the supply.

And now that there’s a big movement afoot to feed baby naturally, there is now market demand.

Sure, the mere mention of human breast milk may raise eyebrows. We’re just not that comfortable with it yet in the US. Never mind that we humans are the only species on the planet that regularly consumes milk (albeit it from cows and goats) beyond infancy. Or, as my topic-contributing friend and colleague Dr. Kris Drumheller said, “If nothing else, it is good for making everyone squirm, especially the males.”

Yeah. No kidding.

Never mind that this is just as natural as breathing, dying, relieving oneself. It’s just that…guys, help me out here…Hey, how ’bout them Mavs?

Still, I was shocked to read that human breast milk fetches up to $5 an ounce, making today’s gas prices seem like the bargain of the century. But more shocking is that some enterprising women are selling…yes, SELLING…their breast milk. Heck, at $5 an ounce, you could send junior to college.

Stranger still is the husband-and-wife run Only The Breast website that brings buyers and producers together. The duo plans to monetize their business by selling ads. There the prices tend to run a lot lower, mostly in the $1 to $2.50 an ounce range. Maybe those Moms are only planning to send junior to community college.

As much as this may be a hot new niche business, there are important issues to be raised. One is that the FDA does not regulate breast milk, as it is considered a food. All other human fluids and body parts are regulated, but there is no agency overseeing the distribution of human milk. Buyers have no way of knowing whether the milk they buy came from a healthy woman, or if it will cause problems for their child. Sure, humans may have been cross-nursing for years, but that doesn’t make it healthy. And if I were buying this stuff (squirming the whole time, mind you), I’d be wondering if the seller weren’t just a druggie in need of cash.

And what of the ethics of selling something so much a part of oneself, something to be shared intimately between mother and child? I would never think of selling any part of me, even my plasma. Donating, maybe. Selling? Not a chance. Humans are not factories to be self-harvested.

Still, the business side of this has me in awe. In spite of my disagreeing with it in principle, there is a certain industriousness at play here that I can only admire. The human business spirit is indefatigable, and the free market of ideas will continue to produce new concepts that are profitable. Even if they do give me the willies.

But nothing that a nice cold glass of soy milk won’t calm.

Dr “And Some Oreos” Gerlich

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