Category Archives: Food and Drink

Faith In Breasts

A nice example of entwined medicine, faith, social status, and care showing:

I made the mistake of idly musing about breast-feeding to a group of new mothers I’d just met. This time around, I said, I was considering cutting it off after a month or so. At this remark, the air of insta-friendship we had established cooled into an icy politeness, …

In my playground set, the urban moms in their tight jeans and oversize sunglasses size each other up using a whole range of signifiers: organic content of snacks, sleekness of stroller, ratio of tasteful wooden toys to plastic. But breast-feeding is the real ticket into the club. …

One day, … I noticed a 2001 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association open to an article about breast-feeding: “Conclusions: There are inconsistent associations among breastfeeding, its duration, and the risk of being overweight in young children.” Inconsistent? … I called my doctor friend for her password to an online medical library, and then sat up and read dozens of studies examining breast-feeding’s association …

After a couple of hours, the basic pattern became obvious: the medical literature looks nothing like the popular literature. It shows that breast-feeding is probably, maybe, a little better; … A couple of studies will show fewer allergies, and then the next one will turn up no difference. Same with mother-infant bonding, IQ, leukemia, cholesterol, diabetes. Even where consensus is mounting, the meta studies—reviews of existing studies—consistently complain about biases, missing evidence, and other major flaws in study design.

Hat Tip to Alex.

Added 8:30am:  adina and Yvian make good points, so I'm persuaded: it does look like breast feeding has given substantial benefits.  Though note that a Brian comments at MR that formula has recently improved to greatly reduce the difference.

Added 11:20am: Alex privately points me to this rather damning critique of that supposed 6 point IQ gain study.

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Evaporated Cane Juice

The ingredient list of Trader Joe's Brand Spinach Pizza includes "Organic Evaporated Cane Juice (Natural Milled Cane Sugar)."  Just as grinding up oranges makes "orange juice", grinding up sugar cane plants makes "cane juice."  To get sugar, you evaporate this to get rid of the water.  

What fraction of folks who read such ingredient lists could really fooled by calling sugar "evaporated cane juice", especially when it is called "sugar" more directly just a few words later?  Could the gain from fooling this few really outweigh the loss of respect from all the other readers Trader Joe's should suffer?

My guess is that other readers are not much offended because they enjoy feeling superior to the fools mislead by such ingredient wordings.  The warm glow from feeling superior outweighs any lack of respect, or feeling insulted, and on net encourages such readers to continue to buy the product.

Added:  OK, uncle; I accept there are legitimate reasons for this wording, at least for some people.

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OB meetup Friday 13th 7PM Springfield VA

Do you believe in luck?  If not, and you live near DC, come to an OB meetup at my place southwest of Washington DC on Friday March 13th, at 7PM!  If you reply to this post and say you want to come, AND provide your real e-mail in the "email" line when you post, I'll email back with details.  (The email address provided by each commentator gets sent to the author of the original post.)

Even if I know you're coming, replying here will let others know who's coming.

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