Swiss Milk

A Swiss restaurant owner has announced this month that he intends to serve a menu of dishes cooked with human breast milk. Mr Locher has been posting ads looking for lactating woman to provide the raw ingredient at about £3($6) for 14 fluid ounces.

He first began experimenting with it when his daughter was born and claims, “One can cook really delicious things with it. However, it always needs to be mixed with a bit of whipped cream, in order to keep the consistency.”


weekendI wonder how many customers this menu will attract. Although most of us have been breast-fed as infants, the prospect of consuming someone else’s breast milk does make most of us feel a little queasy. Why? What is about consuming someone else’s human milk that some of us find repugnant? Why are we so happy to consume cow or goat milk? And what is so wrong with Kate Garraway suckling a calf in the recent Guardian article to highlight our peculiar attitudes towards breast-feeding?

 You may remember a few years back that TV chef, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall cooked up a mother’s placenta on an episode of Channel 4’s “TV Dinners.” Rosie Clear had just given birth and wanted to celebrate this with friends and family with a special dinner. Hugh obligingly flambéed the placenta with red wine and shallots to make a pâté, served on foccacia beard. As I described in the book, apparently Rosie’s husband woofed down 17 helpings while other dinner guests were more reluctant. Half the viewing nation rushed to their telephones to complain whereas the other half rushed to their toilets. Channel 4 was severely reprimanded by the British Broadcasting Standards Commission for bad taste and Hugh was left confused by the public reaction. What’s so wrong?

I think the placenta thing is more gross and for someone not keen on red, bloody meat in the first place, I know which I would swallow if forced to choose.

Still it is an interesting dilemma. As always, I think culture plays a role by shaping our disgust response which I would argue builds upon essentialist notions. We don’t hold these notions for cows and goats but humans are another matter. That’s why the Swiss authorities are still baffled by the apparent loophole in the law that allows Mr Locher to serve human milk. No one thought that it would ever be an issue. Maybe they should start considering other bodily parts. Finger nibbles anyone?


Filed under In the News, Newspaper, Weird Story of the Week

12 responses to “Swiss Milk

  1. I find it quite entertaining how I can appreciate the issue, find food aversions arbitrary, yet have my stomach do flip-flops at the very thought of such meals.

  2. brucehood

    Yes, it’s precisely this clash between gut-reaction intuitions and rational thinking that I am trying to draw attention to. Intuitive reasoning is fast and furious and kicks in rapidly whereas the other is much harder and takes time.

    The theory developed in the book is the first is a natural reasoning process whereas the other has to be learned and does not always win out over intuition. Hence I argue that the two systems are often going to clash.

    Bon appetite

  3. George Andrews

    “Swiss authorities are still baffled by the apparent loophole in the law that allows Mr Locher to serve human milk”

    From the original telegraph article-

    “They are not on the list of approved species such as cows and sheep, but they are also not on the list of the banned species such as apes and primates”

    What loophole ?

  4. brucehood

    Hi George,
    Welcome to my site.

    Loophole, in that humans are on neither the approved nor banned list of species. Therefore the law does not currently apply to them. That’s a loophole as far as I understand it. Have I got that wrong?


  5. No, as one who professionally looks for loopholes, I would say you have it just right!

    AND, as a lactivist I have piles to say about the drinking human milk thing. However, I won’t use your blog as a soapbox, I promise.
    Personally, I get a little queasy at the thought of drinking breastmilk. I think it has to do with our cultures privacy constraints and oversexualization of the female form. We (Americans anyway) get pretty appalled if we spot a breast bared for it’s actual purpose, instead of one tantalizingly presented to us for our sexual gratification. I am pretty sure it’s taboo nature makes drinking someone else’s breastmilk taboo too, almost somewhat sexual.

  6. brucehood

    Thanks Scylla.. Yes I was sure that was what a loophole was.

    Lactivist… I love it! Is that your wit or is there really such a term?

    I expect you are referring to all the benefits of breast-feeding and the appalling problems that are associated with powdered milk in the poorer communities where there is no clean water or proper sterilization. Shame on Nestlé… a Swiss company!

  7. Arno

    Why does this vaguely remind me of Little Britain? My catchphrase for the rest of the day: “Bitty!”

  8. brucehood

    That is one of the funniest I have ever seen and you can hear the audience’s revulsion!

  9. Sadly it is not my wit, it is an actual term. There are quite a lot of us.
    It is a term supporting the benefits of breastfeeding, and also advocating against the use of formula in areas where there is no safe water.
    We also do a lot of Nurse-ins when you see restrictions on breastfeeding.
    I will have to watch the Youtube later, once I figure out why my computer no longer has sound….

  10. Arno

    ..btw, Bruce, this is the second time you post something that gets followed up on in the media. PETA does not understand human psychology, it seems.

    • BeeDee

      No, they understand human psychology very well, as well as (self-) promotion, publicity, public relations, marketing, advertising, hype, propaganda (in the good sense), and the like, which is why they did what they did. (and do what they do, often quite well)

  11. Pingback: Milk of Human Kindness « Bruce M. Hood

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