Thursday, November 27, 2008


OK, what should we worry about? Is my kid (or am I) making little plastic pellet kidney stones as we speak? Why didn't someone keep this from happening? Why didn't they tell us sooner? 
First, it's likely that some amount of melamine or similar contaminant(s) has been in our food supply for quite a while and we are just now finding out about it. Last year it was cats and dogs, now babies who may suffer. One big lesson - look really hard at things 'made in china'. Sure, there are lots of good things made in china, and we probably couldn't get along in our current society without many of them. Another last year thing that had a 'china connection' (isn't it funny how 'last year' is so 'last year'?) was lead in the paint on toys. That passed, not too many people are asking about that lately. But still, consider whether you want to put something in your mouth if it's made in china. Just a warning. 
Second, related to the previous sentence, this will be 'last year' next year, so don't freak. I'm not envisioning kids peeing plastic pellets out at their parents during diaper changes.
Third, what else is there in our food and environment that's not good for us? Back to a paraphrase of a friend's quote about whether we should be concerned about the plastic in water bottles, etc., "when people aren't eating junk and getting obese and having diabetes and high blood pressure from doing stuff they know isn't good for them, then we can start worrying about the stuff we aren't so sure about...". Good, no great, point.
A story that I've used with my kids from time to time comes to mind as regards things that are present in things we are consuming (eating, watching, listening to, you name it): When her kids were watching movies that had 'just a little bit' of bad language and some sexual innuendo in them, a mom decided to teach them a little lesson. She baked them some brownies, and before they had eaten any she told them that she had put a little extra ingredient in the brownies. When they asked what she had put in, she replied "canine fecal matter" (which I will henceforth refer to as d.s. for those of you with sensitive eyes and I'll let the rest of you figure it out). She said she had put in 'just a little bit of d.s.' and that they wouldn't even notice that it was in there. Then she asked them if they wanted to eat the brownies.  They wouldn't eat any. They said that 'just a little bit' of d.s. spoiled the whole batch. After an appropriate period of time, during which they ranted and raved that she was nuts and they couldn't believe she had put d.s. in the brownies, she asked why 'just a little bit' of d.s. bothered them so much. They continued their protest until she asked if they knew where she had gotten the phrase 'just a little  bit'. When reminded of their use of the phrase regarding their choice of movies, they were forced to admit that 'just a little  bit' of bad can definitely spoil some things, and maybe it would spoil anything, especially once they were made aware of its presence.
OK, sorry, long story, but even 'just a little bit' of dog poop in anything is generally unacceptable. Well, I'll take that back, we've been told there are 'acceptable amounts' of insect parts in some of our meat products for years and we still eat hot dogs, so I'll give you that one. But in today's culture in America, we're all about full disclosure and responsibility so we agonize over shots with mercury in them and bisphenol A in plastic cups and bottles and now we have melamine in baby formula. Thank you, FDA. Or is ignorance bliss? Once informed, we're determined to get rid of whatever we've just discovered is present, and we're also quite inclined to blame everything from autism to global warming on whatever is this year's dog poop.
I guess one response would be to pull all baby formula off the shelves immediately. Hopefully you can see the problem inherent in this solution. We could vilify the makers of the 'tainted' formulas, except it seems that not all of their formula lines had melamine, just some. 
We could switch to 'safe' formulas, and I guess for now this is the best solution. When the next d.s. discovery is made, another group will be taken off (or put on) the list. Interestingly, one formula from each of the 'big 3' makers of formula contained some melamine or its byproducts, so no one was innocent, except maybe the Target and Walmart generic brands made by Wyeth Labs. Man, I wish they'd found some in the Walmart brand! The evil empire. The antichrist. Well, I really don't wish that because I have lots of patients on that formula and recommend it to patients often, so my interests shouldn't be put above the health of those babies.
My overall point is: remember lead paint in toys and bpa in bottles, they're pretty much 'old news'. 'Last year'. You can take it two ways. One, we are a 'what's in front of us is important regardless of its importance' society, so don't forget 'last year' stuff. Or, we are obsessed with our perceived control of everything and are disappointed when it gets proven that there are things beyond our knowledge and control, so don't worry too much and remember how many things have failed to live up to their gloom and doom predictions and have become 'last year's' concerns.
Stay tuned for my (maybe) next blog about how anxiety reveals the absence of humility and how we should 'sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight' rather than trying to fly the plane from 23B. For an audio on this from Alistair Begg on Truth for Life, where I stole these phrases and ideas, go to or .org, I can't remember which, and go to November 7 "a Biblical approach to anxiety". For the whole deal, go back to the 6th and listen to it all. I'm praying for a kind heart as I write this blog! 

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