Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Dateline Woodstock:

News from Vermont made the national networks last week when it seemed like only a handful of stories dominated the media. In case you missed it, our friends at PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) have filed a complaint against Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, cofounders of Ben & Jerry's Homemade Inc., makers of the Vermont brand of ice cream now famous from coast to coast. PETA is asking that Ben & Jerry's Homemade Inc. convert their recipes to use at least 75 percent breast milk procured from human donors who are paid in exchange for their milk. According to a letter from PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman, using cow's milk in Ben & Jerry's ice cream is a hazard to customer health. Reiman claims that dairy products have been linked to juvenile diabetes, allergies, constipation, obesity, and prostate and ovarian cancer. Following the release of this news to the major networks, TV anchor Katie Couric (best know for her riveting interview of vice-presidential hopeful Sarah Palin) interviewed a number of Vermont dairy farmers for their take on the idea and the practicality of converting their barns to accomodate the needs of 30-50 lactating women. Vermont farmers, like farmers in many small states, struggle to keep their operations afloat and are generally open to new ideas for expanding their businesses. However, Brad Hemant, who was interviewed for the CBS story, expressed some doubt that consumers would continue their entusiasm for ice cream that, until now, has consisted of pure Vermot cow's milk. Brad's neightbor and fellow dairyman Jim Souther was more hopeful such a switch to human breast milk (HBM) could revitalize demand for all Vermont homemade products, including a Ben and Jerry's sub-brand called "Mother's Best" destined to compliment the now-famous "Chubby Hubby." Brad and Jim agreed that, although finding adequate farm labor has been a problem in the past, conversion to HBM could attract a large force of volunteer workers come milking time. Walter Knesome, manager of our local Ben & Jerry's Scoop Shop, where customers were interviewed for their reaction to the proposition, appeared nonplussed with the idea of having to convert his signage for 1-scoop, 2-scoops, and 3-scoop sundaes to their A-cup, B-cup, and C-cup equivalents. Editor's note: anyone doubting the veracity of this story can read the original PETA letter here.

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