And That’s Why I Aim For 95%   3 comments

It’s confession time: I ate a “conventional” cheeseburger yesterday.

I had blood drawn twice in less than 24 hours (two different tests, one at my new naturopathic doctor’s office and one at a clinic where my insurance will pay the lab bill), and after the second time I realized that it might be a good idea to consume some iron, but we don’t currently have any red meat in the freezer (not that we would really want to cook it anyway, in this 100 degree heat). Since I was going to have to buy lunch anyway I decided to enjoy an In’n’Out burger. It was the first such burger I’ve had in almost a year and the last such burger that I’ll probably eat for the next couple years. Boy was it yummy.

So what’s wrong with the burger? Well, for most people, nothing. But last fall I committed to 95% elimination of meat and dairy containing synthetic hormones as one of the first steps in my pre-pregnancy prep. Why 95% instead of 100%? Because 100% is unrealistic. I’m not about to research (and then remember) every single cheese in the Whole Foods cheese display to figure out which are European, which are organic, and which are conventional. I feel really weird eating my leftovers at staff meetings or vendor presentations where everyone else is eating free pizza or whatever. I don’t want to inconvenience other people, just myself. And there will always be situations where the lines are gray, such as yesterday’s iron vs. beef-that-was-fed-artificial-hormones. What 95% does include is only hormone-free meat and dairy at home (that commitment actually dates back to 2001 when I first moved out on my own), and avoiding “conventional” meat and dairy when not eating at home.

I originally went hormone-free on two grounds. First, I was concerned that there may be some influence on my adult-onset acne from the residual hormones in the meat and dairy that I was consuming. Second, I was concerned about the health and welfare of the cows fed the artificial hormones; and how degraded health might affect my food in other indirect ways. On the first point, there is some scientific debate about whether/how much artificial hormones and related compounds pass into the meat/milk, whether/how much is destroyed by the human digestive system, and whether there is any effect from that small dosage. But I cite the Precautionary Principle. I’ve seen enough research results over the years to make me want to be wary, especially when it comes to a fetus that will spend 9 months immersed in my body and exposed to my body burden. That future fetus is the reason for ramping up my commitment to avoiding synthetic hormones. Since I’ve been told that it takes several months (on the order of three) for hormones to stabilize/be removed from the body, I decided to eliminate potential bad-actors well before we actually start trying to get pregnant.

Just in case anyone wants to know: US regulations allow synthetic hormones to be given to dairy cows, beef cattle, and lamb, but no other form of meat. Use of synthetic grown hormones (specifically rBST, recombinant bovine somatotropin) is not allowed in the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, or Japan. The first synthetic hormone was developed in 1994, and before that natural hormones were expensive and rarely used. For a few months in early 2009, the US imposed a luxury tax of 100% on some European goods and 300% on Roquefort cheese, supposedly in retaliation for the EU ban on imports of beef and dairy from cows given growth hormones.


Posted June 30, 2010 by mayakey in food, health

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3 responses to “And That’s Why I Aim For 95%

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  1. I’m almost totally with you on this (although I love me some Five Guys, hormones or no) but My-Tai, crack whores have normal babies all the time. You might be over thinking 🙂 (This from the girl who won’t drink any non-organic milk and will only eat happy chicken…most of the time. And we won’t even get into how anal I am about what I give to the baby.)

    • I fully admit to overthinking just about everything in my life. And really, there’s not much pressure in this situation. I mean, if I don’t follow through my baby will be just like most babies out there, which is to say FINE. The way I see it, any body burden or risk that I can avoid passing on is a gift that I can give my offspring, not something that has to be done in order to produce a healthy functioning being. So I give up eating beef in restaurants so that my baby boy has a better chance of problem-free gonads; but good cheese or cream of mushroom/asparagus/whatever soup may be worth more than that slight risk of underdeveloped testes.

  2. I was concerned that there may be some influence on my adult-onset acne from the residual hormones in the meat and dairy that I was consuming..

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