I sell firewood at my house. I cut down trees on my property (or cut up trees blown over by a storm), saw them into 16 inch pieces, split them with a hydraulic log splitter, and then dry them on a rack in the sun for almost a year. After that, I put them out in a nice, lighted stand at the end of my driveway. Most people pay me with cash, although quite a few are now paying me with Zelle. I give them more firewood then the 7-11 does for the same price, and everyone walks away happy.
Recently on the NextDoor App, some lady made the mistake of complaining that she couldn’t find any nice, split firewood for free. I and many others reminded her that properly split and dried firewood takes time and effort, and as such people like to be compensated for that time and effort. She scoffed at that notion.
I was going to ask if she stayed warm at night under a blanket in the form of the flag of the People’s Republic of China…but I decided against that.
Plenty of people want something for free. Americans are generous people, and while the pandemic drove down charitable donations, a majority of Americans still donate in some way. But donations are gifts, and you shouldn’t fault people for wanting compensation for their time and talent.
That brings us to breast milk. The expectation from quite a few people is that breast milk should be donated to a breast milk bank. That’s all well and good, but as I noted in my book (which you should absolutely read!), when my wife attempted to donate to our local bank, the number of rules and restrictions were outrageous. For example, if you take any supplement outside of prenatal vitamins, it precludes you from donating. I find it absurd that taking glucosamine sulfate means that you should dump perfectly good breast milk down the drain because the milk bank won’t take it.
Then there is the fact that breast milk donations get sold. At non-profit milk banks, this is touted as a way to cover freezers, employee pay and other expenses. Most milk banks sell breast milk at around five dollars an ounce.
To help defray the costs of screening donors and managing donated breast milk, nonprofit milk banks typically charge recipients a fee of about $5 per ounce of milk. “Although the milk is donated, there are expenses, such as milk processing, milk distribution, and buying of pasteurizers, freezers, and bottles,” Noble saidHealthline.com
Insurance coverage is hit or miss, and you’re stuck with the bill if your insurance says no.
Now, you can always buy formula…oh wait, not right now. Hence the increased interest in breast milk banks. And, hence the increased interest in purchasing breast milk through websites like Only The Breast (yup, that’s a real, non-pornographic website). Which has sparked lots of debate on whether people are justified to sell their breast milk.
To which I say, if you want to sell it, you’re 100% justified in doing so.
It is a pain to hook up to a breast pump, put everthing in a nice bag, freeze the milk and then store it. To make substantial milk, you’re eating more calories then normal, which costs more money. All this work, and yet some people think its unethical to pay people for their time and effort. The fake science studies people have even “questioned” the safety of purchasing breast milk, but can’t point to any significant cases where someone sold dangerous breast milk. While, on the contrary, there are plenty of cases of bad formula, but that hasn’t stopped hospitals from pushing it on mothers.
If I was a conspiracy theorist, linking this push of formula on mothers, and then a shortage of formula spiking the price which brings more money to formula companies, would be pretty easy. Did we create this crisis to further some other agenda? It doesn’t look good.
Selling breast milk undercuts milk banks and makes it easier to get milk locally. It compensates women for their time, effort and calories, and it encourages money to stay locally instead of fueling some big corporations that have every incentive to profit from formula shortages and breast milk donations that they can markup on their own.
Which is exactly why many interested people want you to believe its unethical. People that, just like my firewood example, don’t place any value on your time or effort.
Moms, if you’ve got extra milk, check out OnlyTheBreast, or talk in your mom groups about selling or donating your milk on your own terms. Don’t feel bad asking for some compensation, if nothing else for the time it took you to bag everything and stay hooked up to an uncomfortable machine. You could help solve the formula crisis, since its not like the US government is going to anytime soon.
This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency. While you’re getting ready for Memorial Day, why don‘t you buy one of my books on Amazon and help me out?