"They disguise it, hypnotize it, television made you buy it…”

by Katie Pizzuto on September 16, 2008

in Labels,Regulations,Wine

I got an email from an old friend a couple of weeks ago and we began to catch each other up on our lives. She mentioned having a toddler that she’s breastfeeding now, and how she has a glass of wine with dinner (and had a glass here or there during the pregnancy) despite the fact that just about every obstetrician in the US warns you against it. And it pissed me off all over again, just like this subject did when I was pregnant 10 years ago, reminding me how much this country is driven by fear. It takes a certain amount of confidence and strength of will these days to go against what is sold to us under the guise of “sound advice.”

Every bottle of wine sold in the US since 1990 has carried the Surgeon General’s warning about alcohol possibly causing birth defects if imbibed during pregnancy. This mandatory labeling began because of a panic caused by heavy drinkers giving birth to children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. What the government didn’t bother to tell us is that the syndrome is extremely rare, occurring only 3 times in 100,000 births, and then only when the mother drinks abusively throughout her pregnancy. Now, of course, there are tests that claim occasional wine drinking during a pregnancy may actually be beneficial, but I’m not going to argue that one way or the other here. The fact is that women in Europe, particularly France, Italy and Spain, have been drinking wine during their pregnancies for eras, and their governments don’t appear worried at all.

I remember once being told that butter was terrible for me and I should switch to margarine to keep my cholesterol at bay. Then I was told years later that margarine was the equivalent of chemical crap for my body, and that I should immediately go back to using natural butter. I also remember being told that I shouldn’t eat so much sugar, and that “sugar substitutes” were the way to go. Again, years later I was told that they may cause cancer, so perhaps I should lay off them and just toss that friggin’ spoonful of sugar into my coffee like I used to. Sorry, but fear mongering and scare tactics are something I like to avoid serving on my dinner table. No, Chicken Little, the sky is not falling down, though Washington would like us to think so…they “warned” you—can’t blame them! And while we debate the angels and demons of foie gras here in the US, the Spanish will be giggling, the French will be snorting, and the Italians will nearly be peeing their pants laughing at us searching blindly for moderation, all with a glass of wine in their hands.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tory September 16, 2008

the truth is spoken. my still nursing 16 month old gets some wine in his booby juice and got some wine through his umbilical cord and is no worse for wear. now, I never tried to drink in public once I was obviously pregnant because I did not think it would be worse the dirty looks but I did not banish my milton park shiraz from my life when the pregnancy test got that second line. it cracks me up that they will tell a pregnant or nursing woman not to drink but they will offer her all sorts of drugs while in labor with known potential negative effects on the baby and suggest she put mercury in her baby in the name of disease prevention.

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2 Linsey September 17, 2008

I remember reading a newspaper article a few years ago about an american woman who was arrested for breast feeding her baby while she was in her garden drinking a glass of wine and they were debating whether to charge her. I dont know what the outcome was but even at the time it seems a complete over-reaction.

Considering the multiple pollutants surrounding us these days throughout life I would have thought the odd glass of wine during pregnancy was the least of our problems.

Sometimes it comes down to the fact that if you followed every health recommendation, every food scare and every paranoid response you wouldnt eat or drink everything at all.

Going for common sense and moderation seems to be a better idea.

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3 Katie Pizzuto September 17, 2008

“Fear is a disease that eats away at logic.”

-Marian Anderson

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