"Character is the one thing we make in this world and take with us into the next."
- - Ezra Taft Benson
October 9, 2014
Poo is Not Food
by Hannah Bird

Because the teen years arenít horrible enough on their own, I attended five different high schools in three states. While I was briefly in Texas, I found to my great amusement that people didnít know the difference between Mormon and Amish.

Why was I allowed to wear makeup and ride in cars if my family was Mormon? It was only slightly less funny when one year and three high schools later, I was living in Amish country. Surely they would know the difference, right?

Nope. It was really funny to me for a lot of years. Trying to convince people that Mormons are not Amish was very amusing.

Itís been less amusing to me in the past several years. Now days, I feel like I am trying to convince my fellow brothers and sisters that we are not Amish.

In the past several years there has developed a longing for ďold ways.Ē We look back with eyes dimmed by nostalgia and imagine a simpler more true and lovely life. We are overwhelmed by ideas and options. Simple and small looks like heaven.

We like the idea of secret simple ways that will give us power over a world that feels increasingly brutal and out of control. Surely, we think, there is some old hidden wisdom we can harken back to. Someone tells us that herbs are the old way and weíre in.

Apparently in the olden days, people slathered themselves in essential oils (that require modern methods to distill in the fashion they are being sold), and so there are roughly six million essential oil MLMs. People use to talk about sports or the weather. Now we are treated to long soliloquies about (proprietary) grades of essential oil.

We want herbs instead of pills. Oils instead of chemo. And for some inexplicable reason ó raw milk.

We have been robbed. There was once this whole beautiful world where everything and everyone was healthy. And one scam and scheme after another promises us the secret to getting back there.

They are right. There was a beautiful perfect world where all nature worked in gentle harmony. But then Adam and Eve got kicked out of Eden and here we are. In this permutation of the world, things hurt and die. Itís just one of the facts of this life like sex and Mondays and the miraculous smell of a new babyís head.

Hereís the dirty little secret: the old ways didnít work. Thatís why people looked for new ways. Children were dying and being crippled en masse. That was the impetus for discovering the polio vaccine. If eating three blueberries at the crack of dawn, curtseying three times and then licking a rock had treated polio, people would have kept doing that.

Instead, heartbroken parents provided their best care (the old way) and science and inspired research found a better way. They were looking because the old way didnít work.

When the scriptures talk about oils, they are not talking about the distilled essential oils we have today. There is a claim that ancient oil distilleries have been found. This has been debunked. There were certainly oils used. There was olive oil and lots of infusions.

Armed with that excellent health care, Lazarus died, leprosy ran rampant, blind people went begging, palsy seemed to be a real issue and some poor sister had her period for 12 years. I know as Mormons we do not subscribe to a traditional view of hell, but an endless period comes pretty darn close.

I donít drink raw milk. I run cattle. If I milk a cow, that milk is getting boiled. Thank you, Mr. Pasteur. In older rural communities you can still find people who lost friends or siblings to milk-borne disease. Had there not been, there would have been no need to figure out how to make those diseases stop.

I donít drink raw milk, but I was raised with the clear notion that poo is not food. Watching a cow lie in manure and then saunter into the milking parlor makes me happy to boil the milk. No matter how much I wash that udder, the cow was still just lying in poo.

I am sorry to be indelicate. But we have become so far removed from the realities of food production that people need to be clear on this point. There is so much poo.

We hear about secret combinations and feel certain that these are the mechanisms by which we have lost our birthright of glowing health without acknowledging the brutal realities that made people line up in droves for vaccination and un-pooed milk.

It is an easy temptation to make an idol of nature. But we are not Druids or Pagans and I donít think I should have to tell anyone that. We are specifically told to be stewards of the earth and subdue it. The earth is not our steward offering perfect health.

We are told to let go of false traditions of our fathers. Then we look backwards for healthcare advice that would make our pioneers beat us with a rolling pin. Those things are what they used because that is all they had.

We are a pro-science faith. Education has always been very important. Scientists and doctors have been featured prominently in the history of the Church. We believe in the value of knowledge. In fact we believe it is the only thing a soul can keep for eternity. Science is a gift.

Science has made and will make missteps. That fact does not negate its value. Pointing out some of scienceís oopsies does not negate the fact that your children and mine are not bent from polio, dead from vaccine preventable illnesses, or living in an iron lung.


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About Hannah Bird

I am me. I live at my house with my husband and kids. Mostly because I have found that people get really touchy if you try to live at their house. Even after you explain that their towels are fluffier and none of the cheddar in their fridge is green.

I teach Relief Society and most of the sisters in the ward are still nice enough to come.

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