How do you prepare for a formula shortage?

When the shortage of preparations hit, spontaneous communities began to form. Facebook groups alert members when stores are restocking. People donate breastmilk, both through milk banks, which test and pasteurize milk for safety, and among friends (which doctors advise against – because breastmilk, like other fluids bodily injuries, can transmit infections – yet many parents feel comfortable doing it anyway). Stephanie Kresta, a 35-year-old mother of five in Houston, is one of dozens who posted publicly on Facebook nanny offer for other babiesif the parents had to face such a need. “II’ve always had too much breast milk,” Kresta tells me. Shedonated to him “freezer stash” of milk countless times before. Although no one has yet accepted her offer to nanny, she remains open to anyone within a day’s drive. It would be “Weird to see someone else nursing my baby,” Kresta said, imagining herself in the position of a parent looking for a nanny, “but if my baby were starving, that would be wonderful.”

Unfortunately, as the shortage continues, social media accounts are circulating other dubious DIY “solutions”– many of which can cause more harm to children. Cow’s milk, for example, may look similar to human milk or formula, but in reality contains radically different macro and micronutrients. Giving cow’s milk to a baby under 1 can trigger allergies, intestinal bleeding, and stress on the kidneys. During this time, diluting the formula may cause electrolyte imbalances which can lead to seizures. These tragic circumstances reinforce the limits of individuals and even small collectives; when lives are at stake, fast, early and aggressive government support for the vulnerable can be essential to their survival.


A measure of preparedness has always been useful: smoke masks on the west coast, storm shutters on the east coast and drinking water supplies everywhere. But in the face of global disasters, itis clear that there must also be efforts to harm reduction and system-wide resilience. If the consumption of fossil fuels remains high, increasingly spectacular natural disasters are almost guaranteed. Climate change therefore both vindicates the mindset of preppers and exposes the shortcomings of its individualistic posture: true prep requires not just having supplies on hand, but working to limit fossil fuel consumption. and stop future warming.

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