Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Organic Baby

Easy cheesephoto © 2010 E S | more info (via: Wylio)

Today I fed my baby girl strawberries for the first time, but being an over protective mom I made sure they were organic. Am I nuts to go this far?  Do I really need to splurge and feed her something that is organic?  Well, when I was pregnant, I made sure I ate well and did not eat any preservatives, HFCS products, fake sugars, food colorings and additives.  I figured, why would I want to ingest these fake products and chemicals and give them to a fetus who is growing inside of me?

So when my child started eating solid foods a few months ago, I researched organic foods, baby foods and how to make your own baby/toddler foods (the Beaba baby cooker is amazing!) Which brings me to the picture above.  Seriously, would you feed your tiny little baby cheese from a can? Okay, maybe you would, but with so many stories out there about the increase of children with hyperactivity, ADHD, autism, aspergers, sensory integration, developmental problems, neurological issues, child cancers, etc. it really started alarming me.  They don't know what is causing the rise in these disorders, but it really makes you wonder if it is from our environment and the products we put in our bodies.

But not that I have gone overboard here or to scare you, but it really makes you think.  Now, I know what you are saying, that a lot of kids out there are raised on the most processed, synthetic, artificial factory foods out there like Cheetos, Ding Dongs, and McDonalds and turn out just fine.  Well, the scary thing is that most of the foods we ate as children do not have as many of the 'bad' ingredients that are in foods today.

So, to start figuring out how to give my baby healthy food choices, I started looking at organic foods and their benefits.

Researching organic foods, I found that the pesticides in them were harmful, but I did not realize how bad.  What harm? Well, some research I found here stated the following: Before a mother first nurses her newborn, the toxic risk from pesticides has already begun. Studies show that infants are exposed to hundreds of harmful chemicals in utero.  According to the National Academy of Science, “neurologic and behavioral effects may result from low-level exposure to pesticides.” Numerous studies show that pesticides can adversely affect the nervous system, increase the risk of cancers, and decrease fertility.

Why buy organic?

Buying organic helps decrease toxic chemicals in the air, soil and water, and decreases pesticide drifts from toxic farm water down to the oceans.  Eleven years ago, genetically modified food (GMO) was not part of our food supply; today 30 percent of our cropland is planted in GMOs! By NOT eating organic milk, eggs, cheese and meat/poultry products, you are at risk at ingesting artificial hormones and antibiotics, as well as endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Hmm, makes me wonder if this is why Thyroid cancer is on the rise??  Just a thought.

Oh, and make sure when you buy products that the label states, "Produced without antibiotics, synthetic hormones or pesticides" because if it says "Our Farmers Pledge to not use hormones" then it's their word against yours- they are pledging they won't, but there is no guarantee.  Don't you love their marketing technique of careful word choice? It's like when labels say 'chocolate flavored' on the packaging, that means it is not real chocolate.

The USDA's own tests show that most non-organic produce contain residual pesticides even after washing them!  In a perfect world, we would buy all of our groceries organic. Unfortunately, organic food is still more expensive!  Ever heard of the store, Whole Paycheck?  But the costs are getting lower.

I found a list of must buy organic fruits and veggies, so hopefully you can buy these organic and the rest you can buy non-organic so they are easier on your wallet.  They recommend purchasing the following products organically from this link (based on findings from the USDA and Consumer Reports):

  1. Nectarines – 97.3% of nectarines sampled were found to contain pesticides.

  2. Celery – 94.5% of celery sampled were found to contain pesticides.

  3. Pears – 94.4% of pears sampled were found to contain pesticides.

  4. Peaches – 93.7% of peaches sampled were found to contain pesticides.

  5. Apples – 91% of apples sampled were found to contain pesticides.

  6. Cherries – 91% of cherries sampled were found to contain pesticides.

  7. Strawberries – 90% of strawberries sampled were found to contain pesticides.

  8. Imported Grapes – 86% of imported grapes (i.e. Chile) sampled were found to contain pesticides.

  9. Spinach – 83.4% of spinach sampled were found to contain pesticides.

  10. Potatoes – 79.3% of potatoes sampled were found to contain pesticides.

  11. Bell Peppers – 68% of bell peppers sampled were found to contain pesticides.

  12. Red Raspberries – 59% of red raspberries sampled were found to contain pesticides

After researching organic products, I then started looking into food additives, preservatives and synthetic products and their effects.

I have a hard time reading food labels and wanting to ingest so many of these fancy chemical words into my body.  For something like cheese, why can't it just say: Cow milk, cheddar, whey proteins?


Or how about childrens cereals such as Lucky Charms, which used to be my absolute FAVORITE:

Whole Grain Oats, Marshmallows (Sugar, Modified Corn Starch, Corn Syrup, Dextrose, Gelatin, Calcium Carbonate, Yellows 5&6, Blue 1, Red 40, Artificial Flavor), Sugar, Oat Flour, Corn Syrup, Corn Starch, Salt, Trisodium Phosphate, Color Added, Natural and Artificial Flavor. Vitamin E (Mixed Tocopherols) Added to Preserve Freshness. Vitamins and Minerals: Calcium Carbonate, Zinc and Iron (Mineral Nutrients), Vitamin C (Sodium Ascorbate), a B Vitamin (Niacinamide), Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine Hydrochloride), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B1 (Thiamin Mononitrate), Vitamin A (Palmitate), a B Vitamin (Folic Acid), Vitamin B12, Vitamin D3.

Sometimes it is hard to tell what the heck an ingredient is when they use fancy science words such as Sodium Phosphate. Googling this word, I found it is another name for sodium nitrate.  Heard of that one?  That is a preservative found in a lot of meat products such as hot dogs, that has been linked to increased child migraines.

And food colorings? Food coloring has been found to cause (not speculate) but CAUSE hyperactivity and behavior problems in children. And as a play therapist, many of us child counselors have seen this first hand.  This doesn't mean to cut it out completely, but it just makes you aware and to limit the amount you ingest. Definitely check the labels. You would be surprised to find that many products have food coloring added that you wouldn't think would have it in there.

Foods I used to eat all the time back in college that I thought were somewhat good for me like Yoplait yogurts, Life cereal, Kraft cheese, Mission Tortillas, or even Whole Grain Eggo Waffles- I was surprised to find that they all had preservatives and artificial ingredients!  It was a huge wake up call that just because something sounds healthy, doesn't mean it is!

And what about the whole BPA plastic question?

Apparently plastics can cause cancer too, so now, all of the baby products you purchase will say BPA-Free.  BPA is a hormone disrupting chemical called bisphenol A phthalate (BPA for short).  They recommend using BPA free products, reducing the use of canned goods and avoiding the plastics with the numbers 3, 6 and 7 on the bottom. Here is a website that discusses BPA and the effects, but the scary thing is that it states that exposure to BPA can cause effects on infants, and childrens developing brains, behavior and prostate glands.  Kind of scary!

I know, you can't eat perfectly everyday. How about when you eat out? They are not going to be cooking you a hormone free breast of chicken, believe me.  Most restaurants and fast foods are mass produced, frozen and from a can, so chances are you are not getting wholesome foods.  Obviously the best option would be to require farms and factories to never use hormones, antibiotics and anything artificial in their products, but knowing that is not going to happen today, I think the best thing you can do is to eat these foods in moderation.  As a family, we try to eat home cooked meals as much as possible and eat out once in a while.

As for some good food choices, here are a few that I found that are good for kids (and adults too) :)

Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Colors Neon (made with vegetable dyes and nothing artificial):

2010 Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Colors Neon bag

Organic Cascadian Farm Oatmeal Kid-Sized Bars (USDA organic and preservative free):

Or try these yummy freeze-dried fruit pieces from Funky Monkey- no added sugar, preservatives or artificial colors:

Here is another great product if you love Hummus- it's from Tribe Origins. They have classic versions and organic but both are made all natural, no preservatives added- so you have to eat it within 7 days of opening.  Kids can dip pretzels or pita pieces in them and is good for packed lunches.

And if you are looking for lunch meat without the nitrates added or preservatives, Boars Head brand is a good alternative. Just make sure when you buy it at the deli counter, to make sure it does not have preservatives in it.

Oh, and I just picked up a box of these yummy cookies from Tate's Bakeshop last night at the supermarket.  They are all natural and have other flavors as well.

There are a lot more great food options for kids out there, I just don't have enough space to list them all!  Hopefully this information gives you something to think about.  Like I said, we can't always eat healthy all the time- we would go broke just trying. In fact, I was eating my favorite fast food the other day, a Taco Bell Bean Burrito (.99 cents) and as I was pouring their hot sauce on it, I just glanced at the label and almost had a heart attack reading the ingredients, but I ate it anyway.  As long as we are not ingesting chemicals into our bodies all day long and choose some healthy choices for the most part, then that is the best we can do!


  1. Great ideas. It is shocking to read labels these days and it's important to look at what we put in our bodies.

  2. I agree! I read all labels now after I got sick. It is so important for all of us to be more aware of what chemicals we are putting into our bodies. It is certainly harder at times, and more expensive, but worth it!

  3. It is more expensive but it is so important to be cautious now! They did not put nearly as many of these 'bad' ingredients in food when our parents were kids so it is kind of scary to see all the new chemicals they have invented and put in foods now. I will have an occasional soft drink here and there but when I read the ingredients in them, it sounds like I am drinking battery acid!

  4. It is scary, and now with the GMO's the genetically modified foods, they are saying cause infertility, babies born with defects, cancer causing, etc. I wish organics were more affordable.