Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Do you know what's in your baby's food?

I knew from the beginning (before I was pregnant) that I would be making baby food from scratch when the day came… and that day is here! Actually, Tuff has been on a palate party for about a month. He’s already gone through some major food assemblies:  a rainbow of squash (including yellow, pumpkin, spaghetti and zucchini), avocado, prune, banana, apple, pear, peach and carrot. He also loves yogurt (Yo-Baby Organic). All of his food so far has been made by my husband and I, and it’s all been organic. When our garden was producing some these veggies (squash and zucchini), we thought this food would last us till the end of the year… eh, not so much. Apparently, he’s a little human now and he wants to eat food like all the other humans do. LOL!

**Steamed Granny and Delicious apples and left over steamed peach puree, frozen into 1 oz. cubes**

**Tuff's treat for his 7-month birthday**

In my relatively small circle of mommy friends and acquaintances, there are only a fair few (let’s count 2-3 moms) that make their kids’ food. Some are eating McDonalds French fries before the age of 1. I’m not mommy-bashing, so don’t take this personally (or do if it’s necessary for you to go about your day), but I’m not trying to give my little baby French fries from a funky fast food chain that not only was fried in vegetable oil that has been sitting there all day, but has also been sitting under a heating lamp for 30 minutes. Plus, it’s loaded with salt and lord knows where the potatoes came from. Don’t even get me started on all the other food at these joints.

Yes, I think about these things all the time. I’ve worked in the fast food business, and stay away from that food as much as I possibly can. I completely understand the convenience of driving through a fast food place and then being on your way, especially with kids. I have a couple weaknesses, I’ll admit. I indulge maybe once a month, but then my face starts feeling oily and my stomach jerks and turns and growls at people in public and I’m reminded of why I stay away from these places. The fast food industry makes it super easy, but they are having a terrible time making it the least bit healthy. Even a salad from one of these places can cost you about 1,000 calories and who knows where the vegetables have come from. They are definitely not organic, because they wouldn’t stay that fresh for so long. Yes, it takes a little extra time to prepare food and snacks before going on a trip… and who doesn’t love a good donut hole every once in a while… or maybe a Little Debbie snack to hold you over until dinner is ready. Thirsty, li’l one? Here’s a Coca-Cola to quench your thirst… This is what we are teaching our children are good eating habits. Then they taste real food with healthy ingredients and they are put off, screaming for another zebra cake or they will never eat food EVER AGAIN!
**Small McD's French Fries: 230 calories; 0% Vitamin A, 8% vitamin C, 2% Calcium, 4% Iron**
(% of daily value)

**Homemade Sweet Potato Fries (20 ct): 180 calories, 80% vitamin A, 65% vitamin C, 8% Calcium, 8% Iron**
(% of daily value)

Like I said, I’m not mommy-bashing. This comes from personal experience. This is how I remember growing up and what was burned into MY brain. I would open up the pantry, and it would be full of boxed treats and cereal coated in sugar and candy bars. The freezer always had frozen pizza bites, and Hot Pockets, and processed food. At my dad’s house, it was more interesting… chocolate chips would often be found in our cornbread and Vienna sausages in our spaghetti. My Granny’s house was probably the most healthy food that we ate. Yes, my PawPaw made me coffee-milk every morning, and took me to McDonalds to get an egg McMuffin some days, and then there are the bear-claws that the Ralph’s Market used to make in their pantry (yum, just drooled). When I was growing up, it was all about convenience. Everyone was too busy to worry about what was in our food, or didn’t think it was anything to be concerned with. I mean, we’re alive and healthy today, right, that’s a good thing…

Here’s where the problem is… I’m 32, 70 lbs overweight and desperately trying to re-train myself when it comes to healthy food options and IT'S FREAKING HARD! Having to teach yourself at this age about portion control, and learning what foods help your body perform at its best is an exhausting process. THIS is why I am taking the time to start my kid’s journey into food the best way I can, and the only way to really know what is in his food and where it comes from is to make it myself. And I must say, his food tastes so much better than any baby food I’ve ever tasted (and yes, I’ve tasted several baby food brands and flavors).

Lately I’ve been reading a lot about the upcoming GMO proposition 37 in California (November). I know this is not our state, but if it is decided in California that manufacturers are required to label their products with the words “May contain genetically modified foods”, it will spread like wild fire across the US. I will not go into detail about this subject in this post, otherwise I may be typing forever. However, click on the links provided to read up on a few recent articles concerning GMO's (genetically modified organisms) and labeling.

The reason I’m mentioning the upcoming GMO proposition is because during my research into this subject, my desire to offer and prepare my family healthy organic food has become my new obsession. I’ve been really getting into reading our labels and it’s freaky how much we put into our bodies that we can’t even pronounce. My son’s baby formula is one of the scariest things that I give him. Reading the label on the back of the formula box blows my mind. I know he has to be on this formula for at least 5 more months, and I cannot wait till the day we can start giving him cow’s milk. At least then we have the option of offering him organic milk and can get away from this over-processed powder. This also deepens my passion for feeding him fresh, organic food from the very beginning. This way I know at least part of what he is consuming is natural and from the earth and free of pesticides, additives and growth hormones.

In the short time that we have been decreasing his formula, and increasing his solids, we have noticed a huge change in him. His bowel movements are more regular (and he has stopped straining and crying when he has a BM). He had a touch of eczema on his face and his skin would flare up when he would get upset or hungry or hot, this has completely cleared up. He has had some pretty bad allergies which affected his nasal passages and breathing; both have been getting better by the week. It can’t be a coincidence that these things cleared themselves up at the same time we began introducing organic purees high in antioxidants and vitamin C (I chose to introduce the veggies highest in these categories first to help promote his little immune system).

So I bring this question to you… Do you read ingredient labels before feeding it to your baby/child? Would you want to know if your food contained genetically modified organisms? Do you believe it’s worth the extra money to buy organic, or do you trust conventional produce?