Most mamas find Earth Mama when they become pregnant and start looking for the safest teas to drink while pregnant, and the purest products to go ON their pregnant bodies, knowing that what goes on their skin goes in their baby. That knowledge gets kicked up a notch once baby is born, and mamas want to protect their sweet ones from unnecessary toxins, and of course we’re happy to help! But there’s more to babies than personal comfort care, so we’ve invited some friends to chat about safe food and BPA too. Alicia Voorhies’ The Soft Landing can help mamas negotiate a toxic world, and Maggie Meade’s Wholesome Baby Food Guide Book and website gives you easy tools to make your baby’s first foods the safest and best!
Maggie Mead is the founder of Wholesomebabyfood.com and the author of the brand new homemade baby food bible The Wholesome Baby Food Guide. Her work guides mamas to forgo processed, jarred and pouched baby foods for something simpler, cheaper and far more healthful, assuring that what goes IN your baby is safe and pure. If you ever thought, “Hey, I can just mash up this avocado and, voila! I have baby food!” you’ll love Maggie!
Maggie Mead: If your baby is six months old and you’re thinking about introducing solid foods, you should know that what goes into your baby’s tummy for the next six months matters more than you may think. At this stage, you have a wonderful opportunity to nurture a true love of real, whole foods by making baby food at home. Making homemade baby food is a wonderful way to introduce your little one to an amazing variety of fruits and vegetables and even grains and meats that you just won’t find in a jar. When you cook and share homemade foods with your baby, you’ll be exposing her to the taste and texture of real foods instead of processed foods that have been stripped of their once former wholesome glory.
The latter half of baby’s first year is a fantastic “foodie” phase. It is a time to develop the taste buds, encourage a healthy exploration of foods, and expand the palate. And, when you shop for the ingredients and make baby’s food, you’re guaranteeing that fresh, wholesome and real foods are providing the many nutrients that a rapidly developing baby needs.
There is no other time in our lives that growth and development occur more rapidly than during that precious first year of life. During this first year of life (technically the second half of the first year) your baby will eat more fruits and vegetables, on a pound per pound basis, than you or your older children will. Considering this high intake of fruits and veggies, preparing and feeding your baby organic foods is the best way to ensure no harmful toxins are going into your baby’s body
According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a person who eats foods that are on the “Dirty Dozen” list will be exposed to as many as 15 different pesticides per day. At least four of the “Dirty Dozen” are foods that babies first eat; and they eat a lot of these foods. Remember that pound for pound, our babies are consuming more fruits and veggies that we are. This alone makes the case for choosing organic foods for our little ones whenever possible
Living in an area where the “organic” movement has been a bit slow to catch on, I know that it may be difficult for many people to find organic foods and buy them at a reasonable price. Sure, there may be some organic items that are priced higher than others but don’t automatically assume that all organic food is out of your price reach. Over the weekend I was shopping at my local grocery store and found that in many instances, the price differential between organic and non-organic averages out to around $0.40 per pound. I bought some luscious organic strawberries at only $2.99 per pound; the non-organic strawberries were $2.59 per pound. It is true that many organic foods do cost much more than their conventional counterparts, such as milk, eggs and meats, however you can still find a way to work them into your shopping list.
If you can’t afford to purchase all organic for the whole family, consider purchasing the items that appear on the “Dirty Dozen” list only. Buying organic foods does not have to be an all or nothing proposition and you can pick and choose which ones to get, according to budget and the ages of your family members. If there is ever an essential time to buy organic foods, buying organic foods for your baby is that time!
Important Foods to Buy Organic: The Dirty Dozen (2011, EWG)
Dairy Products, Eggs, Meats, Apples, Celery, Strawberries, Peaches, Spinach, Nectarines (imported), Grapes (imported), Sweet bell peppers, Potatoes, Blueberries (domestic), Lettuce, Kale/collard greens
Alicia Voorhies is the rockin’ “rocket scientist” behind The Soft Landing, the authoritative site for consumers to find healthy, eco-friendly products that have been carefully vetted and approved by TSL’s team. An expert on BPA and toxins in plastics, Alicia works to make it easy for mamas to choose safer products, and to avoid worrisome toxins. And BPA is a big one, found in cans and leeching into foods – especially acidic (think tomatoes) or fatty (like coconut milk) food, BPA is a “synthetic chemical that mimics or blocks hormones and disrupts the body’s normal functions – even at low doses – especially in children.”
Alicia Voorhies; It’s important to be aware that endocrine-disrupting chemicals, like BPA and phthalates, are routinely used in pre-packaged foods and containers. The Breast Cancer Fund recently conducted a landmark study where families ate only fresh food, no cans or plastic packaging, for three days. Shockingly, they experienced a whopping 60 percent drop in BPA levels in that short period of time! So the good news is that taking small steps toward healthier choices doesn’t have to be overwhelming for busy mamas. Begin by cooking fresh, unpackaged foods as often as possible. And for those times when you need to rely on packaged foods, follow these five simple tips to reduce unnecessary exposure:
- Avoid canned foods, unless you find products specifically labeled as BPA-free (see a full list here).
- Bring your own containers and skip disposable containers made of polystyrene or Styrofoam when you eat out.
- Store baby food and leftovers in glass, stainless steel, silicone, or plastic containers confirmed free of BPA, PVC and Phthalates (see the many great options here).
- Don’t microwave your plastic dishes, and always place them on the top rack of the dishwasher to prevent overheating.
- Avoid foods packaged in commercial PVC food wrap (and thus phthalates) which are often found on deli meat and cheese blocks (see our tips here).