Monday, August 3, 2009

Baby Food? Human Food.

I want to begin this with a very simple statement. There is nothing extraordinary about making your own baby food. It doesn't require you to be a health freak, or a hippie, or an extreme dietary Nazi. Nope, all it means is that you have a food processor and whatever you eat you set a little aside and puree it for your baby. It is what people have done for thousands of years, and in most other nations they never stopped.

Would you want to eat jarred food every day for months on end? Why would you do that to your kid? The first flavors your baby tastes should be fresh, bright, rich, and delicious. Not dull, grayish, mush. Baby's tastes are fickle...for example Lil' Bit would have nothing to do with blueberries when she was six months seven months later she will eat them until she is sick.

When Lil' Bit was five months old I introduced her to solids. I told people I was going to make her food and they treated me like I was some sort of saint. I got a book or two, The Petite Appetite was my favorite, and then from there I just followed my instincts and my own diet. Avocados, bananas, baked sweet potato, and pureed spinach where some of her favorites.

At first I just made veggies specifically for her, and then I had the brilliant realization that I was wasn't making baby food...I was making real food that I would eat myself. I set aside some of it not to puree and had a nice side for dinner. Now, it is the opposite. Whatever I am making for dinner I make extra for her just slice it small now that she has a few chompers. Granted you have to be careful of certain foods like pine nuts, and other high allergens, but babies can really pretty much eat anything. Check out the book Real Food for Mother and Baby, by Nina Planck. A local and traditional food expert, she does a great job explaining the realities behind eating for new moms and new babes.

One day at the grocery store I decided to do a little recon and see what was actually in baby food. Being that I try to eat only organic foods I compared the ingredients of the Gerber baby foods and those of Earth's Best organic baby food. Earth's Best only had two simple ingredients in most of their food, vegetable and water or fruit and water. In fact if you are going to go the jar route, make sure water is the only other ingredient listed in whatever simple baby food you choose other than the veggie, fruit, or meat. Anything else listed, is a filler that decreases the nutritional value.

In the USA baby food is a $1.25 billion dollar industry. Three companies, Gerber, Beech Nut, and Heinz, control 95% of the market. The Center for Science in the Public Interest did a study on baby food and found that most of the food sold are diluted with fillers and they only have 1/2 of the nutritional value of the actual veggies named on the jar.

In February this year we went to NYC and I decided to buy a few jars of baby food for Lil' Bit just to make travel a little easier. I tried to give her some carrots and she took two bites and then refused to eat anything else out of the little jars. Who could blame her?

Don't get me wrong...I am not super hardcore about processed foods. Ok...maybe a little hardcore, but I do give her the occasional organic cookie, but fruit is her main sweet of choice. If we are at a friends house I let her eat whatever if I didn't bring anything else. It is important to be relatively flexible.

Real food is so much less expensive than "baby food" or processed food in general, and it is something you and your baby can share together. Easy on the pocket book, and taste buds. It is more bang for your buck because it has higher nutritional value as well.

Human food is baby food. Simple as that.

ps. pasta is one of Lil' Bit's favorite foods of all time. You can mix any veggie into it, and slap a little Alfredo and cream cheese...delicious for all. Pastina is a tiny pasta Italians serve their babies and it makes a fabulous food for the little toothless ones!

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