Thursday, January 20, 2011

Real Food: Organically Nurtured

I recently had a conversation with a friend regarding Mark's and my decision to feed Jack organic foods and it made me realize how much our way of thinking has changed in the last year. 

Anyone who knows me is aware of the fact that I'm very cheap thifty and I abhor paying even pennies more for something that I can find cheaper elsewhere. 

So, it may come as a suprise that Mark and I have decided to feed Jack organically grown foods. 

I know it surprises me. 

I'll be honest here, because we're all friends, right?  If you had ask me what I thought about organic food a year ago, I would have told you that I thought it was a fad for people who enjoy paying more for things just for the heck of spending more money.  Or maybe for dirty, tree-hugging hippies.  But, certainly not for me! 

And then I began to educate myself about food and I now understand the importance of eating organically.

Over the last several months, I have spent a considerable amount of time researching food.  It's actually an amazing topic once you start getting into it and understanding how things are produced and why.  There is a TON of information out there that I never knew and would never have known had I not started digging. 

My reason for digging?

This gorgeous, perfect little boy, whose complete care has been entrusted to me. 

Like other parents, I want the best for my child.  I don't think that "the best" is any one thing.  All families will likely define "the best" differently and it's certainly something you have to decide for yourself based upon your beliefs. 

Organic foods are just one of "the best" things that we want to do for Jack.

It's certainly not the cheapest option. 

The cost is something that I struggle with.  When I'm in the grocery store, it's hard to reach past that conventionally grown apple that's on sale for $0.99 per pound for the organically grown apple that looks EXACTLY the same, but costs $1.99 per pound.  Everything that I stand for is screaming at me saying, CHOOSE THE CHEAPER OPTION! 

But at this point, my conscience won't allow me to justify skipping organically grown items just because of cost.  Because there's more to it.  There are good reasons for why the organically grown apple costs more than it's conventionally grown counterpart.  And I've found those reasons to be very important.

So, why have we decided that this is "the best" option? 

There are certainly many benefits to organic farming, but to sum it up:  Pesticides scare me. 

Pesticides are utilized in conventional growing techniques in order to produce the most crop for the least cost.  Although there are clearly benefits (hello, cheap food!) there are also serious consequences.  More is known about pesticides today than when they first came into use.  Although we now know more than we used to, I don't think we fully understand the impact of these chemicals on our bodies. 

As of now, we know pesticides have been linked to serious health problems such as cancer, lung disease, reproductive problems, endocrine and and immune system disorders, asthma, and both Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease.  Testing has also found that pesticides can cause permenant changes in brain chemistry that may contribute to Autism spectrum disorders, behavorial disorders such as Attention Deficit and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity, as well as other learning disabilities. 

The more research that is done on these chemicals, the more we find that they are bad for us.

One just has to take a look around our society today to know that there is a higher incidence of chronic diseases.  (I recently read that more than 25% of youths are on long-term prescription medication along with 51% of adults who have medical insurance, which could be a whole separate post.)  The truth is that it's often hard to pinpoint the exact cause of many of these problems.  I don't think that eliminating the use of pesticides would eradicate all disease, but I'm of the opinion that reducing their use could certainly improve the situation. 

Pesticides are scary for anyone to consume in my opinion, but they are especially bad for children.  Here are some reasons why: 
  • Children consume more food relative to their body weight than adults do.  This means, that they have to process and eliminate more chemicals from their small, underdeveloped systems.
  • Children's bodies and brains are immature and still developing making it easier for their body to absorb pesticides and other chemicals, but harder for them to elimiate from their system. 
  • Pesticides actually block the absorbtion of vital nutrients that help children's bodies to grow and maintain a healthy immune system.

Even if we don't currently know all the answers, I think it's safe to say that what we as a society are currently doing isn't working.  Chronic diseases are on the rise, the health of Americans is declining, and although "they" like to blame it on individual diet and lifestyle choices alone, that can't be the whole story.

I know that as hard as I try, I can't keep Jack's little body from being exposed to all nasty chemicals, toxins, and pesticides.  There are just too many of them out there.  And I know it's not the end of the world if he eats some birthday cake, or a snack at a friend's house that's not necessarily something I would feed him at home, but I want to do the best that I can with the parts of his life that I do have control over. 

I want to make sure that as much as possible of the food that he consumes every day is as healthly and safe as it can be. 

The foods that are fed to a baby or a small child are vital to their growth and development.  It's the fuel that allows their systems to mature, their bones to grow, and their brain to achieve higher function.  That's a tall order from some humble green beans or squash and this is why I want to make sure that the fuel I'm introducing to my child's body is the best that I can provide.

Interested in the Real Food Movement? 

Here's some recommended reading:

Nina Planck's Real Food: What to Eat and Why and Real Food for Mother and Baby
Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto and The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals
Barbara Kingsoliver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life

And watching:

Food, Inc.
The Future of Food


  1. A dirty, tree-hugging hippie...that's me! :)
    Love that you're feeding your darling boy organic foods. A very wise choice as a mom!

  2. I think I'm a dirty tree-hugging hippie in training. :D

  3. Great post-right on!


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