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Reasons to Go Organic Baby Food instead of Non-Organic Baby Food
Non-organic baby food contains vegetables & fruits with chemical pesticides and meats with antibiotics or growth hormones. There are also preservatives, starchy fillers, thickening agents, artificial flavors or colors. Organic baby food can minimize your baby’s exposures to these dangerous chemicals. Organic labels have to meet strict government standards and regulations for their organic food. All organic baby food listed below have a USDA certified organic label. USDA certified means the manufacturer has to use at least 95% organic ingredients. USDA looks at how those organic food is grown, processed, packaged and shipped. When food is grown, processed, packaged and shipped, no synthetic pesticides, petroleum-based fertilizers, synthetic growth hormones, artificial colors, flavors or preservatives, No GMOs or ionizing radiation should be used. For meats, poultry and dairy products, no antibiotics or hormones are allowed. Also, the animals have to be fed only organic, vegetarian feed and live in an appropriate housing and conditions which doesn’t jeopardize animals’ health, safety, or well-being.
Additives/ Preservatives in Organic Baby Food
So organic baby food uses at least 95% organic ingredients, then what is in that 5%? Some of the organic baby food use preservatives. Commonly used preservatives are Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), Citric acid, or Lemon juice concentrate. They are mostly used with fruit or vegetable and fruit mix purees. Bacteria can’t grow in acidic environment so many food companies use ascorbic acid, citric asid or lemon juice concentrate as a preservative. Citric acid is also used by many drink or food companies to enhance citric flavor. So what are they? Let’s take a look.
Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) – Ascorbic acid is synthetic vitamin C. It is usually synthesized from GMO corn.
Citric Acid – Getting citric acid from natural fruit is not economical so most of the time citric acid is chemically produced with the mold, Aspergillus niger.
Lemon Juice Concentrate – To make lemon juice concentrate, water is removed from lemon and dried up to make powder. This powder is called concentrate. Removing water concentrates the natural sugar more, and makes a lemon
juice concentrate very sweet. If the lemon used is not organic, it will have pesticides.
Health Effect from Ascorbic Acid, Citric Acid or Lemon Juice Concentrate
Dr. Jamie Koufman and Dr. Jordan Stern, authors of The Reflux Diet Cookbook found that acid preservatives in baby food can cause reflux in babies. (read more here.) Added acid increases acidity in baby’s food and it can upset the baby’s stomach. If the baby food already has an acidic fruit such as an apple in it, the food will become more acidic by an added acid preservative. Many pediatricians suggest that babies with reflux avoid acidic food. The authors of the book also said that having acidic food sometimes is okay but it shouldn’t be a regular diet for the baby. In addition, acidic foods such as citrus fruits are not recommended for babies under 12 months because their stomach can not handle them well. As you would see in author’s finds, not all baby food with acid preservatives, is highly acidic (a PH of greater than 5 should be fed to babies.), however, some of them are. Therefore, if you have a baby with reflux or just want to avoid acidic food, get the baby food without acid preservatives or select the one with an ingredient that is not acidic.
Homemade Baby Food VS Store Bought Baby Food
Food has to be cooked in a very high temperature to have a long shelf life (usually about 2 years) for the store bought baby food. This process of cooking is to ensure food is not contaminated and is sterilized so that it can be preserved for a long time. However, in this process, many nutrients are killed. For non-organic baby food, often starchy fillers, thickening agents, artificial flavors, artificial colors or artificial preservatives are added to the baby food. After all this process, baby food will have very little nutrients compared to homemade baby food. Organic brands don’t use starchy fillers, thickening agents, artificial flavors , artificial colors or artificial preservatives so it is much better than non-organic baby food. However, it still has to be cooked at very high temperature so the nutrients will be less than your homemade baby food. Homemade food is more fresh, more nutritious and you know exactly what goes into the food so making your own baby food will be the best.
On the other hand, store bought baby food is very convenient. They often come in a jar or a pouch. You can put only the amount of food that you are going to feed your baby in a bowl and you can just store the rest of it in the fridge. (in the same jar or pouch). Baby can also self-feed with the pouch. It is also ready-to-eat food so you do not need to cook, defrost or warm which is a lot less work. I personally cooked my own baby food a lot. However, I also used a lot of commercial organic baby food too when I got too busy or when I needed food right away but didn’t have food prepared. Store bought baby food also came in very handy when I went to places with my baby. I didn’t have to worry about packing the food, just grabbed one of these pouches and that was it. Also, Stage 2 and Stage 3 organic baby foods have several ingredients in one pouch. (Sweet potato, Pear, Broccoli, Spinach for example) This means, my baby can eat many different ingredients and benefit several nutrients at once without me going shopping for all of these ingredients. Store bought baby food did save time for me. Also, baby sometimes doesn’t like to eat a certain vegetable or meat (spinach for example) because she doesn’t like the taste of it. In this case, you can try to offer a pouch with that particular vegetable or meat mixed with other ingredients. (spinach, raspberry and yogurt for example) She may like the taste and not notice that vegetable (spinach) in the food. Store bought baby food is very convenient, however, it is more expensive than homemade baby food.
For the nutritional value, I would pick organic baby foods that have whole organic ingredients than the ones that are pureed ingredients. For example, I would select the food that states ‘organic pear’, not ‘organic pear puree’ as an ingredient. I would also look at the first ingredient in the jar or pouch if the first ingredient is water. Unless the dish is supposed to be a soup, you don’t want baby food that is diluted with water. Having whole ingredients or having water as a last ingredient will be more nutritious.
Organic Baby Food That Doesn’t have Ascorbic Acid, Citric Acid or Lemon Concentrate
Sprout Organic Baby Food Pouches
Sprout Organic Baby food is made with USDA certified organic, non-GMO ingredients and contains no preservatives, concentrates, additives, artificial colors, flavors, added sugar, fillers of any kind or anything artificial. They don’t use lemon juice concentrate, citric acid or ascorbic acid in their ingredients as other organic baby food brands do. In addition, they use actual whole organic ingredients, not pureed organic ingredients.
Ella’s Kitchen Organic Baby Food Pouches
Ella’s Kitchen Organic baby food has no GMO, preservatives, thickeners, additives, gluten, wheat, dairy, lactose, lumps or bits, anything artificial, added water, salt or sugar. Their products are Kosher and USDA Organic certified. They use <1% lemon concentrate for fruits and veggies. Ingredients are also whole organic ingredients, not pureed organic ingredients.