Is Organic Food Right for Your Baby?

There’s no doubt about it: going organic is a growing trend in America. Should your baby go organic, too?

First, let’s define exactly what “organic” means. All agricultural products that are organically grown must meet the National Organic Program’s (NOP’s) standards for production, handling, and processing. NOP defines organic food as that grown without using most conventional pesticides, fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge, bioengineering, or ionizing radiation. Animal-based organic products, such as milk, eggs, meat, and poultry, contain no growth hormones or antibiotics.

With the current movement toward a “green” world, however, labeling may prove confusing. Although some manufacturers advertise products as “natural,” “sustainable,” or “locally grown,” that doesn’t necessarily mean they are organic. Be an informed consumer and read labels carefully when shopping for organic items.

Making Your Own

An organic approach to health is not an “all-or-nothing” venture. You can make small changes to integrate alternative approaches into your family’s daily routine. Take baby steps—literally—and make inexpensive yet healthy baby food with organic fruits and veggies. It can save money, plus you know exactly where the ingredients are coming from.

First, wash and peel all produce, being careful to remove all seeds and pits. Boil, steam, or bake food until tender, and then puree or mash with a food processor or blender. Don’t add any sweetener or seasoning—honey may carry botulism spores and can be dangerous to your baby. Also, be sure to refrigerate or freeze baby food as soon as possible.

Store-bought Options

You can always find organic baby food at your local grocery store, too. Gerber® has its own line of organic products, and specialty health food stores also offer a variety of organic food for your baby. To be labeled “USDA organic,” baby food must be at least 95 percent organic, according to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) standards. This means that all but 5 percent of the food was made without pesticides and fertilizers. Store-bought organic baby food is typically more expensive than non-organic, so try to look for sales and buy in bulk to cut down on costs.

Online Medical Reviewer: Desrosiers, Florence MD

Date Last Reviewed: 4/2/2010

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