Trying to decipher between what is a marketing ploy and what is a justifiable reason to buy or avoid certain foods for Charlie is a daunting task - and really not one I have the time or patience for. Keeping in line with my overall approach to parenthood, I'm trying not to freak out about it. Instead, I'll try and freak you out about it.
Food offerings for the toddler set are confusing and I spend a lot of time in the baby food aisle arguing with myself about overreacting vs. Just Buy It and go home. I typically just throw up my hands and spend the extra money 'just in case'. This is sometimes a forced reaction when grocery shopping with Brad, who rushes me. I think he finds it boring to watch me weigh my 47 options for oatmeal, graham crackers, pasta, bananas, etc. Yeah, I don't know why either.
Here's an example of my inner debate: "organic" is a (successful) marketing ploy (in my opinion, which is the gist of this blog) but I still buy organic food for Charlie to eat because the thought of any sophisticated, engineered chemicals going into my 22 pounds of lovin' makes me a bit ill. Such inner conflict!
On any given shopping trip, after spending too much time looking at all the food, I give up the fight, buy the 'organic' Gerber and Good Earth food and sleep incrementally better that night. Granted, I am probably just another sucker that helps keeps numerous creative marketing professionals employed. But I can live with that.
There is another ploy (I think, haven't researched) with this whole "DHA for brain and eye development" foods. Ironically you can not get the DHA stuff in organic foods so either your kid eats pesticides or is stupid and has bad vision. DECIDE Mommy Shopper! And Hurry! Brad already has the cart halfway to the checkout!
The main thing that has me paranoid at this point, whether it's right or wrong (like I have enough free time to find out for sure) is food coloring. Back when we were kids, natural things were used to color foods - like turmeric made foods more yellow. However, now food coloring is mainly synthetic because it's cheaper to make.
My 10 minutes of rushed internet research taught me that Red #40 and Yellow #5 are particularly bad. They are attributed to hyperactivity, learning problems and other Bad Things in children. I thought, just to be safe, I'll keep an eye out for these and try to avoid giving them to Charlie.
Except they are in everything. Yogurt, ice cream, Nutri-grain bars, canned rolls, cake mix, BBQ sauce, mac & cheese, salad dressing. It's insane. No telling how much of this stuff the average human eats. I'm not sure how long I can keep the Red and Yellow out of Charlie but he's already such a spaz, I may not even be able to tell if they make him hyperactive. Like my other food decisions for him, the best I can do is try here.
Last weekend my sister Meredith brought up a very valid point that if you are going to put your energy into anything food-related, it should be in eating locally. Now that I can get on board with. However, Charlie eats a lot of baby food and that is not local. I could buy local produce and turn it into baby food if I had extra time on my hands. Such a big IF. Such a big, non-happening IF. So instead we occasionally eat canned Virginia Brunswick stew and that's about the best this tired working Mommy can do.
I'd continue trying to freak you out out but I do believe it's time to go pack Charlie an organic, non-local, dye-free, DHA-filled lunch for daycare tomorrow! Bon Appetit kiddo!