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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Kids and Junk Food


  Jelly! 
  Originally uploaded by Foodmomiac.

This week, a question from one of my favorite bloggers:

Dear Foodmomiac,

How bad are French Fries for my 13 month old. Give it to me straight. I can take it.

Love,
Mom 101

Dear Liz,

I'm glad you asked me this now, on my second kid, and not four years ago. It seems cliche to say it, but by the second kid, you start to realize what's important and what's not, and you can not sweat the small stuff (at least not MOST of the time).

Here's what IS important (according to me, of course):

- Organic Milk: I think that hormones in milk are causing our girls to menstruate early and our boys to have boobs. This freaks me out. I think that antibiotics in milk are causing our kids to be immune to many antibiotics. This terrifies me. Milk makes up a huge part of most kids' diet, so to have that part consisting of bad stuff is not acceptable. I buy organic milk, and I try to make sure it's from smaller farms, because some of the mass-produced organic milk is organic only by the skin of its teeth. And that's not ok with me.

- Organic Fruits and Vegetables: It is not possible to buy organic produce all of the time. However, according to the August, 2006 Gourmet, "a 2003 study by the Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Working Group found 192 different pesticides on 46 fresh fruits and vegetables and determined that consumers can lower their risk of pesticide exposure by as much as 90 percent by buying organic varieties of the top 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables.
 
       Fruits
       apples
       cherries
       imported grapes
       nectarines
       peaches
       pears
       red raspberries
       strawberries

       Vegetables
       bell peppers
       celery
       potatoes
       spinach (whole other set of issues now, though)

So, I try to buy organic varieties of the above. Buying in season helps me to adhere to this policy (organic strawberries out of season are cost-prohibitive, IMO, so strawberries are a summer thing in our family), and buying local is a loophole that I take advantage of quite frequently. If I'm choosing between an organic imported peach and a local peach bought direct from the farmer, I choose local. It is very expensive to be certified organic, so you can often identify pesticide-free produce that isn't labeled organic just by chatting with the farmer who grew it.

- I refuse to enforce double standards, and this answers your original question. I love french fries. I love chocolate. Ice cream makes me very happy, as do cookies and cake. I don't feed these things to my kids ALL of the time, but they get them a lot, because I eat them a lot. I don't worry about this because they also get a ton of more nutritious food. Life should be fun. Food should be fun.

- I enforce the family dinner rule as much as possible. We can't always do this. Last night, Michael didn't get home from work until nearly 7. The kids ate on their own. But, when we can, we eat together, and that's important to me.

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