How To Know If Baby Food is Safe and Organic
Trying to find safe, organic baby food can be exhausting. We made this guide to help you know what to look for and how to choose the best food for your little one!
How To Know If Baby Food is Safe and Organic
For years, it has been a challenge to find healthy, organic baby food made fresh and safe for your little one. With the increase in preservatives allowed by the FDA and food additives, it’s difficult to find good food to fuel your little one. Especially when it comes to added sugars, sodium, and decreased fiber, which a lot of baby food brands contain, finding safe and organic baby food may even seem impossible.
To add the icing on the cake, baby food has been getting a lot of attention recently, especially store-bought brands, because of recent reports of heavy metals and toxins in baby foods. Does this mean the already preservative-packed, sugary food now might contain arsenic or lead?
If you feel fed-up just reading this—well, that’s how we felt. That’s why we made YUMI. When it seems impossible to find safe baby food for your little one, we decided to take matters into our own hands (and the hands of our scientists and nutritionists).
This guide breaks down how you can know that baby food is safe and organic for your little one.
What Does it Mean To Be Safe?
People toss around words like “healthy” and “safe” and “natural,” but what do these mean? There are three important qualities of safe baby food.
1. Heavy Metal Free
The first characteristic of safe baby food is food free of heavy metals.
What Are Heavy Metals?
Heavy metals include arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury. They are elements naturally found in the soil, but when they come in contact with foods—especially baby foods—they can be dangerous to our health and wellness.
Why Are They Dangerous?
Heavy metals can be dangerous to health. Your baby’s body is tiny and is rapidly developing, so everything that goes into their body is used as fuel for this development and has a large impact on their health. This is why we pack all of our foods with as many nutrients as we can—because every bite counts!
The heavy metals found in some of the most trusted baby food brands have been linked to various negative health conditions. They can hinder cognitive development, learning abilities, physical growth, and have been connected with mental health issues, and ear problems.
Where Do They Come From?
While heavy metals are naturally occurring in the soil, they are not naturally occurring in food. So, where do they come from? There are two main ways these toxins can get into baby foods. The first way is through water run-off. Water travels from soil contaminated with heavy metals to soil that’s growing crops and contaminates produce there.
They can also result from the handling and manufacturing process. For example, cooking water, metal food equipment, and kitchen utensils, and extreme temperatures can lead to heavy metals being present in baby foods.
How Can You Find Food Free Of Heavy Metals?
Safe baby food does not contain heavy metals!
Here’s how to look for these safe foods:
- Look for heavy metal fighting foods such as tomatoes, blueberries, spirulina, garlic, broccoli, kale, beans, kiwi, papaya, and peppers.
- Avoid foods known to be high in heavy metals such as rice, soy, and fruit juice (especially apple and grape).
- Instead of rotating between the same few baby foods and flavors, serve your little one a variety of foods! If you don’t know where to find variety, don’t worry. We have over 60 organic meals handmade for your little one!
- Use grain alternatives such as quinoa. Rice tends to absorb arsenic more quickly than most foods, and while it has nutrition, too, the risk is not worth it. By serving quinoa instead, you provide nutrients and avoid this risk.
Many parents also want to look for foods that are allergen-free for their little ones! Especially if you have a history of allergies in your family or your little one has eczema, avoiding allergens can sometimes be beneficial. Be sure to talk to your physician about if you should introduce allergens and when.
What Are The Most Significant Allergens?
The most common allergens, or the big-8 allergens, are milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans. While introducing allergens is not right for everyone, recent research shows that it may be beneficial from a young age.
However, we leave this decision up to you. To learn more about the science behind this research and how you can introduce allergens to your babe safely, check out our blog.
3. Always Fresh
While you may not think of “fresh” when you think of “safe” baby foods, freshness is important! Foods that are not fresh have to contain preservatives or artificial ingredients to keep them edible and extend their expiration date. Fresh foods only last a few weeks in the fridge and months in the freezer, but foods that aren’t fresh may last a few years.
The freshness of your baby food often has to do with whether it’s organic or not.
Let’s talk about what it means to be organic.
What Does It Mean to Be Organic?
Another important quality to look for in safe baby food is whether it’s organic. You’ve probably heard this word tossed around a lot, but what does organic mean? Is organic food different from natural food? Let’s find out.
1. Free of Pesticides
Organic food is free of pesticides. However, pesticides are present in 30% to 40% of baby applesauce, green beans, peach purees, and pear purees, according to the Department of Agriculture. There is such a high content of pesticides in some American baby foods that they are banned from being sold in some places overseas.
What Are Pesticides?
Pesticides are substances and chemicals used to kill and repel insects from eating crops. They can control rats, germs, and other pests and prevent them from ruining produce. However, pesticides can be harmful when ingested and especially harmful for children.
How To Look For Pesticide-Free Food
One of the best ways to limit your little one’s exposure to pesticides and keep them safe is by finding organic baby food! Organic foods differ from natural foods in their level of FDA and USDA regulation. Organic foods must follow strict regimens and testing to determine their safety, while natural foods are not regulated by the government. Organic is better and will ensure your child is safe from pesticides and eating fresh ingredients!
2. Free of Additives
Additives are any compound, chemical, preservative, or artificial ingredient that modifies the structure of a food product. They are added to baby foods for a variety of reasons, but they can be harmful.
Additives and preservatives aren’t a new thing. Since people have learned to preserve meat with salt, additives and preservatives have always existed in foods. However, now there are more than ten thousand additives approved by the FDA.
While additives are supposed to “add” things like flavor, texture, taste, and color, they end up taking away essential things such as nutrients and vitamins.
Specific food additives include BPA, Phthalates, PFCs, perchlorate, nitrates, and artificial or synthetic food coloring. Some of their uses include hardening the plastic of containers, preventing static electricity, improved appearance or taste of foods, and enhancing colors. However, they can mess with normal hormone function, development, immune health and cause tumors or brain growth.
Sugar and Salt
In addition, sugar and salt are often used as additives. They preserve ingredients of baby food and give them a longer shelf life. However, excess sugar and salt can lead to problems with heart health, weight gain, and premature liver failure, and damage. In addition to this, what you feed your little one affects their nutrition for the rest of their lives.
Their palettes are especially malleable during the first 1,000 days; you set the stage for their taste preferences and nutrition. Lots of sugars and sodium are added to baby foods, so it’s important to check the ingredients and make sure there are no added sugars and salts.
How To Find Foods Free of Additives:
- Buy organic! Organic foods are free of these additives! By buying fresh, organic baby foods, you can avoid additives, preservatives, and artificial ingredients in baby foods.
- Avoid plastic that contains BPA/BPS. Instead, we use BPA/BPS-free plastic that’s also curbside recyclable.
- Check the ingredients and look for added sugars, salts, or preservatives other than Vitamin D. These are harmful to your little one’s health and are unnecessary additives in baby food.
It can be frustrating to learn how many unsafe chemicals and additives there are in most baby foods and even more frustrating when labels are misleading or difficult to understand. However, keeping your baby safe is essential, as is raising the next generation to be health-conscious.
That’s why we made Yumi. We believe every bite should be rich in nutrients and essential vitamins and minerals so your little one can thrive. To learn more about your baby’s menu, check out our milestone plan here!