Posts Tagged ‘Simple Food’

Nutritional Intelligence

I’m at the age in life where I have friends having babies and the conversation around what they feed them comes up a lot. Apparently when they started reading what’s in the baby food jars they can’t believe the ‘stuff’ included so they have been making food themselves.

I came across a new book called Feeding Baby Green, by one of the country’s pre-eminent pediatricians, Dr. Alan Greene. His book posits a unique, forward-thinking 34-month guide to train your baby’s palate to appreciate the more complex flavors of healthy, unprocessed foods and I thought it would be an interesting read for those interested. Excerpt from Healthy Child Healthy World below:

Every parent is keen to find a way to engender healthy eating habits in their child. “Parents today have an unprecedented awareness and eagerness about the necessity of providing safe, wholesome, nutritious foods for their children”, says Dr. Greene. And yet today’s parents are burdened by economic constraints and severely limited time. The book reports that 80% of parents are unable to feed their children healthy foods because they are inconvenient, unavailable in their communities, or their children don’t like the taste.

What is the connection between what a pregnant woman eats and what her baby experiences? Dr. Greene explains that babies actually have a food life in utero, and the habits they establish in the first years after birth can have a lasting influence on their attitudes to food.

He refutes the claim by some  that it is impossible to get kids to eat healthy foods because they simply don’t like the taste. Dr. Greene believes that babies’ taste-buds can become easily programmed for the extra-sugar, extra-salt, extra starch that is every present in processed and take-out food. But if they are exposed to the “rainbow of flavors”, as he calls it, they can establish a preference for fruits and vegetables early on. This is his core thesis – something he calls “nutritional intelligence”.

“Baby food”, Dr. Greene reminds us, is a myth. Commercial baby food was an invention of 20th century food corporations, enforcing the theory that babies need meals separate from the fruits, vegetables and seasonings the rest of the family consume. Pointed and pervasive advertising convinced mothers that good baby food was scientific, uniform, twice boiled, and sold in jars.

Dr. Greene lays out a clear yet flexible how-to program, incorporating many techniques and angles, all of which is tailored to the baby’s current development stage. The time frames are general enough to work for most families, and allow enough wiggle room for customization.

Many of Feeding Baby Green‘s suggestions are both revolutionary and fundamental – breaking new molds yet also revisiting older traditions. He writes about engaging all of the baby’s senses when learning about food and eating. Flavor, aroma, touch, sights, sounds and language, these are all tools that help you make food a joyous experience. He also counsels on proper amounts, the right variety, and varying repetition with novelty.

Throughout the book, Dr. Greene offers a host of tempting recipes to make for baby at home: Bombay Vegetable Stew, Chickpeas and Tomatoes Provence, Baba Ganoush! There’s very little puree of this or cream of that. These recipes are meant for the culinary delight of the whole family.

Dr. Greene infuses Feeding Baby Green with a connection to the earth, to our food source, and to the truism that we are what we eat. He believes firmly that what is good for the planet is good for your family. As a Board Member of Healthy Child Healthy World, his outlook and practice are always consistent with the advice we offer parents. Much of his book is devoted to educating parents on the dangers of GMO crops, pesticides in agriculture, chemical additives in our food, and prevention of allergies and asthma. Dr. Greene is also a renowned advocate for organic foods, believing they not only keep us healthier but ensure our environment receives protection and nourishment as well.

And throughout, he draws on his wisdom as a practicing pediatrician, his first hand experience as a father of four children, and his family’s journey through his beloved wife’s battle with cancer. (She won!!!) Taking on this endeavor seems less daunting because Dr. Greene’s meticulous guide reassures the reader that they’ve got a friend in the kitchen with them.

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Fed Up: School Lunch Project

I stumbled across a new blog yesterday called Fed Up: School Lunch Project. The premise is that a school teacher has decided to eat the school lunch where she works for a year to help raise awareness around the need for better nutrition and quality of food within our national school system.  My mother-in-law has worked as a elementary school lunch lady for the last year and a half (she just ‘retired’) so this blog really struck home to me as one of the main issues my mother-in-law noted was the nutritional value of what they were asked to serve the kids. I want to be clear here, I’m in no way putting down the food that is served as I know for some kids this is the only good meal they get a day and that it’s offered to them either for free or subsidized. It just makes me want to get more involved in our nation’s conversation around the importance of diet, health and how what we feed our kids today manifests later life.

Simple Sells

My friend @emilynichols shared a story this morning from USA Today called “Marketers such as Starbucks discover that simple sells” my first thought on seeing the headline was “of course!!!”

The article notes (I’ve bolded my fav statement)

Companies that offer products with the fewest number of ingredients compared with rivals stand to win big in 2010, says Lynn Dornblaser, trends guru at Mintel. Mintel has tracked decreases this year in the average number of ingredients in 19 product categories including dairy products, processed meats and even pet foods.

Consumers these days not only want to know what’s in the stuff they eat and drink — they want to know what’s not. In a nation bedeviled by a whirlwind of food scares and mounting worries about the healthiness of a plethora of things commonly used in processed foods, folks increasingly are demanding cleaner food labels: no artificial food colorings (some of which have been linked to hyperactivity in children), no chemical additives (such as MSG) and no chemical preservatives (such as BHA). If they can’t pronounce it, consumers don’t want it.

The new marketing code word being used to boast about fewer ingredients: simple. From 2005 to 2008, there’s been a 64.7% increase in new products using the words “simple” or “simply” in the product or brand name, reports researcher Datamonitor.

In 2010, products that tout simplified labels will be more sought after than those clinging to the formerly hot buzzwords “organic” or “natural,” says Dornblaser.

At its simplest, simple sells.

The food business has always been ingenious at turning any criticism into a new way to sell food to us,” says Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto. The best-selling book popularized the notion of buying only foods with five or fewer ingredients. “As soon as you stress fewer ingredients, you’re implying that the food is healthy.”

I totally agree with Michael Pollan’s statement. Just because something has fewer ingredients doesn’t mean it’s good for you. One of the products that I think really demonstrates this is Soybeans. We think soy and health right? Not so if the soy isn’t non-GMO (non-genetically modified organism).

Out of anyone I know Tim is the best about making sure the foods we buy don’t contain ingredients we don’t want or need. It’s an eye-opening experience to make yourself evaluate everything you put in your shipping cart – not only from what’s on the label but who makes the products to get an understanding of their farming practices….can get a bit scary at times.  Next time you are buying pasta, take a look at what’s included – it should just be duram wheat and water right? Let me know what you find.