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Identifying Healthy Baby Food

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By SustainLane/Divine Caroline

Babies demand protection. Their systems are smaller and more delicate than those of adults, and their development hinges on quality care. The developing immune systems, central-nervous systems, and hormonal systems in babies are all at risk of damage from PCBs, heavy metals, and other toxins found in the environment.

Organic baby food has the same advantages that any organic product has: you know the ingredients were not treated with noxious pesticides. Those pesticides won’t be on your food, and weren’t introduced into the environment. Since commercial baby food is often made of condensed fruits or vegetables, it is at risk of containing concentrated amounts of pesticides compared with the original ingredients.

What to Look for When Buying Baby Food
There is, at present, no national definition or set of standards for “organic” baby food. Some brands use state certification, while others set their own guidelines. As with food you’d buy for yourself, read labels carefully. Whatever baby food you choose should be free of added salt, sugars, fillers, starches, and preservatives. You can also look closely at the brand website for a number of specific practices that ensure the foods are safer, healthier, and more nutritious:

* Does the produce come from farms that have been synthetic pesticide—and fertilizer—free for three years? This time lag between conventional and truly organic farming is necessary for residual pesticide and synthetic fertilizers to filter out of the soil.
* Do growers enrich their soil with cover crops, crop rotation, natural fertilizer, and compost? These natural means of maintaining soil health and production capacity are signs of a healthy, sustainable farm.
* Do growers use biological pest controls? Ladybugs, natural pest enemies, and other methods allow growers to forego toxic pesticides.
* Do meat and dairy products come from animals that have not been treated with hormones or antibiotics? Excess hormones and unnecessary antibiotics can interfere with the delicate endocrine and immune systems of babies.
* Is there minimal post-harvest processing?

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