Healthy Living

The food we eat… is organic really organic? (and give ethnic foods a chance!)

When I started thinking about having a baby, I started changing the type of foods I ate. I gave up soda, I switched to organic milk and eggs, ate organic when possible, I avoided high fructose corn syrup and I started taking folic acid. When I was pregnant, I started reading everything on food labels because I wanted to know what the hell I was going to  be putting in my body, and then when Baby E was born, I lucked out and was gifted the Beaba Baby Cook, which is an amazing machine that steams and blends food, so I decided to make his food (and buy organic to feed him).

I’m a fan of Earth’s Best products, mainly because I think they are good quality and more affordable than other organic baby brands. As my son started tasting “table food” I realized that I cannot feed him 100% organic, for a few reasons: first, that can be quite costly, second, since the whole world isn’t organic, I want him to be exposed to the kinds of things he will be exposed to everyday. I still read labels, and as a result I have discovered products that I love which use ingredients that I do not want in my baby’s diet, so I have eliminated them (sorry Sazon Goya.)

I also look for products with REAL SUGAR which is a difficult task, since HFCS seems to creep up everywhere.   But I may have found a way around this problem, (one that also might be cheaper than buying organic) … I buy international products. I am lucky that my in-laws live in Europe so they send me baby cookies and other products that do not contain HFCS, and also, my family sends me cookies and other food from Ecuador, where they do not use HFCS either… and because I live in an ethnically diverse neighborhood, I can go to the local supermarket and peruse the ethnic aisle and find different products with less chemical and more natural ingredients (probably less sugar too!) What is ironic is that people in many countries see the United States as a great place that has the best of everything and here I am advocating for purchasing products from abroad, when people abroad can’t get enough of American products!

I started thinking about all of this because I recently read a NYTimes article about Organic food, “Has Organic been oversized?” http://nyti.ms/MhJgLs This article discusses how the integrity of organic food is being compromised and how Big Food is buying up the organic labels and is “corrupting” the organic food market. Unfortunately, I believe this. I think Big Food is out to make profits, and they don’t give a rat’s ass about people’s health or using ingredients that are questionable or that have unknown side effects. Ever since food started being mass produced, it is not about quality it is about quantity and profits. Quality has gone done the drain. It is really quite sad, and it is going to hurt a lot of people in the long run. Just a small tidbit from this great article: in 2002, there were 77 non-organic products that were “ok” to be put in organic food; today that list is over 250 products!

Why should we care? Because we should care about what goes in our bodies, in our children’s bodies. Why is this a problem? Because in the long run, bad food is detrimental to our health and as a result has become (as we have seen with the growing obesity pandemic) a societal problem we must address.

Of course, today we are increasingly aware of the obesity pandemic, but what about other illnesses that are linked to or suspected to be caused  due to food dyes or other chemicals? that’s a whole other story!)

If I am paying 20% more or whatever ridiculous amount more it is for food that is labeled “organic” I expect to not have to worry about what additives or non-organic elements are in my food. I expect to get what I pay for.

Big Food: you really need to stop messing with my organic food. Stop taking a perfectly good thing and diluting it and making it crappy. I hope more people stop buying the bad products you’re selling so that you will get a clue.

To end with a positive note, here are some products worth checking out in the ethnic food aisle in your grocery:

** Jarritos  or Mexican Coca-Cola – Our neighbor down south uses REAL sugar in its sodas, Jarritos comes in a whole bunch of different flavors (like mandarina & tamarindo!) and if you taste Coca-Cola with real sugar, you will never go back! (also wouldnt hurt to send Coca-Cola an angry msg via twitter about their use of HFCS in the United States)

**Greek nectar juices: (sorry don’t know the name… the bottle is in Greek!) they come in liter sizes (about a quart) and are made with real sugar!

** Galletas Amor – thin wafer cookies with cream inside-come in different flavors: chocolate, strawberry and vanilla. (Baby E’s favorite—usually sent over from Ecuador by family, but I found this at the local Key Food for $1.49 a pack!)

I invite you to share with me any other finds that you may have from your home countries, that are healthy and delicious! @dianalimongi on twitter!

Diana Limongi
welcome! I'm a Latina working mom from Astoria, NY, mom to a trilingual four-year old. I blog about motherhood, Latino issues, women's issues, work/life balance, food, parenting and raising my multilingual and multicultural son!

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