Research from Yeo Valley Organic (www.yeovalley.co.uk) has revealed a nutritional divide for the nation’s tots. Some babies are being brought up on organic foods while others are being weaned on fast food, pizzas and Chinese takeaways. Nearly a quarter of the new mums interviewed for the report said that they would allow their babies to start eating fast food such as burgers, chips and fried chicken from a year old. A third of mothers in England and Wales said they would wait until their children were two. Only 3.5% of mums in the UK said that they would ban fast food altogether at any age.
Organic Baby Food
On the other hand, two thirds of parents interviewed claimed to feed their children organic food at least some of the time. Forty-two per cent of baby food sales are now organic. There has been a remarkable surge in growth in just the last twelve years, since the first organic baby food ranges were launched in the UK by Baby Organix and Boots in 1993. The market is now worth £63 million and is one of the fastest developing in all food areas.
Many parents are happy to pay a little extra for peace of mind. As well as the general benefits for all ages of fresh organic produce, such as avoiding GM ingredients and chemical residues, nutritionists strongly advise parents to encourage healthy eating habits from an early age. Processed foods with high levels of salt, sugar and fats are blamed for the alarming rise in obesity in children. One in five children under the age of four is overweight according to the British Medical Journal. Also, children’s vital organs are less able to deal with toxins than adults and so water-soluble pesticide residues can circulate more easily in their sensitive systems.
With a little effort, home-made organic fruit and vegetable purees can be more cost effective than buying ready-made jars. You can prepare a large quantity at a time, say from a vegetable box supply, and freeze in small portions to save time in the future. Potatoes, carrots, pumpkins, butternut squash, courgette and parsnip can all be steamed until soft and then made into a puree in a blender or pushed through a sieve. Apple, prunes, dried apricots, peaches and pear purees can also be prepared in advance and frozen. Fruit and vegetable purees can be frozen for six months. Try using ice cube trays for individual portions. You can simply pop out a cube and defrost it in the fridge before slowly reheating.
Of course, for most parents, a balanced diet is the sensible and practical answer. A total ban on fast food can be unrealistic to enforce and the cost of organic food will put many off a purely organic diet. However, it is worth introducing wholesome, tasty food at this young age to protect children from additives, pesticides, health scares and obesity, plus giving them a chance to develop a taste for healthy fruit and vegetables. It might even help in getting them to eat their greens when they get older.