I sometimes wander the baby-food aisle in the grocery stores, reading the ingredients on the packaging. I started doing this when Audrey was old enough for solid food, curious as to the options.
What I’ve seen has shocked me. I knew that the nutrition in packaged food is horrible but something inside me wanted to believe that packaged food for babies would be be of a higher caliber.
I’d like to think that the baby food industry has nutrition foremost in their mind when designing food products for our precious children, but this is not the case. Unfortunately, I’m afraid most of us trust these “professionals” to have the best interests of our children at heart.
Throughout the next few weeks I’m going to go through several of these baby-food products. I’m going to list out the ingredients. The ingredients that concern me the most will be in bold, and I will give a short description that summarizes my concern. We need to get this information out there!
Note: nutrition for babies and children is something I’m extremely passionate about. My intensity is directed at the baby food manufacturers and anyone else who knows better. My intention is to inform parents, not to berate them for something they may have fed their child. Most of my friends have used Gerber Gratuates products. If you know me personally and you’re reading this, it certainly isn’t directed at you.
Having said that, today our culprit is…
Gerber Graduates for Toddlers: Strawberry Banana Cereal Bar.
Ingredients (as listed on the back of the cereal bar):
- Enriched bleached flour [wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid] – We all know that refined flour is bad for us, so why on earth is it the number one ingredient in a baby food item?
- Whole grain oats – oats are a healthy food item in the context of a nutrient dense diet containing lots of saturated fat. This cereal bar contains no healthy fat or naturally occurring fat-soluble vitamins. In this context, oats are more harmful than helpful and have been linked to a high rate of tooth decay.
- Sugar – Sugar? The third ingredient in a baby food??? Need I say more?
- High oleic sunflower oil – Cold-pressed sunflower oil is healthy and beneficial. However, it should never be used in cooking or baking because it oxidizes. Sunflower oil in baked goods (like cereal bars) is rancid and contributes greatly to the development of heart disease.
- High fructose corn syrup – Not just more sugar, but a very sinister kind. High fructose corn syrup raises triglycerides and puts a toxic load on the liver. It leads to the development of diabetes.
- Whole wheat flour
- Tricalcium phosphate
- Corn syrup – more sugar
- Dextrose – more sugar
- Nonfat dry milk – even conventional medicine has finally recognized the fact that growing children need full-fat milk. Why on earth are they still putting non-fat milk in baby food?
- Soy lecithin – Unfermented soy is a strong hormone disruptor and has been linked to cancer.
- potassium bicarbonate
- natural flavor - there is no regulation on the term “natural flavor,” and it is often used to hide MSG and other chemicals.
- zinc sulfate
- alpha tocopherol acetate [vitamin E]
- electrolytic iron
- thiamin mononitrate
- pyridoxine hydrochloried
- vitamin B12
- High fructose corn syrup – more sugar
- Dried apples
- Sugar – and even more sugar
- Dextrose - and even more sugar
- Dried bananas
- Glycerin – an alcohol based sweetener
- Modified cornstarch - this is another name for MSG (monosodium glutamate), a potent excitotoxin which has been linked to seizures in babies
- Dried strawberries
- Cellulose gel – our bodies are not designed to digest cellulose, and it is even more harmful to babies, whose digestive systems are immature.
- Citric acid
- Natural flavor
- Elderberry extract color
- Xanthan gum
- Cellulose gum
- Soy lecithin – more soy
- Strawberry juice concentrate
- Most of the items not in bold are “natural” fillers or synthetic “vitamins” and “minerals” Most synthetic vitamins are ineffective at best and toxic at worst. Here’s the thing: you don’t have to add a laundry list of fake vitamins to real food. We need to be feeding our children real, nutrient-dense food, full of vitamins and minerals that are naturally occurring, in the proper ratios, and bioavailable. Synthetic vitamins are none of the above.
- Sugar is listed seven times (along with an alcohol-based sweetener which adds up to eight sweeteners). Seriously? In a baby food? And we wonder why our kids get sick so often?
- The only ingredients remotely healthful in this cereal bar are the dried fruits. And people are feeding these bars to their toddlers at breakfast. Fruit doesn’t contain enough nutrients for breakfast – not by a long shot. Kids need eggs, milk, properly prepared grains, ect, for breakfast.
The first two years of life are absolutely critical in terms of nutrition; they literally determine the course of health for the rest of a person’s life. Children need to be eating nutrient dense foods and instead they are eating this junk. Let’s get the word out about what they are putting in our baby food!
Photo used under Creative Commons from shopping.com