As I mentioned in a previous post, I recently had the idea to start up my own baby food business using primarily in-season, locally grown produce with organic produce filling in the spots. (Like right now. Winter is the season of leafy greens and squashes. Not much in the way of fruits right now.) This, of course, has led me to do some research on nutrition and the health of all of us, not just babies.
Inevitably, I was faced with a horrifying but not entirely unexpected reality: I feed my family crap.
I want to use my usual excuse: we’re broke. (I want to say “poor,” but Dave Ramsey would shake his finger at me. Just a momentary glitch…that’s lasted 5 years…..) We have gone through phases of ramen, hot dogs, and Hamburger Helper every night. I have a tendency to pick up those variety packs of flavored oatmeal and the rainbow rice cereal for #1 and I (though I avoid anything that brightly colored. I have a fear that my poo will come out colored, after a bad experience eating Mardi Gras-colored bread one time. It was scarring.) I’m not really sure why I feed it to my kid, since I won’t eat it. Maybe to make his shrieks of desire stop at the store? And I buy #2 Mum-mums (not entirely bad) and Honey Buzzers. I didn’t think about the fact that Honey Buzzers have the label “sweetened corn cereal” for a reason. Namely, because they’re sweetened to high heaven.
We won’t mention the hordes of unhealthy food my husband and I eat. Ok, we will. Hot dogs, canned baked beans, and cornbread in a bag were last night’s dinner. Ah, dinner for champions! Not at all. Root beer, ice cream, bags upon bags of chips, coffee with extra creamer and three sweet-and-lows, sweetened cheerios, salt seasoning out the wazoo, heavily-buttered vegetables, not real butter but margarine on EVERYTHING. Need I go on? We’ve gotten better over the past few months as I strive towards less canned goods and more fresh foods, but they’re still there, staring at me from my fridge door, calling to me from my pantry.
And I will be frank with you. As much as I know that the health gurus out there would demand I empty my house of every last gram of artificial sugar and high-sodium product, I won’t. Because we’re broke. Will I go buy more of it? Definitely not. Will I possibly try to eat it all myself so that my kids don’t? It’s highly likely. Will we be eating farm-fresh, locally grown food immediately? Heck no. That stuff’s delicious, but way out of our price range right now. That doesn’t mean I won’t begin buying more produce, cooking with more produce, experimenting. Today, for example, I am cutting all liquids out of my family’s diet except for steeped tea (with honey if it needs to be sweet) and water. No more milk for drinking, no more kool-aid packs, no more instant tea out of a box. Fingers crossed for hubby to keep to it at work, but I’ll settle for just at home, too.
All this goes to say that I am shocked and even more driven to set up this baby food business. If my family’s eating is this horrendous and I’ve watched documentaries like “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead” and “Vegucated,” how much worse are the average American families eating? What are we starting our kids off with? Even moreso, what have we been sold is “good for us?”
Right now, I’m looking at a box of Mum-mums, apple flavored. A serving of 4 “rusks,” (which they aren’t, because rusks are traditionally double-baked cookies or breads, like biscotti) has 30 calories. Not bad. It also has 25 mg of sodium, with 3% protein. Now, my baby eats maybe one and gets tired of it, but there is literally NO OTHER nutritional value to these things. They are fillers. They have “rice, potato starch, sugar, apple powder, salt, and natural apple flavor.” That doesn’t sound like a heck of a lot. The fact that I can find no where how to get a baked good to be so light, airy, and easily-dissolveable has me wary, as well. What happened to the nutrients? What happened to the real fruit, not just the fruit “powder?” And why is it made in China? (Nevermind. I know the answer to that one.)
Right now, my boys are laughing hysterically at each other while they wait for me to go get #2. I love that sound. I want to hear it for a very, very long time. If I’m feeding them empty, tasteless and nutrient-less food, I’m sabotaging both them and my desire.
The reality sucks. I’m poisoning my family. And that is going to change.