Organic baby foods are one of the leading ways that parents are offering the best possible quality of food for their infants and toddlers. The reason for the rapid change and requests for organic baby food stems directly from baby formula and other baby foods being recalled in the last four years. It is estimated that 5 to 6 of the major baby food brands have had at least one recall the last four years. This high rate of recalls has caused parents to look for natural and organic choices for their children.
What Does Organic Mean?
In order to understand the difference between organic baby food and other baby foods, it is necessary to understand what is meant by the term organic. It is a common misconception that the organic food label means natural. In essence, all foods are natural at some point. Organic food simply means that the produce or ingredients within the item were produced without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, radiation or genetically modified organisms. In fact, the most voiced concern regarding any organic food and its organic nature is that it not contain GMO’s or genetically modified organisms.
Providing Organic Baby Food
There are two ways that a parent can provide organic baby food for their infant or toddler. The first method is to purchase organic baby food from an organic food market, specialty store or through a specialty trusted name brand that only produces organic baby food. This process of purchasing organic baby food is sometimes harder than it may seem. Many food companies are now placing the label organic on their food when in fact the food is not organic. This simple act is becoming an increasing problem for parents who want to purchase organic food. In recent months the KASHI organization has been brought up on charges of false advertising by stating that their food is organic when in fact it was only a percentage of their food that met the organic guidelines set by the FDA.
For this reason, parents are now turning away from trusted name brands and looking toward options of creating organic baby food at home. The option of creating organic baby food at home can be done in one of several ways. The first and most common way, is for the parent to purchase fruits and vegetables at local farmers markets, bring them home and steam them. If the child is old enough the vegetables will be steamed and then pureed to feed the child within a certain amount of time. The second option for producing organic baby food at home is to start a hydroponic garden, aquaponic garden or patio urban garden to grow fresh small fruits and vegetables for the purposes of steaming and pureeing them. With the low cost of hydroponic and aquaponic garden options the ability to use these options in small apartments has made this the most popular option for many parents.
Since the purchasing of organic baby foods is primarily a matter of simply going to a baby food markets, specialty store or by the finding a particular organic baby food brain and at an organic markets this guide will deal primarily with creating organic baby food at home and the steps that go into organic baby food. This guide will serve the purpose of being a guide to aspects of organic baby food and the best ways for parent to go about creating that baby food naturally.
Three Ways to Get Organic Baby Food
Earlier we discussed that there were three ways for a parent to get organic baby food for their baby. These three ways are in addition to, of course purchasing organic baby food. The three ways are to purchase fruits and vegetables from a local farmers market, stand or organic food grocery. The second way to get organic baby food is to grow your own fruits and vegetables at home in an urban patio garden, container garden or Homestead Garden setting. The third way to get organic baby food is to grow fruits and vegetables in a hydroponic or aquaponic atmosphere. Let us discuss the three options in a little bit more detail.
Purchasing from a Farmers Market
Most cities will have a farmers market or organic food market that carries local vegetables and fruits. The one drawback for many parents who are looking at providing organic baby food for their baby is that a farmers market may still have pesticides or use of synthetic fertilizers when they are growing their vegetables. The best way to avoid this issue is to know your local farmers. Find out which farmers attend the farmers markets and start conversations with those farmers. It is not hard to find out which farmers are under contract to provide fruits and vegetables in a certain manner vs those farmers that are selling their access crops at the farmers’ market. Keep in mind that regardless of the kind of fertilizers or pesticides used on fruits and vegetables you will still need to rinse them off. Even the most natural of fertilizers has a manure base. The most natural of pesticides has a base that you would not want your baby ingesting. Always remember to wash your fruits and vegetables regardless of the farmer, farmers market or organic food market you purchase them from.
We should take a moment to discuss is purchasing fruits and vegetables from an organic food market. Organic food markets are owned, 85% of the time, by a local family or business owner. This does not necessarily mean that the fruits and vegetables with in the organic market are in fact certified organic or are locally grown by local farmers. This is a common misconception that many new parents have and that many newcomers to organic foods have. Organic Food Stores will, in general offer a healthier option for food. This does not mean that the food is 100% organic. The same obstacles that you would have in purchasing fruits and vegetables from a grocery store are the same you will have in an organic store and a farmers market. In all honesty, the only way to know, for certain, you are getting 100% organically grown vegetables is to grow them yourself. If you do not have the time, inclination or desire to grow fruits and vegetables yourself for organic baby food then you will need to do some research and you will need to find a fruit and vegetable wash that will clean off any possible remnants of pesticides and fertilizers. One of the best fruit and vegetable sprays on the market is Fitt. You can purchase it in any organic food store, any major grocery store, and at some farmers markets. Other companies have come out with variations or kits and these can be purchased at local organic stores. You will want to follow the instructions exactly in order to remove pesticides and fertilizer residue from the food.
Growing Fruits and Vegetables
If you live in a regular suburban home environment or if you live in an apartment environment that has a patio then you already have the major components necessary to make a patio or urban homestead garden. Many newcomers to organic foods have the misconception that you can only grow certain foods in certain climates. This is a huge misconception! In order to grow the fruits and vegetables that your family eats, including your organic baby food for your baby or toddler, all you need is the right fertilizer and right growth environment. If you cannot grow certain fruits and vegetables due to extreme heat or cold, you do have the option to indoor garden. If you choose to grow or start an urban patio garden or homestead garden your best option is to start with seeds. By starting with seeds, you will be able to control how the plant is grown from the time it is planted to the time you harvest it.
Hydroponic and Aquaponic Gardens
The popularity of hydroponic and aquaponic gardens has increased rapidly in the last few years. A company called windowfarms.org and provides families with the instructions or kits to make a window farm. These window farms are great for small families of no more than three people. The window farms can and are being used in cities like New York, Los Angeles and in Midwestern cities. These window farms work on a hydroponic air irrigation system that provides nutrients to the plants throughout the day. This type of system can grow everything from herbs to small tomatoes. The possibilities with this type of farm are virtually endless. Another option is the aero garden. Aero gardens have become less popular in the last few years but are still around. They will provide you with strawberries, cherries, salad greens and herbs. Though this does not cover the full gamut of what a baby would eat during the day it will help provide a primary source of organic food. If you want to grow a complete organic garden, your best bet is a hydroponic garden. You can purchase a hydroponic kit or create a hydroponic garden with less than $100. This garden will produce a continuous amount of fruits and vegetable greens and herbs for the entire family.
Organic Baby Food Supplies
Baby food supplies is one of the first questions asked when discussing organic baby food. The supplies that are needed to make organic baby food are simple. You need baby food size jars, a steamer, formula or breast milk, the vegetables or fruits and a food grinder. You can use a food processor, personal food grinder, or a food masher. The entire set of supplies that you need to make organic baby food costs less than $40.00 and every bit of it is reusable and washable.
When discussing supplies to make organic baby food many newcomers to organic food and new parents are concerned about the amount of time that it would take to make baby food. There is a misconception that in order to make baby food you have to waste away the hours in the kitchen and slave over a hot stove. This could not be farther from the truth. It takes less than an hour to create a weeks worth of organic baby food, jar it, and put it in the refrigerator. In fact, let us go over the steps it takes to create organic baby food.
Step one: the first step in creating baby food is to clean the fruits or vegetables. For the purposes of this guide, we will use green beans as the example vegetable. The first step would be to clean the green beans in cool water until all of the dirt and residue is cleaned from the beans. If you are using, which you should be, a fruit or vegetable wash you will need to follow the directions on that wash. It should be noted that many of the washes available would tell you to wash the fruits and vegetables 3 to 4 times. The last time would be a clean rinse with no wash on the vegetable or fruit. Some people will try to avoid these steps and only rinse the food one time. Do not do this! Follow the directions completely in order to remove any possible non-organic residue from the vegetables.
Step two: after you have rinsed the fruits and vegetables, in this case green beans, completely you will place the beans into a steamer. A steamer can be anything from a steam basket placed over boiling water, a steam basket placed in a rice cooker with water in the reservoir of the rice cooker, or it can be a steam machine. As long as the steamer just steams and does not boil the vegetables you are good to go. You will need to steam the vegetables for at least 45 minutes. Steam times do vary slightly but it is important to remember to cook the vegetables thoroughly to ensure they puree properly in a later step.
Step three: after you have steamed the vegetables, in this case green beans, place the vegetables into your food grinder or processor. In the case of green beans and some other vegetables, the vegetable may have stems or leaves attached. If you have not already removed them, remove them at this step prior to putting them into the processor. Stems on green beans, especially, should be removed at this step. It is easier to remove the stems after the steam step just remember to remove them prior to putting them in the food processor. When you place the vegetables into the processor add a small amount of breast milk or formula to the vegetables or fruit. This not only has nutritional value it also creates a creamier puree for the organic food. Use the pulse option on the food processor. The reason you want to use the pulse option is that it will allow the food to run through the blades continually rather than settling at the bottom of the food processor.
Step four: when the food has reached the right consistency remove the puree from the food processor in place into the baby foods size jars. If possible, use removable labels or reusable labels on the food jars to mark the date and the type of food within the jar. Baby food kept within the refrigerator can be kept up to 3 to 4 days depending on the temperature of the refrigerator. However, many parents find that creating baby food every other day, every three days or even every night is easier than trying to use the food within a certain of time.
Those four steps are the only steps required to creating your own baby food. If you were to create your own organic baby food each night when you make dinner for the family or when you make dinner for yourself then you will be able to create the next days’ worth of food if not two days’ worth of food.
Storing Organic Baby Food
There are several storage methods for organic baby food. Depending on how much time you have during the week, what type of organic baby food you are creating, and if you want to create for several days or weeks in advance then you have several options available to you.
The first option of storing organic baby food is if you are only creating the baby food for less than a week. In cases where the baby food is going to be consumed in than a week you can simply place the baby food into jars and plays a starch and tars and refrigerator. The refrigerator will keep the food safe for up to four to five days.
If you are creating baby food to last for longer than a week you have two options available to you for storage. The most common option is to create a weeks worth of a certain type of food. For this example, we will use the green bean example we had earlier. This storage method requires a canning system. You can use a canner to can baby food the same as you would to can vegetables or meat. Depending on the type of canning system you have you will need to either use a water bath system for the canning jars in canning procedure or you can use a pressure cooker method.
If you are not used to canning and would prefer another method of storage, you can freeze the baby food. Purchase reusable and freezable containers and fill the containers with a particular baby food. Label the container and place a baby food in the freezer. You will need to use the baby food within six months. However if you have a deep freeze and the time, using one day a week to create a month supply of baby food is an option that many families choose to take. It saves money, time and all you have to do is take out the weeks’ worth of that particular vegetable, fruit or meat and place it in the refrigerator to thaw.
Benefits of Making Organic Baby Food
A few of the benefits of creating your own organic baby food is knowing what is in the baby food. By creating your own organic baby food, you know where the vegetables came from and if you grew them, you know how they are grown. You know what preservatives were placed in the baby food if you decided to use any preservatives are all. The biggest benefit is that you know that the baby food is safe and will not be recalled. Financially the benefits are astounding to making your own organic baby food. Consider this. Not organic baby food can cost between 50¢ and a dollar per jar. Organic baby food can cost between a dollar and $3.00 ajar. When your baby goes through six jars a day those dollars add up. An average baby can go through as many as is 10 to 15 jars of baby food a week. If you are creating your own baby food, you do not have to buy those jars. The only thing you have to buy is the vegetables, which are a fraction of the cost. These are just a few of the benefits of making your own organic baby food. As a child grows older, you can adapt the organic baby food to organic toddler food and finally to organic adult food easily. The reason the conversion is easier is that the babies are used to the organic nature of the food and are not used to added preservatives additives or sugars. Regardless of the method you choose to provide organic baby food for your baby, the benefits are endless.