Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Going Green?

I never thought I'd really go organic, primarily because I'm too cheap and secondly out of laziness and lack of organization. Since I started making baby food, though, they've seen me more often at the local organic food store. I just can't give her the same (possibly) pesticide-laden vegetables that my husband and I eat. In hindsight I should have gone organic while pregnant, I guess, but I won't beat myself up over that too much.

The idea of feeding my children only organic food originated in my pre-France days, actually, when I was teaching at an elementary school and eating lunch with the 5th grade teachers. I remember a conversation in which they were talking about how the number of girls who start menstruating in 5th grade has shot through the roof. I remember one teacher in particular said when she started teaching, she didn't have any reason to keep an emergency stock of sanitary pads for students and now they're needed all the time. She also said that girls were developing breasts much earlier and she thought it was due to the hormones in meat and milk. I know it's just speculation, but I thought it was a risk not worth taking. I'm overly cautious like that, but have accepted it as part of my personality. That and the handwashing that my sister teases me about, but that's a whole 'nother blog post.

Today I saw an article on MSN that says organic food is more nutritious, so it seems there are benefits in addition to my peace of mind. The study was funded by the European Union (whom, oddly enough, I seem to trust more when it comes to matters of food, although I could be completely wrong there) and found that the biggest benefit occured with organic milk: levels of antioxidants were between 50 to 80% higher, for example, and there was a higher percentage of vitamin E. I think I'll be looking to switch to organic milk for my husband and me.

I suppose my point in writing about this is to wonder whether I'm changing because I'm a mother, because I'm living in France, or because I'm a mother living in France. I'm not sure how I would be feeding my little Slobberella if I were home. The overwhelming trend here is to make your own food for baby or at the very least, buy only organic jarred food. I'm trying to think if I know anyone who doesn't do that, and I'll have to get back to you. I've heard that the regulations for baby food are so strict that there is very little difference between organic and regular food, anyway, but again I just feel better buying organic. Carrefour (the French version of Wal-Mart) even has its own brand of organic baby items and has started stocking more and more organic fruits and vegetables.

In the end, I think I have to credit France for my part in this growing food revolution. I know it's a stereotype to say the French are all about food, but there's a little bit of truth in that and I think they're right to be so concerned about the simple pleasures of eating. Speaking of which, I'm going to go and prepare Slo-J's gouter (afternoon snack) -- a petit suisse* and some apple-blueberry compote, organic of course.

*I don't know how to explain a petit suisse except that it's one of the myriad dairy products for children. I guess it's between a yogurt and cream cheese. Can anyone help me out with a better explanation?


tara said...

Funny enough, there is a wiki page on the petit suisse: It's basically a high-calorie/fat snack for kids to give them energy. I've been looking for the equivalent here for my little sister her needs to put on some weight.

Sarah said...

Petit-suisse always reminded me of a particularly unctuous fromage blanc (which I so miss back here in the States). We'd get them as the dessert at the university cafeteria, so they're not just for kids!

I read a very credible explanation for the early onset of puberty in American girls: a combination of much better nutrition (the previous statistics dated from a time when not every child got enough good stuff, so they developed more slowly) and the obesity epidemic in this country (overweight girls tend to hit puberty sooner than skinny girls, and more and more children are overweight here).

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Sara said...

mmmm, i like those petit suisse things!

incidentally Wal Mart in America is starting to stock more organic food (packaged and produce), or so I read in the articles about food in America.

My parents did the whole organic make your own food thing when I was a baby so I guess I owe it to my kids one day.