Are you finally starting your little one on solids? That’s great – another milestone to mark down!
Now, you can introduce him or her to a variety of nutritious foods such as cereals, fruits, vegetables, yoghurt, cheese, poultry, eggs and many more!
But what food do you start with? There are mums who make their own homemade purees, but if you are strapped for time or want the easier route, go for the supermarket shelves. Of course, there are many variations out on the shelves that you can pick from and you will start noticing products with the word “organic”.
So, what is organic food and is it the way to go for your child? To answer that, it is best you understand what it is.
What is the difference between organic farmed food & conventional farming?
Generally, it is very common that you find baby food products such as instant cereals, juice, and purees made from grains, fruits, vegetables and meat. However, the quality of these products lies in the way these ingredients are farmed, which is usually either one of two farming methods – organic or conventional farming.
Organic and conventional farming differs vastly in their agricultural system as the products and methods used by these farmers are very specific. Particularly, organic farming abides by strict laws in order to be certified as organic produce.
Organic produce is farmed in the most natural way possible – this means the fruits and vegetables do not use chemical pesticides, while livestock is nurtured naturally, without use of antibiotics or growth hormones.
The main rule of organic farming is giving up the use of agrochemicals such as synthetic mineral fertilisers, as well as chemical plant protection products – organic farming mostly relies on natural principles such as biodiversity and composting. Meanwhile, farmers also utilise natural fertilisers and pesticides such as bone meal.
There are many reasons on why organic farming is preferred which include:
- To avoid genetically modified food (GMOs): GMOs are when plants, animals or any microorganisms are genetically altered to help farmers prevent crop loss. GMO crops are generally more resistant to insect damage and plant viruses, as well as tolerate herbicides. However, the safety of GMOs is still debatable and unknown, which is why many stay away from GMOs all together and opt for organically farmed crops instead.
- For better food taste: Plants that are organically farmed without chemical interference are known to have enhanced flavours in fruits and vegetables. This is because these plants are able to produce more of its own natural compounds known as antioxidants. Studies have shown that plants with higher antioxidant levels positively affect the taste, aroma and mouthfeel of the food’s flavours.
- To prevent of chemical contamination: Reports have stated that pesticides are often consumed from poultry, meat, eggs, fish, and dairy products due to the conventional ways of farming which utilise chemicals or growth hormones. With organic farming, farmers use methods such as crop rotation, organic manures, as well as a larger environment to rear and breed livestock. This essentially means that the animals are free to roam around, which is also known as “free-range”.
- Environmentally friendly: Because organic farming does not permit the use of chemicals, it is generally more environmentally friendly than conventional farming as its natural practices promote biodiversity, long-term soil fertility, while encouraging insects that are beneficial to crops and the environment. It also keeps hazardous chemicals out of the groundwater.
Additionally, organic farming has strict guidelines to adhere to which is dependent on the law. In the United States, to be ‘Organic Certified’, the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) requires farmers to submit an application where they will go through stringent checks, including onsite assessments and inspections to ensure they comply to organic farming methods. In fact, there are baby food brands that are imported into Malaysia, such as Gerber® Organic that are USDA certified, which means the source of their products are truly organic.
Conventional farming relies on chemical products, such as pesticides to ward off pests, weeds and provide plant nutrition. Additionally, pesticides are used to prevent the produce from factors such as molding.
One of the main reasons conventional farming methods are used is simply because it increases efficiency and productivity as this allows farmers to grow larger amounts of food, with less land and less manual labour.
However, these practices could negatively affect the environment, ecological system and human health. Furthermore, these farming methods have been heavily criticised for causing biodiversity loss, soil erosion and increased water pollution because of the high usage of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides.
Additionally, conventional farming may use methods that are very much frowned upon such as animal crowding, where animals are crowded together within an area and are fed by complex machinery. At times, they may be injected with medication to prevent diseases.
Is organic safer for your child?
As we have talked about above – organically produced food does not rely on any synthetic enhancers during production. This means there is less pesticide residue on the produce, such as vegetables and fruits, compared to conventional farming methods.
There is always a risk when the human body is exposed to pesticide – low doses of pesticides absorbed into the body over a long term period can cause highly toxic effects. This is even more risky to children as your child’s body is more vulnerable than yours, especially within their early years.
Because of this, organic produce or food is known to be a safer alternative as they avoid any potential effects of such residues and as a bonus, give parents a peace-of-mind. But there are parents who go for organic food as it simply tastes better too, while also being environmentally friendly.
Which organic baby food brand should you try?
Now that you are more well-versed with organic baby foods, you have probably reached a point where you are keen to jump on the organic food bandwagon. In a nutshell, we know that the produce in organic baby food is farmed naturally, free of any nasty chemicals, environmentally friendly and taste better too.
So, it is time to zero in on which brand to go for. Choosing a brand for your little one, especially if it is the first time he or she is starting on solids, might be a head-scratcher especially as a first-time parent. Sure, you can read up on the various brands that offer organic alternatives but let us introduce to you one of the most popular choices among parents – Gerber®.
But why Gerber®? Not only is Gerber® one of the more well-known brands for children, they have their own organic line known as Gerber® Organic. As we have mentioned above, their entire organic range is USDA Certified Organic, which means they abide by the strict USDA Organic Standards that ensures food or other agricultural product uses approved methods in terms of crop, livestock, poultry and handling standards.
Gerber® Organic produces organic and high-quality food for your little one
The brand also has its own farming methods whereby Gerber® Organic uses fruits and vegetables that are grown with Clean Field Farming practices. This practice engages agricultural experts and selected farmers to grow their crops to ensure they are harvested according to the strict requirements.
Meanwhile, all of Gerber®’s baby foods are non-GMO verified (non-GMO is when there is no genetically modified organism during their food production), while their products are also free of artificial flavours or colours, with no added starch or artificial sweeteners. In addition to that, their food range is also left unsalted and unsweetened.
To top it off, the Gerber® Organic line offers a large range of product varieties that keep your little one’s food journey exciting as they explore a multitude of flavours and textures – Gerber® Organic has many different products including baby cereals, pouches, teethers, nutritious snacks and even, a range of supplements. This way you can introduce your child to a variety of baby foods and snacks!
However, remember, when starting solids, start slowly – this is all very new to your little one. It is crucial you let your child lead the way for you to understand his or her likes and dislikes. Also, do not be worried if his or her eating pattern is erratic – it’s actually normal!
So, are you ready to introduce your child to Gerber® Organic? Check out their product range now!
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