No, don’t worry. You are not on a blog discussing geology or the formation of the earth (my brain is still way too fuzzy for that:))! Rather, this is all about the time when you start thinking about feeding your baby something other than milk.
Ok. So we haven’t gone into the whole debate about breastfeeding v formula feeding, and in particular, which is more sustainable re impacts on the environment, the society in which we live (think of the people who work at the formula-manufacturer, or sell it at their store), for the health of your child or indeed your own (health) or the health of your bank balance:)! …This is mostly because I am a tad (read slightly more than a tad) prudish and just don’t feel comfortable discussing something to do with breasts on a public forum:)!
So moving right along…! Fynn is now almost 6 months old, and has for the last two months or so been on an anti-reflux formula. I have to admit that I did not look at all into the sustainability credentials of the said formula product – I went with exactly what was recommended by the paed (which recommendation was also endorsed by Fynn’s nurse and other moms), but do recycle the formula containers.
At almost 6 months, Fynn is now moving to the second phase of the formula (same brand as before – and the one still recommended by the doctor) but, for the last 2 months we have been experimenting with the introduction of solids, and just yesterday we started with the introduction of protein! Well now, this is a whole different ball game!
I have always been what I consider to be (mostly) a healthy eater. I love salads and grilled chicken and fish but absolutely do have a tendency to give in to a slice of good baked cheese cake when I see one! The point is this, although my food choices have been (mostly) healthy – they have been made (1) because it’s the kind of food I was brought up to eat, (2) it’s the kind of food my husband also likes to eat so it’s easier when I do the shopping, and (3) because it’s the kind of food that keeps you slimmer and trimmer:). In other words, I have not made the choices I have made to be healthy per se. Healthiness has just been a good by-product of the whole decision process.
Having a baby however changes your whole approach to food! The concerns are plentiful and range from how the food might taste, whether it’s age appropriate, what the texture of the food is and much more importantly – the nutrients it provides, the source of the food and the supply chain that it has been through.
No longer is it enough to know that something contains very little carbs or the right kind of fat – I want to know where this food was grown/manufactured, how it was grown/manufactured, where has it been since then, and what does it and the packaging it is contained within contain (are there any horrible preservatives, salt, sugar etc in there? are there the right kind of nutrients that Fynn needs to grow and develop healthily?). Ladies and gents (if there are any reading this post:)) this, together with the approach that I have decided to take to try be a more active, aware, engaged and responsible consumer – makes the whole process of the weekly grocery shop incredibly trying!
Here are some of the things that I have learnt along the way which you may find useful and on which I would love your feedback/comments:
-) always check the packaging and the ingredients. If it’s not locally produced, try not to buy it. If you can get the same thing with less or no packaging – try go for that. I do always try to buy organic but find that there is very little variety available in the big retailers, and the fruit and veg shops that I have been to often just don’t know whether the produce they stock is organically farmed or not. If you do decide to try your local fruit and veg, try to find out what days they get there new stock. Often their fruit and veggies have more flavour but don’t contain ‘sell by’ or ‘use by’ dates;
-) if it’s dairy that I’m buying – milk, cheese or yoghurt – I always go for organic and hormone free. These are normally quite easy to find in all of the big retailers (other than full cream yoghurt – not widely stocked! And, as a whole, the low-fat varieties don’t have all the nutrients that babies need, and contain way too much sugar)
-) now that we have started Fynn on protein, and since I have been on this whole mission to try and run our home more sustainably, I only buy free-range chicken and eggs (I find it very difficult (read ‘as yet impossible’ to find organic) and fish that is marked as having been sustainably sourced (although I haven’t looked into the credentials of the labels). We are also on the Tim Noakes banting diet (Graham and I, not Fynn) – a whole other story that I won’t go into right now, but on the assumption that we eat carbs (biscuits, cakes etc) – I try to look for ones that are made with free-range eggs. Warning: if you ask your waitress at Tasha’s whether the macaroons are made from free range eggs or not, she will think that you have lost the plot!
-) I am not big at all on red meat (the eating of which is contentious in so far as the effect that producing red meat has on our environment) but do look for red meat for Graham, and will soon be doing so for Fynn. He needs to taste as much as possible and I want him to have a balanced diet! So far I have not been able to find meat that is marked as free-range or organic – the best that I can get is meat that Woolies says they source from farmers that they know and trust
-) we have decided to go the route of making Fynn’s food from scratch. Of course you don’t have to do this, you may just not have the time or (like me) not particularly enjoy cooking. What I do like is that if you have some good quality recipes (re nutrient levels) that are also tasty – you can make a whole batch at a time and have enough for the week. Look for BPA-free containers in which to store the food (you can freeze and defrost as necessary)
-) I was about to start a hunt for a sustainably produced feeding chair that I will have one day been able to recycle or pass on for use, when we were lucky enough to be given a ‘hand-me-down’. In great condition and now not sitting in a rubbish dump! The online sites generally have loads of second hand chairs for sale, or if you would prefer to buy new, do try to find out more about where the product is produced, how it is transported, what it is made from, and your options as to what you can do with the chair when you no longer need it. In South Africa of course I don’t think there will ever be a shortage of children’s homes or children born into less fortunate financial circumstances having a need for our second-hand chairs!
-) the same goes for the plastic feeding jackets which I find are a must-have for Fynn – especially with him wanting to experiment with and touch his food. We were also lucky enough to be given a hand-me-down in fantastic condition!
All of this research and inquiry takes a lot of time and preparation! and sometimes requires you shopping at more than one store (which in and of itself may not be the most sustainable thing to do and now you are using more petrol/diesel to do your shopping). In any event, this is a journey that I am now on and so would be very happy to get your feedback and suggestions, and try to answer any questions that you may have.