The evolution to solids…

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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.

Best wishes!
AFynn about to have his first taste of salmon!

 

10 thoughts on “The evolution to solids…

  1. Theodore

    Hello dear Amy!
    Thoroughly enjoyed reading your ‘blog’;-) Especially the comment about the macaroons at Tasha’s. I’m gonna ask them if you’ve done that;) Haha

    But on a more serious note: My brother in law (Jean’s brother) started producing his own meat on his farm outside of Clarens, which is free from all the growth hormones and stuff we don’t want in our food. If you want, I can send you the information about how they farm etc and you can try it out. They just started distributing their first batch last weekend! They want to sell wholesale, directly to the public.

    Have fun and chat soon!

    T

    • Hi Theodore!!

      OK. So I didn’t actually ask the waitress at Tashas – but I did work through the conversation in my head and then decided against starting one up at all:) Just as well we’re banting at the moment (the whole Tim Noakes meal revolution thing – see http://realmealrevolution.com if you are keen to find out more, but I think it’s the main subject at most dinner tables at the moment other than Nkandla, the trial of Oscar Pistorius and maybe slowly-but-surely the upcoming elections) and so no sugar – no macaroons – and therefore no tricky conversations – at least in so far as whether or not the eggs in Tashas delicious treats are free range or not!

      Please do send me the details of Jean’s brothers meat – I managed to find what were labelled as ‘free range’ beef patties at Woolies earlier but I would love more information and Fynn still needs to try beef etc. Somehow so lovely that I have been to Clarens many times and of course that you and Jean are friends, and so in someway have some understanding of just where this meat is coming from:)

      Thank you so much!!And pls send my love to Jean!
      A

  2. Laura Tomasella

    Hi Aimee

    Found your post on FB 🙂 Try Braeside in Parkhurst for ‘organic’ chicken (buy the whole ones because there’s supposedly more regulation on whole chicken than chicken pieces). Also – no proof that they are organic, tho once you start eating those, the supermarket-chain bought ones taste like soapy dish-water. I’ve started cooking springbok, quail and rabbit to avoid the hormones and antibiotics 🙂 I’m used to ‘exotic’ stuff because of my background, but I think they are worth a try because they are possibly more healthy and definitely delicious.

    Looking forward to next Friday when we can swap more war-stories. Keep writing 🙂

    • Thanks so much Laura!! Drive past there often and had not even thought to stop in and look for chicken!! Just bought enough free range to last us for at least 2 weeks but am certainly going to be making a drive past there – thank you!!!!

  3. Alex

    Aimee how do you judge the impact of online shopping? I don’t have much time at all working FT and a baby- so do pretty much all my shopping, including grocery, online. This also means you can compare things and review them without having to trek around to a million places!

    • Now you’ve got me Alex! To be honest not something I’ve considered because my experiences with online grocery shopping in SA have been less that desirable but something I will certainly look into – thank you for a great idea for some future research! I’s so sorry about not being able to provide you with more information on this at the moment – please watch this space!

      A

  4. Evolution to solids – great blog title! It sounds like you are right on schedule for weaning Fynn onward to solid foods. NHS says 6 months is the right age, and Fynn is right there now! (http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/812.aspx?CategoryID=62&SubCategoryID=63). What great and informed parents you are!

    In your quest to use organic baby foods, you certainly aren’t alone in that they say that 3 out of 4 UK babies are raised on organic foods because parents are concerned about pesticides and contamination. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-201466/Rise-organic-food-babies.html. Many people publish on the benefits of organic baby foods when weaning your baby (for example, http://www.askbaby.com/organic-baby-food.htm; http://www.chooseorganic.co.uk/organic-baby-food.html). But of course, as with anything, we know we need to gauge the motivations of the author (for example, many of the organic baby food suppliers are biased in that their promotion of organic baby foods will increase their sales).

    But you might be interested in hearing some varying views about organic baby foods. For example, an article from the Baby Centre website notes that organic baby food is not necessarily any better for your baby. Are you as surprised as I am to hear that? (http://www.babycentre.co.uk/x9151/are-organic-foods-better-for-my-baby). However, the dietitian noted that “Organic foods may not be any more nutritious. Government research has found that there are no important differences in the nutrition content of organic foods compared to intensively farmed foods.“ http://www.babycentre.co.uk/x9151/are-organic-foods-better-for-my-baby#ixzz2y0koQCoN. But the article did indeed highlight a benefit of milk which was organic, so that helpful. It said organic milk had more omega-3 fatty acids than non-organic milk, which may improve children’s brain development. Yet what she giveth, she then taketh away – the dietitian then noted that organic milk had short-chain omega-3 fatty acids, but the long-chain fatty acids found in oily fish were more nutritious. I don’t know how you would give your baby up to 2 portions of oily fish per week and whether he would eat it at all! The article does say organic fruits and vegs have fewer pesticides and generally supports using organic baby food, and at the end, it reaffirms that such foods may have more flavour and be liked more by your baby, just not that it’s necessarily healthier or safer for babies. But as you rightly noted, it’s not just whether it’s organic, but where the food comes from and how it’s produced that’s important from a sustainability perspective.

    Having said that, if you are going organic, there are so many great resources for helping new mums feed their babies organically, as I’m certain you’re already aware. For example, the Soil Association provides a listing of baby food brands which have the Soil Association Organic seal on them. http://www.soilassociation.org/whatisorganic/organicfood/organicbabyfood
    I hadn’t thought the soil association would talk about baby foods on their website. There are even homemade organic baby food recipes available. http://www.soilassociation.org/blogs/latestblog/article/466/organic-baby-food
    Fynn looks like he’s already off to a great start and he looks so happy! That’s a great sign that you really know what you’re doing and you’re already doing things right! Fyntastic!

    • Thanks so much Hotelchocam for your comments and all the information!

      Yes – I have read that organic foods are not necessarily better for your baby (or for a grown person for that matter) from a nutritional perspective (although dairy products as you say do seem to be the exception). And I must say that did shock me too! Though I have not yet done any more research into this. A great idea for another blog, thank you!!

      I must say I went through this whole decision and confusion process again this morning with our weekly shop. Armed with Annabel Karmel’s Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner (given to us as a gift by a friend – for more information you can also take a look at http://www.annabelkarmel.com – a whole industry, a bit like Babysense in SA – I had no idea!) – we are moving from fish to chicken recipes this week!

      As I have previously mentioned, I have not been able to find any chicken that claims to be organically grown, so always get (even for Graham and I) the chicken labelled ‘free range’ at Woolies (the label also states that no growth hormones have been used in the production of the chicken).

      In so far as fruit and veggies are concerned, I have made a decision to stop first at my favourite fruit & veg shop and buy as much of the ingredients that I need there first. Although none of these products are labelled as being organic, and the people who I have spoken to in the shop tend to give me blank stares when I ask about whether anything in there store is farmed organically, a lot of the produce is not packaged which I love because it means that I don’t need to buy more than what I need, and the goods seem to be sold quite a bit cheaper than at the large retailers that I frequent! As you rightly say though, it’s not just whether something has been grown organically that concerns me – but how sustainable the whole production and distribution process itself is. I have not been able to find a website for the store but I believe it is family-owned, and so when I go past next week I am going to see about making some gentle enquiries about the position that the business takes with respect to sustainability in so far as the products they stock, their suppliers etc are concerned.

      Thank you too for the link to the soil association and the additional recipes! Fynn and I are still working our way through Annabel Karmel. Please let me know if anyone is keen for any information on the recipes that we have tried – I would be happy to recommend:)

      A

  5. Hi Aimee!

    I love reading about your adventures in mommydom! You have really highlighted the main challenge that one faces when attempting to eat sustainably – thinking! Well, knowledge to be exact, but truthfully, the main thing that strikes most of us is, “Man! There is so much I have to think about and consider!”. I think this must feel especially hard because you are “thinking” for more than just yourself, you are thinking for your family as well. I find it interesting that you feel a change when thinking about feeding F sustainably versus what you and G eat day to day. I know you two are on a special diet now, but regardless, has thinking about how to feed F sustainability changed the way you think about feeding yourself? In one of our breakout sessions last workshop, Profession Tim Lang made the comment that while we as humans rarely change our eating habits, having a child is the most common time we do. I am eager to hear how learning about feeding F has changed the way you think about eating if at all. Just reading your blog makes me think twice- if I had a child would I be feeding him or her differently than I feed myself? This all, of course, is assuming the child is well past the formula! Can’t wait to hear about your next adventure!

    Caitlin

    • Hi Caitlin!

      Thank you so much for your comments – love getting them!

      I most definitely do think about issues of food and sustainability differently now that Fynn is around! As a singleton, I thought about sustainability – but I found that it was more of an abstract concept for me. Marrying Graham has made me interested in and concerned about his likes and dislikes, what he would like to eat etc (say if he has a big cycling race coming up), but somehow, with two adults in the mix I found it easy to accommodate both of our needs without changing too much or thinking too far ahead.

      Having Fynn has changed all that. I hope that he will live many years beyond Graham and I – and I want his life to be a great one. I want him to live in a safe and peaceful society. I want him to be able to enjoy the same walks in the bush that we do. I want him to be healthy. And as a parent I am responsible to do everything I can reasonably do to make that life, that future, possible for him.

      Sending all my very best wishes to you in Denver!
      A

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