I'm here to say, your food is the best! (Oh yes, breast milk is the best too, but this post is about solid foods.)
We need to think past the cute little jars with the colorful labels. As adults, we don't eat everything out of a jar or a box - why should our little ones?
According to a study done by Daryth D. Stallone, Ph.D., M.P.H. and Michael F. Jacobson, Ph.D. titled "Cheating Babies: Nutritional Quality and Cost of Commercial Baby Food", they stated:
Any multi-ingredient jar of food will have fillers in it to get it to the correct weight and additives as preservatives. Compare the nutritional value a jar of bananas with a jar of bananas, peaches & rice mix. The jar of plain bananas has far more nutrition and the mixed variety has far less vitamins but more sugars and starches. The study went a step further to compare whole fruits to jarred fruits:Gerber and Heinz replace real food with water and thickening agents in many of their products for children over six months of age. Such adulterated products are nutritionally inferior to products made with more fruits and vegetables.
One 4-ounce serving of fresh apricots provides about 335 mg of potassium and 2860 IU of vitamin A. By contrast, a 4-ounce serving of Gerber's apricots with tapioca contains only 139 mg of potassium and 1333 IU of vitamin A--or less than one-half as much.
But it's not just the fillers or preservatives that scare me. It's the pesticides that worry me as well. The United Kingdom's version of the FDA (Food Standards Agency) did a study in 2002 with the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment and took that worry to a new level. Their report questioned how the different artificial chemicals in our food might combine to produce even deadlier unknown toxins. Their conclusion was that the long-term health consequences of this situation are unknown. I find that to be very scary, especially when it concerns my baby.Heinz' apricots with tapioca compare even less favorably with the fresh fruit than Gerber's. A 4-ounce serving contains only 78 mg of potassium (23% of the amount in fresh apricots) and 813 IU of vitamin A (28% of the amount in fresh apricots), suggesting that Heinz' product is less than 30% fruit by weight.
Finally, if none of that scares you, then imagine having that kid that eats nothing but chicken nuggets. Jarred foods have less than 20 flavors. Think about all the foods you eat and think about all that your child will miss out on by the time he's done with Gerber toddler foods at age 2 or 3. Tantalize their taste buds today and you won't suffer 3 years from now when little Johnny scarfs down his brussel sprouts and couscous!
In closing, I know several states are trying to get taxes on soda, juice and other sugary products. While that's a start, a better way to get folks to eat healthy is to follow in Canada's footsteps - have less tax on fruits and vegetables than on prepared, jarred foods. Instead of penalizing the unhealthy, just make it easier for Middle America to be healthy. But that's a whole different post of mine on changing America's mentality on food.
Happy eating to you and yours!