You've probably been shopping at your local neighborhood grocery store and purchasing the same old, homogenized and pasteurized milk, shiny fruits with a bit of a white sheen, chicken cutlets and cereal for your kids that you drank and ate as a child. Hey, you grew up on all these foods, and you turned out OK, right?
Yet, with the increasing rise in childhood chronic illnesses like diabetes, allergies and behavior problems, many parents are sharply raising their eyes and taking a hard look at their children's daily diets to determine if the foods they're serving them are indeed the culprits of these illnesses.
I must admit, at first I was a bit leery about the whole organic movement. Growing up in the early '80s when peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches on white bread and eggs for breakfast five days a week were considered standard kid fare. In fact, we had a neighbor we affectionately termed the “crunchy granola lady.”
Whenever we were invited over her house, I recall Mrs. Farkas extolling the virtues of the brown rice, soy milk and organic produce which lined her shelves and imploring my parents to patronize the tiny “blink and you might have missed it” neighborhood health food store, where she insisted the carob-covered rice cakes awaiting us would surely win us over to her side! Suffice it to say, I don't think my parents ever took the plunge.
Fast-forward to today where the pesticides and chemicals added to the foods we feed our kids are rampant, many of us parents, including yours, are more often considering the organic route. And when a good friend of mine, whose child had hyperactivity disorder issues, confided about the strides he'd made since she stripped his diet of any non-organic produce, poultry and milk, I became intrigued.
Sure it might be a little more expensive, but it is certainly a lifestyle choice you may want to check out.
WHAT DOES ORGANIC MEAN?
Originally, all foods were “organic.” This means that they were grown and prepared without pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers or hormones and were unrefined, whole or minimally processed. Unfortunately, the bulk of our food supply these days, whether of vegetable or animal origin, is also full of pollutants and farming chemicals, many of which have been shown to result in a weakened immune system, and consequently allow other carcinogens and pathogens to filter into the body and affect our health.
Organic certification is the public's assurance that products have been grown and handled according to strict procedures without persistent toxic chemical inputs. For quick and easy kid recipes, organic staples, statistics and fun facts about organic foods, check out the Whole Foods Market site at www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipes/list_kids.html and the Organic Trade Association at www.ota.com.
Some of my best bets for organic shopping and information:
Family Health Foods: With five Staten Island locations, check out its Web site, www.familyhealthfoods.com, to find a location nearest you.
Tastebuds: An organic luncheonette and health-food store at 1807 Hylan Blvd., Dongan Hills; 718-351-8693.
Stop and Shop supermarket: In my humble opinion has the best selection of organic meats and dairy products.
The Green Market in St. George: http://www.grownyc.org/saintgeorgegreenmarket Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the municipal parking lot across from the St. George Theatre. Vendors offer mostly organic, fresh local produce picked the day before; seasonal fruits, vegetables, baked goods and a small selection of fresh poultry.
The Packer http://www.thepacker.com/ is online produce encyclopedia provides parents and their kids with the history, varieties, selection, preparation, handling, nutritional value and fun facts about 83 different fruits and vegetables. But more importantly, it features the latest news on food safety, organics and nutrition research. If that weren't enough, it boasts 550 fruit and vegetable recipes including: delectable squash fritters and kiwi cobbler and a section featuring organic recipes.
So I'm making a list, checking it twice and going organic grocery shopping! I'm always on the hunt for organic tidbits and local restaurants that serve up organic food kids won't frown at–if you've got any suggestions- I'd love to hear from them! Leave a comment– it's good for you!