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May 22, 2013
Logo design by Christine Hepner

My friend, Nadine, moved to Seattle a few years ago. She’s going to launch a new business soon featuring organic baby and children’s products. (When she does, I’ll be sure to include a link to her site here.) She wanted me to know, though, that just because she’s moved to the West Coast and is talking up organic stuff, that she isn’t really one of “those.” But then she had to admit that maybe she is, after all, and I had to admit that so am I, kinda sorta maybe….

When F was about 6 months old, I realized that breastfeeding was not working. I had tried and tried, but I never produced more than a few drops. I had had to supplement with formula from the start, so after a while it became clear that I was wasting everyone’s time by insisting that the little guy try to get those few drops of breast milk before getting his bottle of formula. I was shocked at how hard it was to wave the white flag, but I felt slightly better once I discovered that Similac makes an organic formula.

When it was time to introduce baby food, we decided to try to stick to organic foods as much as possible, too. But don’t get me wrong, I’m not sure how much good it does to eat organically. Someday we will either look like visionary parents or total suckers to a great marketing ploy. Or maybe something in between.

Take orange juice, for example. There is some BRILLIANT marketing. I have pre-diabetes (if I don’t watch my diet), I have a diabetic father and grandmother, and D has diabetes in his family, too, so I’m very aware of the adverse affect of certain foods on blood sugar levels. Juice is one of the worst offenders. Drinking juice is like mainlining sugar. When you create orange juice, you take a healthy (within reason) food, squeeze out all sugary liquid, and toss out the best part of the fruit–the fibery flesh.

Back in the 70s, the orange growers hired an advertising agency to create a campaign to increase orange juice sales, and boy did they ever get their money’s worth. It’s really hard to have a conversation about juice with a juicer. (And no no no, please, JUICERS please don’t flip out. I’m not talking about whatever it is you all do with the carrots and 12 other vegetables in your blenders. I have no idea what that is all about and what the health benefits/consequences are. Juice on, if it works for you, juice on.) We don’t give F juice of any kind, not orange, apple, or grape. I’ve had people recoil in shock when I’ve refused an offered juice box. I’ve been asked, “But how will he ever get his vitamin C?” Ummmmmm, maybe by EATING an orange? But the perception that orange juice is a healthy drink is totally ingrained in a lot of people.

I attended a pig roast once, an admittedly very strange sort of party for a girl who did not eat meat for 25 years to attend. (I’ve always eaten fish, so no, I was never a vegetarian. I do now eat chicken and turkey, but I still don’t eat beef or pork.) Anyway, sitting next to the unfortunate nominal guest of honor was a man with a pocket knife cutting big, dripping slabs of fat off the roasting-on-a-spit honoree, Porky. He was bare-chested and pot-bellied (the human, not the pig), was sweating and breathing laboriously (on a relatively mild day), and had pig fat dripping from his lips, down his chin, and onto aforementioned bare chest and pot belly. As I struggled not to run screaming from the sight, he hacked off another huge piece of pig and offered it to me. I was able to stammer out, “No thanks. I don’t eat meat.” He looked at me as if I had just announced that I was there from PETA, curled his greasy lip in derision and said, “You don’t eat meat? How do you expect to be healthy?”

Not that I’m the picture of health…far from it. I probably had a cigarette hanging from my mouth and a beer in my hand while I was being all judgy-wudgy with Mr. Porky Man there. And I’ve always fought the battle of the bulge, and I usually lose. So, I guess not eating meat and trying to eat organically is hedging my bets, at best. Who knows if it’s worth the extra money and effort, but maybe, just maybe…

It’s the same thinking that leads me, a total atheist, to say the Act of Contrition before I get on a plane. I’m certain god doesn’t exist, at least not the floaty, bearded man in the sky god, but shit, it’s hard to escape 11 years of catholic school…so I hedge my bets. And just in case, I also ask Buddha, Jove, Mother Earth, Father Time, Eva Peron, and Joseph Smith to keep an eye on the plane, too, because I’m an ecumenical atheist.

The Little Guy has not had beef or pork at all. He used to eat chicken and turkey baby food, but now he won’t touch chicken or turkey, either. He loves yogurt, humus, fish sticks, mac and cheese, and veggie sticks. That about sums it up! Eggs–nope. Neither will his dad.

I don’t want to raise a picky eater, and being from an Irish-American family, I know some drastic picky eaters. I didn’t eat Chinese food until college, because no one in my family ever ate it. I never had sushi, Indian food, Mexican food, or anything like that until I moved to NYC in 1986 and met some more adventurous eaters.

But I want to give him the healthiest start I can, and I also want him to make his own choices when he’s old enough to decide for himself about what and how he’ll eat. Until then, thank goodness for the popularity of organic foods!

Next time: ??

© Copyright 2013

Happy birthday Addie! We love you and the card is in the mail!

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