Wednesday, August 22, 2018

What the #@!% Am I Going to Feed My Kids That Is Safe?! What to Avoid and 'Cleaner' Snack Ideas for Your Family

After the latest studies showing the very popular and probably carcinogenic pesticide, glyphosate, in organic and non organic oat products and, days after, another study which found lead in organic and non organic baby foods, parents everywhere are left looking around their kitchens thinking “ What the #@!% am I going to feed my kids that is safe?!”

I get it.   For a moment I thought the same thing (btw if you are feeling angry and frustrated channel these feelings into taking action- when its time to vote, signing petitions, etc Angry moms get things changed and we certainly need change in our country when it comes to chemical reform); I personally eat rice crackers and my kids had recently started eating Cheerios.
But, being overwhelmed and stressed out helps no one - especially a mother who needs to pack a lunch or snack for her little ones every day.  With this in mind, and after a follower requested a list of 'safer foods',  I decided to try to make a list of “safe”  snack foods for kids:  your kids and mine.   

What do I mean by “safe” foods?  Well the reality is that today, even organic foods run the risk of having some levels of pesticides (mostly trace) and/or heavy metals.  However, this list should - according to my research and based on the limited world wide studies on the topic I found- showcase foods that contain little to no pesticides and heavy metals.

Before displaying the list, here are some things that are important to understand:
  1. Babies, toddlers and developing fetuses are particularly vulnerable to both pesticides and heavy metals due to their smaller size and developing brains and organ systems.  So, yes, it is worth making an effort to minimize foods with glyphosate, other pesticides and heavy metals in their diet (and the diet of pregnant women) 
  2. Heavy metal exposure, even in small amounts, may increase the risk of lower IQ and behavioral problems and have been linked to autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. Note:  this does not mean a child will necessarily develop any of these disabilities if they eat 1-2 foods with pesticides and/or heavy metals- but it does increase their risk. 
  3. SOME GOOD NEWS: Research shows that people who have good levels of minerals like calcium, iron, zinc, selenium and magnesium greatly reduce metal toxicity, especially from lead (but also cadmium and mercury) since these essential chemicals interfere with the absorption of the harmful metals.  If the body is deficient in some of these vitamins/minerals it can lead to increases absorption of and less protection from heavy metals.  Bottom line:  make sure your family is eating a balanced nutritious diet!
  4.  More Good News: You might not be able to completely control the presence of some levels of heavy metal and pesticides in some of your food but you CAN control: your water supply, lead exposure from old paint dust, decreasing your exposure to hormone disrupting chemicals at home and protecting and strengthening your child’s immune system… Taking a close look at your child's whole picture (the water they drink, the air they breaths, the toys they place in their mouths, the products they use to shower etc) is just as important since environmental chemicals do their most harm on a cumulative level.

What to avoid
  1. Non-Organic Foods: if it is not organic it will be treated with glyphosate and/or other harmful pesticides.  Even GMO verified foods can be treated with pesticides.  Certified organic, as we saw this week, can contain pesticides but 9 out of 10 times it will be at levels much lower than non organic foods.   
  2. OATS: non organic and some organic oats were found  to contain glyphosate (some organic oat products did not contain glyphosate see list here). Best to avoid conventional oat products (granola, oatmeal, cereals) and proceed with caution on the organic oat front. Remember to vary your diet and not eat oat containing products every single day.  
  3. Fruits and vegetables:  YES, EAT THEM BUT: Pesticides: Like I said, if it is not organic it will be treated and have higher levels of glyphosate and other pesticides (read #1)   Heavy Metals:  Heavy metals in fruits and vegetables are a tricky topic.  Lead, arsenic, cadmium can all come from the soil, the Earth’s crust, the air, the water etc.  Because of the variety of sources that exist that can contaminate a fruit or vegetable with heavy metals, it is somewhat common for these to contain some levels of  heavy metals…and it becomes really hard to give a list of produce that contain or do not contain heavy metals because, ultimately,  it will depend on where the specific fruit or veggie you have was grown:  was the land used for conventional agriculture in the past? Is there a neighboring farm spraying pesticides?  Is the air quality poor? Is there an industrial zone nearby? etc.   

 Additionally you need the vitamins and benefits from fruits and vegetables-  so elimination is not the solution, in fact variety is key.  What can help is:

- Always wash all fruits and vegetables before eating or cooking them and if you can, scrub them with a brush to help you get rid of any soil with arsenic in it.

- Root vegetables like beets, turnips, carrots, radishes and potatoes - have arsenic mostly in their skins. Peeling these vegetables will get rid of most of the arsenic, but avoid eating the peel or composting as this would put arsenic back into the soil.

Sweet potatoes and leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale have been found to absorb higher levels of heavy metals.

- If you are a home gardener you can assure no heavy metals nor pesticides in your own garden: just test your soil for arsenic to confirm!

- Know your farmer:  talk to your local farmer if you visit a farmers market regularly or partake in a CSA:  ask them these questions to determine how safe their fruits and vegetables are.

  •  4. Rice products:  Rice products are known to contain arsenic.  In fact, rice products fared worse than any other product in recent Consumer Report testing.  Rice products also can contain lead and cadmium. This includes rice, rice crackers, cereals, infant rice cereals, rice based milk and rice based baby formula, rice based pasta and brown rice syrup.
If you have to eat rice; 
  • don’t eat it every day  
  • consider cooking rice like you cook pasta:  with lots of water! This gets rid of about 1/2 the arsenic present  (make sure your water is tested to be free of arsenic - view our water filter buying guide)
  • White basmati rice from California, India and Pakistan and sushi rice from the US tend to have lower arsenic levels that other types of rice.  
  • 5. Cereals and Granola:  Mostly due to rice and oat content, these morning staples have been tested by CR or Democracy Now and found to contain glyphosate: General Mills’ Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, Raisin Bran and Frosted Flakes, Lucky Charms, Barbara’s Multigrain Spoonfuls, Barbara’s Multigrain Spoonfuls, Original, Cereal, Kellogg’s Cracklin’ Oat Bran oat cereal, Back to Nature Classic Granola, Nature Valley Granola Protein Oats 'n Honey, Wheaties, Trix
  • 6. Snack Foods: bars, cookies, crackers, crisps, puffs, chips and rice rusks and other teething biscuits—were most problematic, once again because of their rice content.   Among those found to contain glyphosate: Ritz Crackers, goldfish crackers whole grain and original, Annie’s gluten free bunny cookies/ coco and vanilla, Oreos, Lucy’s Oatmeal Cookies Gluten Free, 365 Organic Golden Round Crackers (trace amounts), Back to Nature Crispy Cheddar Crackers, Stacy’s Simply Naked Pita Chips, Doritos Cool Ranch, Cheez It Original, Cheez it Whole Grain, Kashi Soft Bake Cookies, Oatmeal Dark Chocolate, 365 Organic Golden Round Crackers
  • 7. Fish: Bigeye tuna, king mackerel, orange roughy, shark, and swordfish are particularly high in methylmercury. 
  • 8.  OTHER:  conventional Maize grain, conventional lentils, conventional sweetcorn, Minute Maid Orange Juice, Tropicana Orange Juice, Kirkland Organe Juice, Stater Bros Orange Juice, Ben & Jerry's Ice Creams, 

Snacks to Put On Heavy Rotation At Home

I cannot assure you these will be 100% free of pesticides nor heavy metals, however these have been shown in worldwide studies to have little to no traces of these chemicals and should be considered safe.  As I said before though:  variety is key.  Make sure you child is eating a balanced and varied diet!

  1. Kashi Heart to Heart Organic Honey Toasted Cereal 
  2. seaweed snacks (Hijili seaweed does contain a type of arsenic called, arsenobetaine, which is considered harmless) 
  3. organic watermelon balls:  Use a melon baller to scoop out melon and
    watermelon.  Yellow watermelon is especially high is minerals known to help eliminate heavy metals from the body
  4. avocado:  I used to carry an avocado in my baby bag and that would always be a impromptu snack/lunch for my little one!
  5. organic peas:  Some kids love English peas- its a great finger food for on the go too also tasty frozen.
  6. organic cucumbers:  According to a study by Dartmouth Toxic Metals
    Superfund Research Program, cucumbers absorb very little arsenic in the parts we eat.
  7. organic tomatoes: Another food Dartmouth has found absorbs low levels of arsenic.  Another study found low levels of lead in tomatoes “suggesting a resistance towards lead accumulation in them.”        
  8. hard boiled eggs (or eggs anyway you like them!) 
  9. Fresh dates:  We recently discovered these and loved them.  They are especially good frozen- although this is strictly for
    older kids since they do have a pit in the middle.
  10. Wild Organic Blueberries
  11. Organic Pomegranate Seeds
  12. Wild smoked salmon rolls with organic cream cheese
  13. Onigiri or Japanese rice balls: made with sushi rice  packed tightly around a salty filling (smoked salmon, last nights leftover organic chicken, avocado etc) 
  14. Organic coconut chipsL  I like Bare Fruit - 100% Natural Crunchy Coconut Chips Simply Toasted - 3.3 oz(pack of 2) 

  • Coconut flour tortillas (we like the ones by The Real Coconut Company) 
  • Mini broccoli cheddar frittatas (Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Finely chop 1 cup of broccoli florets and steam until tender. Whisk together 3 eggs, 3 tablespoons organic milk, 1/4 cup organic shredded cheddar and a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the chopped broccoli. Pour mixture into greased mini muffin tray and bake for 20 minutes or until lightly golden and cooked through.
  • Frozen blueberry yogurt bites: Coat fresh blueberries in yogurt (vanilla-flavored works well) and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Freeze for one hour, or until completely frozen.
  • Banana Avocado Mousse: Our friends at Weelicious have many great options for kids and toddler meals.  I especially liked: Bananas and avocado puree.  Avocados are rich in the antioxidants beta-carotene and vitamin C and E while bananas are filled with magnesium and potassium.
  • Nature's Path Organic Honey Almond granola:  was found to have undetectable levels of glyphosate by the EWG testing
  •  Cascadian Farm Organic Harvest Berry, granola bar: was found to have undetectable levels of glyphosate by the EWG testing
  • 365 Organic Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats:  was found to have undetectable levels of glyphosate by the EWG testing
  •  Simple Truth Organic Instant Oatmeal, Original:  was found to have undetectable levels of glyphosate by the EWG testing

  • Update
    There is a new in home test available for you to test your family's water and favorite foods - Read more about it here

    1 comment :

    1. I have been following EWG guidelines for sometime now. I would be interested to know how to get funding to demand glyphosate testing certification for all scientifically tested organic oatmeal and other grain products. I know Inner Circle Organics are labeling their sprouted oatmeal with this certification. How much should we rely on it? After all Monsanto showed it could manipulate scientists to look the other way....