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Going Green Baby Food
With the number of babies born every year, baby food is big business. But how green is it? Baby food may come in small containers but it still requires the same food growth and harvesting as adult foods. Add to that the raw materials needed for baby food packaging and shipping costs and you've got a huge impact on the planet.
Conventional Farming - Not Very Eco-Friendly
Baby food comes from the same food crops used for adult food. Unfortunately, conventionally-raised crops use huge amounts of pesticides and other chemicals. These chemicals leach into the soil, run-off into our water stream and can be absorbed into the food product itself. Pesticides are used to rid the crops of unwanted organisms, but the chemicals often persist (with toxic effects) in the eco-friendly environment for years after their first use. They have been known to climb up the green food chain to affect organisms all along the way, including humans.
Even more alarming is the fact that traces of these pesticides have been found in baby food! This is particularly worrisome for parents because babies immature systems are much more likely to absorb chemicals than adults. Babies smaller body weight means even small amounts of pesticides can affect them. Pesticide residue has been found to affect many systems of the body, causing developmental damage or disorders.
Organic Baby Food - An Eco-Conscious Alternative
Organic baby food is growing in popularity, but it remains a small percentage of the baby food market. Growing food organically relies on renewable resources and sustainable farming practices. Soil and water conservation are paramount to organic farming. Organic farms eschew the eco-friendly use of conventional pesticides, fertilizers, radiation or bioengineering. Organic meats cannot contain growth hormones or antibiotics.
While organic baby food solves some dilemmas, such as the leaching of pesticides and other toxins in to organic the baby food, it is not without controversy. There is some argument that organic farming is actually harmful to the green environment. The primary basis of this argument is that organic farming produces lower crop yields, thereby requiring more land to yield the same amount of food as conventional farming. However, counter-arguments claim that organic crops are capable of producing similar yields as conventionally-grown crops.
Packaging, Food Packaging and More Packaging
Besides the impact of farming and harvesting your baby food, there's packaging and recycling to consider. Although the plastic and glass baby food containers are recyclable, very few of them actually make it into the bin. They end up in landfills or incinerators. And those teensy-weensy little containers really add up! While we're careful to purchase other products in bulk to save on packaging, there doesn't seem to be the same option with baby food. The best green we can do is recycle the green containers and make sure to buy glass or biodegradable containers.
The choices are many; the dilemmas are real. Ultimately, it's up to the consumer to decide which issues are important to them and which foods to purchase.