If you’re a parent with access to the internet, you’ve no doubt heard about the current wave of organic food products. Every news article and parenting website seems to be singing the praises of benefits of organic food for kids, but all the noise only seems to be adding to the confusion! As parents, all we want is the best for our kids, and with conflicting reports appearing on everything these days, it’s hard to make a decision. Does organic really deserve all the hype? Is spending more on organic food actually worth it? Is organic food for kids just another newfangled parenting trend, soon to die in a few years?
What qualifies as organic food?
To really understand the benefits of organic food for kids, it’s important to know clearly what qualifies as organic food. Organic food products are those created from organic ingredients, the production of which is free from chemical fertilizers, pesticides or any other chemical substance.
It isn’t easy to test a product to know whether it’s organic or not. Due to this, organic products in India are required to have a certification to show that they conform to the National Standards for Organic Products. This certification can be issued by any center that is accredited to the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) under the National Program for Organic Production of the Government of India.
When you buy any organic food product, it’s important to check for this certification mark. Not all products that claim to be organic are really so. But if you find a genuinely organic brand, then by all means, go for it! Here’s a list of benefits of organic food for kids that’ll completely justify the extra effort.
Benefits of Organic Food for Kids
Many tests have found that non-organic foods are missing out on vital nutrients that should be present. A study of two year olds in the British Journal of Nutrition reported that the children who used organic dairy products displayed a lower incidence of eczema and wheezing. A diet rich in organic foods from all food groups can ensure no deficiencies and as a result, improved immunity.
Better Cognitive Development
It’s not just physical health that’s affected by eating organic food, its mental health too! According to a BBC report, pesticides in non-organic produce can result in problems like depression in children. Besides, the reduced availability of nutrients can cause memory issues as well as trouble concentrating – all leading to poor academic performance. On the other hand, organic produce ensures that all nutrients are present in their natural form, leading to overall better cognitive development.
Less Exposure to Dangerous Chemicals
We’ve all heard of the horror stories from Kasargod in Kerala, where the use of the Endosulfan pesticide has resulted in major birth defects and serious health issues. Most of other commonly used pesticides in India are just as dangerous, and filter down through the food we eat. Children have lower immunities and are thus more vulnerable to the dangers of such chemicals. They are already exposed to several chemicals and pollutants in daily life; switching to an organic diet at least mitigates the risk from food.
Better Health in Adulthood
Another study of organic tomatoes by the University of California found that they contained higher level of antioxidants than non-organic tomatoes. Antioxidants are important to keep away illnesses like heart disease and cancer. Eating organic food free from chemicals and pesticides sets the stage for good health in adulthood which is critical considering all the lifestyle diseases that are so prevalent today.
A Palate that’s used to the Taste of Wholesome Foods
If you’ve ever had organic food, you’ll have realized that they taste different from non-organic food. What you taste is the real deal – pure wholesome food without any chemicals. When you feed kids organic food from a young age, they get used to this taste, which makes healthy eating a lifelong habit for them. It also means fewer battles at dinner time for you!
Organic food is becoming widely available in India. While it’s limited to gourmet stores and specialty supermarkets in the physical space, it’s more readily available online. Some popular brands of organic food for kids are Naturally Yours, 24 Mantra, Organic India, Little Moppet Foods and Down to Earth.
Ultimately, what you feed your child today sets the stage for a healthy future. Start your baby’s journey into solids on the right note and you don’t have to worry about her diet anymore!
This post has been written by Dr. Hema, the founder of My Little Moppet for the Mom & Baby Collaboration series.