My daughter is 5 and my son is 2, their health is as important to me as their happiness. Since Abby was born I have been very aware of what she ate and drank. She was breastfed. Most of her baby food was organic (and 5 years ago there were nowhere near as many choices as their are today); I also made and froze food for her, and perfected some kid favorite recipes including my famous Mac n Cheese (leave me a note if you want the recipe). I was also ever conscious of clothes and toys. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve shopped at Shaw’s and Walmart, but I mainly shop at our local stores for toys, clothing, games, books and it is always where I find some of the coolest kids’ stuff.
As we’ve up our greenness, I’ve paid even closer attention to labels, ingredients, packaging and so on. I’ve also gained a greater understanding of organic food and how green my choices are. As mainstream interest in organic food has grown, so has the proliferation and profiteering of big business on the terminology. Organic agriculture in its purist form includes a holistic system with the primary goal of optimizing the health and productivity of interdependent communities of soil life, plants, animals, and people. When big brands like Walmart and Stop n Shop start carrying and private labeling their own organic foods, the greenness needle drops. Their products and manufacturing systems do not include management practices that are selected with an intent to maintain ecological harmony; to transport products with localization, reduction of carbon emissions and fossil fuel in mind; and they certainly don’t care about supporting and sustaining local growers. So the mass market retail chains private labels may earn the US Organic seal but that doesn’t mean they are green; it actually takes a lot more effort to be Green Organic as opposed to one or the other.
One of my friends aksed me for my best suggestions for greening her kids meals and snacks and I gave her my quick list which includes, with the exception of our local Munroe Dairy, brands that are both organic and green:
1. EnviroKidz— Fabulous organic cereals, bars and snacks. The kids love them and parents eat them. 1% of EnviroKidz sales are donated annually to endangered species, habitat conservation and environmental education for kids.
2. Cookies with a Cause from Immaculate Baking — The country’s first take and bake cookie dough made with organic ingredients, best ready to bake sugar cookie in the local market, and a good item for those last minute bake sales.
3. Annie’s Homegrown – What started with Shells & White Cheddar had grown to Bunny Crackers and Grahams, fruit snacks, meals, and more. Their motto is Eat Responsibly. Act Responsibly.
4. Munroe Dairy — We get our milk delivered from a local dairy that states no rBGH (Bovine Growth Hormone) in any of their dairy products, sources from local farms and stores milk in glass bottles. It tastes better than any milk, anywhere. Munroe Dairy opened in East Providence, RI in 1881 and uses numerous local food suppliers.
5. Stonyfield Farms — My kids, especially my son, loves yogurt. This is his brand of choice. He loves their Banilla and I love that their dairy products are produced without the use of antibiotics, artificial growth hormones, chemical fertilizers, and pesticides; they also support family farms.
6. Horizon Organic — This is our go to for all other dairy products, particularly our cheddar cheese, string cheese and cottage cheese. It’s also a sneak peak at ingredients in my Mac n Cheese. Their string cheese tastes great, is super easy as an on-the-go snack and I prefer it over every other kind out there. They adhere to the no BGH, which is rule one in our house.
7. Newman’s Own — A fan across the board, a favorite for the kids is the Newman’s Own Organics Pop’s Corn. It’s easy to pop a batch and put in baggies for a snack later on or while watching yet another princess movie.
8. Cascadia Farms — This is one of the little guys makes good companies. Cascadia Farms has become a thriving organic food company and one of our family’s sources for jams, frozen vegetables and granola bars. Their 35 year commitment to organic farming in Washington keeps chemicals and toxic pesticides our of their local watersheds and sustains a strong heritage of ecological commitment.
9. Local fruits and veggies – In RI, we have seasonality issues but in-season we buy everything at our local farms – strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, apples, summer squash, zucchini, tomatoes, and so on. My kids devour them. I freeze a lot of the fruit and then use them for shakes throughout the year.
There’s obvioulsy a lot more options out there but with little kids, food repetition is key. I’ve found that success with any green or organic food come from taste, giving it to them repeatedly, and not always letting them know just how good it is for them.
KDL | follow my quick project updates and green news on Twitter: newscaster