History of Favorite American Food Baby Food Part 1

About the history of the favorite American food baby food, information on its nutritional content and more.


Baby Food

There's good news and bad news about the state of commercial baby food. The good news is that there has been some improvement; the bad news is that it's too little and limited to only about 30% of the total market. The villains are the sugar, salt, and starch that are added to most commercial baby foods.

We have become a nation of "sugar junkies," and the addiction starts as we sit in our high chairs spooning in processed baby foods with added sugar. Nutritionists have been sounding danger warnings about sugar for several years; it adds nutritionally empty calories, has a bad effect on our nerves, depletes our bodies of B vitamins, and contributes to tooth decay and hardening of the arteries. It can also interfere with the metabolism of calcium. Never has there been a poison that tastes so sweet.

Try an experiment. Taste one of the new baby food products that has no salt added. If you're like most adult Americans, you will be tempted to "salt to taste." It's a taste we acquire as children; babies don't know the difference until they are taught to expect everything to taste salty-if it doesn't taste sweet, that is. The hypertension and high blood pressure that are associated with a high salt intake start, along with our addiction to sugar, with our early consumption of commercial baby food.

We all need some starch in our diets--babies included. Most babies, however, get plenty in the cereal products that they eat. The starch that is added to most of the other kinds of commercial baby foods only adds extra calories and takes the place of real nutrients-and, of course, lowers production costs for the baby food producers.

Obesity and the need that so many of us have to control our weight through agonizing forced dieting begin in childhood. "A plump baby is a beautiful baby" is the tradition that we grow up with. Scientists now feel that overfeeding in infancy can establish a pattern of excessive appetite that lasts a lifetime. When an adult gains weight, individual fat cells get fatter, but when a child gains weight too fast, new fat cells are added. A baby who eats the high-sugar, high-starch diet provided by most commercial baby foods adds millions of extra fat cells that he will always have.

What are the baby food processing companies doing about the problem? In January, 1977, the Beech-Nut Company announced a new line of "natural baby food" free of added salt, preservatives, and artificial flavor and color. The company also eliminated added sugar from 84 items, and reduced the amount of added sugar in nearly 50 other items. The Heinz Company followed suit with a similar announcement. The catch is that Beech-Nut and Heinz make up only 30% of the baby food market.

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