History of Favorite American Food Baby Food Part 2

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


Baby Food

The big seller is Gerber, and Gerber-according to a March, 1977, Consumer Reports analysis of baby food-continues to add sugar and salt. The following table taken from that analysis will give you a clear idea of the comparison:

Total number of baby food products Percent with added salt Percent with added sweeteners Percent with added modified starches

Beech-Nut 131 0 36 46

Heinz 108 0 33 49

Gerber 152 64 41 44

The pressure from nutritionists and consumer groups continues. There are three things that you can do if you have a baby to feed and don't want it to grow up fat, addicted to sugar, and prone to salt-aggravated hypertension. You can let the baby food companies know how you feel by exercising your power as a selective consumer in the marketplace. You can learn to read labels carefully. Remember that the label may say "Creamed Beans" in large bold type, but the fine print may reveal that the contents are beans and cornstarch. Beech-Nut and Heinz list ingredients by percentage of the total; Gerber lists (as they are required to by law) only the ingredients themselves, in order of amount. What you are looking for is food: vegetables, fruit, meat, with nothing added.

The third thing you can do, and more and more parents are doing it, is make your own baby food. The Heinz Company recently closed its Pennsylvania processing plant because of a drop in consumption caused by the growing number of do-it-yourself baby food makers. In July, 1977, four mothers won a court case against the Beech-Nut Company after the company had mailed 760,000 letters to mothers warning that homemade baby food is dangerous. The mothers charged that the company had employed "scare tactics containing false and misleading advertising." The company agreed to send out another letter stating that, as long as there is "reasonable care in preparation and storage," there should be no problems.

If you decide to make your own baby food, a few simple instructions will help. Start with top-quality fresh meats, vegetables, and fruit. Don't use canned or frozen food, because they probably will contain the added sugar and/or salt that you are trying to avoid. Don't use tough or fatty meat, because you won't be able to grind it to a good consistency. Use clean utensils--rinsed in boiling water. Cube the food and cook until just tender; don't overcook or you'll end up throwing the vitamins out with the water. Blend the food in a blender with a little of the cooking liquid, and then either serve it or store it as frozen cubes made in an ice-cube tray and placed in plastic bags.

It takes planning, time, and effort, but a growing number of parents are sacrificing the convenience of commercial baby foods for the knowledge that they are raising healthy children rather than overweight sugar and salt addicts.

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