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Green living expert, author, and TV personality, Sara Snow, explains the USDA organic seal and why "natural" is not organic.

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School Lunch Box–Go Organic!

Sep 05, 2013

It’s that time of year again—back to school, which means you’ll be doing a lot of shopping–new school supplies, clothes and shoes, and those important lunch box items for growing kids.  Remember to get your kids involved in the selection of your organic foods so they too can understand the importance and, let’s face it, because they’ll probably end up helping to keep you on your toes!

The Research

It’s especially important to buy organic for children, because they are particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of exposure to synthetic pesticides.  A few years ago a report was issued by the President’s Cancer Panel on ways to entitled “Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk:  What we can Do Now”, going over ways to reduce environmental exposure to carcinogens to decrease the risk of cancer.  The report detailed how eating organic can reduce one’s risk of developing cancer, especially in infants and children.  For example, in the executive summary they cover pesticide contribution to chronic diseases and cancer, concluding that “Exposure to pesticides can be decreased by choosing, to the extent possible, food grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers and washing conventionally grown produce to remove residues”.  Also, on there is a section about how animals raised on non-organic farms add to the runoff of medications (such as antibiotics, growth hormones, etc.), and there is speculation that these chemicals can disrupt the human endocrine systems.  Because children are especially sensitive to environmental toxins, make sure to choose organic when you stock your child’s lunchbox.

 

Organic Lunchbox Shopping List

Photo credit:  Rubbermaid Products

Photo credit: Rubbermaid Products

  • Peanut Butter
  • Apples
  • Jelly or Jam
  • Bread
  • Cheese Sticks
  • Carrots & Celery
  • Granola Bars
  • Fruit Snacks

 

Peanut Butter Conventional peanut butter often has added ingredients like sugar, corn syrup, hydrogenated fats and pesticides! None of which are good for your child’s health. Organic peanut butter will have a short and natural ingredient list, often containing just peanuts and salt. Don’t worry, your kids will get used to the lack of added sugars and fats.  Of course, you can also find slightly sweetened organic PB, kissed with organic cane sugar.

 

Apples are easily transportable, full of antioxidants, delicious and loved by kids and parents. They are also consistently one of the top fruits carrying a heavy pesticide load and posing a major pesticide risk. Choosing organic apples can make a big difference in lowering your family’s exposure to toxic synthetic pesticides while increasing your nutrient intake. Plus, studies have shown that organic apples actually taste better than conventional ones. All in all, a better choice!

 

Jelly or Jam Look at most fruit jams and jellies at the supermarket and you might be surprised to find the second ingredient is high fructose corn syrup—a processed sweetener nearly always made from genetically modified corn. Look for organic brands with more of the real stuff like cane sugar and actual fruit and free of the nasty stuff like toxic synthetic pesticides and GMOs.

 

Bread There has been a surprising discovery lately when it comes to one of our country’s staples: wheat.    The Organic Center recently found that wheat poses one of the greatest risks of pesticide residue. Why? Farmers often spray it on after the grain is harvested to keep pests away while the wheat is in storage waiting to be milled. But this means that those pesticides are still hanging on when the wheat is turned into flour and baked into your breads, cookies and more.  Plus, sandwich bread, especially whole wheat, is another one of those foods you wouldn’t think has added unwholesome ingredients, but the most common sandwich breads use high fructose corn syrup as a sweetener.  Play it safe and look for organic breads for your family’s toast and sammies.

 

Cheese Sticks Try not to compromise when it comes to your dairy selections at the grocery store. Not only does organic dairy farming prohibit synthetic growth hormones and antibiotics, but organic farming practices are shown to increase the nutritional value of the milk. Studies have shown that organic dairy products have a greater amount of heart-healthy omega-3s compared to conventional dairy products. The increased nutrients are due to all the grass the cows get to eat while they roam in fields and pasture, unlike conventionally raised cows that are often kept in confined feed lots and given processed feed.  So tell the conventional milk, cheese and yogurt, to moooooove over and make way for the organic stuff.

 

Celery The synthetic pesticides used on celery are often some of the most dangerous known developmental toxins. And some of these chemicals are systemic, which means you can’t wash or peel them off because they are taken up through the roots of the plant and remain inside the vegetable when you go to eat them.  Pay close attention and buy organic celery for your kids’ snacks.

 

Granola Bars Most granola bars are loaded with hydrogenated, processed oils (trans fats) and high fructose corn syrup. These artificial ingredients are not permitted additives in certified organic products.  It’s as easy as reading labels and buying organic varieties free of these processed ingredients.  But if you don’t like your options, get a little creative in the kitchen.  Here’s Sara Snow’s favorite granola bar recipe to get your started.

 

Fruit snacks may have the word fruit in the name, but don’t count on that even being one of the ingredients. Common brands often contain artificial colors, flavors, petroleum-based waxes and high fructose corn syrup. Yuck!  Try to choose brands with natural ingredients and real organic fruit juices. Or simply pack a piece of whole fruit.  Your child will thank you….someday, even if not today.

 

 

MORE ABOUT SARA SNOW

 

Green Lifestyle Expert / TV Host / Author

Sara Snow is a Green Lifestyle Expert, TV Host and Author with a passion for healthy living and the creation of a more sustainable planet.  As creator and host of GET FRESH WITH SARA SNOW and LIVING FRESH for the Discovery Networks, host of BIG GREEN LIES for the Fine Living Channel, as well as through her book, SARA SNOW’S FRESH LIVING, Sara shares a message of simple, attainable green living.  It’s the same message she, daughter of organic-foods pioneer, Tim Redmond, grew up with.  Sara is also a frequent public speaker and media contributor and sits on the board of directors of the non-profit groups The Organic Center and Holistic Moms Network.

Learn more at www.sarasnow.com

Kids Recipes, Organic Recipes
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