My Take on the NYT Article Regarding Organic Baby/Toddler Food in Plastic Pouches

Written by Max Goldberg on June 28, 2012. Follow Max on Twitter: @livingmaxwell.

On my Facebook page the other day, I posted a link to The New York Times story about the incredible growth of organic baby/kids food in squeezable pouches and how these convenient products have impacted the family dynamic. This article generated some questions from a few of you, and I thought that I would address them here.

First off, the article is not an indictment against organic. (Many parents know that organic is much, much healthier than conventional food, and that is one reason why organic pouches are booming in popularity.)

Rather, the NYT article discusses how our lives have become so busy, so scheduled, and so hectic that organic food in a pouch is slowly becoming the de facto way to feed our kids.

As a result, the family ritual of dinnertime is going by the wayside, a very sad commentary.

Even though parents may be buying these organic food pouches for themselves or for their children because of time constraints, there is something very important to keep in mind here.

People should not believe that these pouches are acceptable on a regular basis as meal replacements for kids.

Not only are children being deprived of home-cooked, organic meals but these pouches are made of plastic.

How harmful is this plastic to the human body? If it contains Bisphenol-A (BPA), we know it causes real problems.

If it doesn’t contain BPA, it contains some other chemicals that may have a similar type of negative effect.

The unfortunate reality is that the world of synthetic chemicals is incredibly opaque — on purpose. We just don’t know a lot about these chemicals and what problems they may cause.

What is safe is to assume, however, is that the plastic leaches into food. And this is much more of an issue for kids than adults. Why?

Their brains and bodies are still developing, and the chemicals can interfere with the normal functioning of the endocrine system. Also, on a pound for pound basis, kids eat 3-4 times more food than adults.

While I may not be as susceptible to plastic as a child, I still take precaution and this is the exact reason why I use glass water bottles. I try as hard as I can not to drink from plastic.

All this being said, I promote organic food, write about organic products, and encourage people to eat as much organic as possible.

Furthermore, I purchase and consume organic products that come in plastic bags. So, I am not 100% plastic-free. Not even remotely close.

My goal of this post is to simply raise people’s awareness that the packaging of organic food is something that always needs to be taken into consideration and that the importance of home-cooked organic meals cannot be underestimated.

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5 Comments

  1. Max – great post!

    You could have easily gone on for another 5 pages on this very important subject. From family values, to health concerns, there’s a lot there.

    I disagree on one issue: “When I speak with founders of small organic food companies, a lot of them express a strong desire to offer sustainable packaging but they just don’t have many options.” Being organic before the product goes into the package is completely irrelevant if the product that comes out of the package is no longer organic due to absorption of toxic chemicals. What’s the point of buying organic if what you ultimately eat isn’t? That’s the message I take way from your article.

    In my home, we are very happy to support the organic industry and especially the mom and pop small producers, start-ups, and visionaries. However, if they don’t see to it that the product I put in my mouth is organic, they are simply in business for the money, dare I say like Monsanto?

    I realize that the organic industry is comparatively small compared to the mainstream market, but you would think that some packaging companies would seize the opportunity to build their businesses into the future by catering to organic producers and developing safe packaging.

    Written by Ken Lonyai on July 24, 2012 @ 10:57 am
  2. Hi Ken,

    Thanks so much for your comment. My point of the post was to make people aware of the packaging that they are buying and its impact it will have on a person’s health. And that simply because a product is organic doesn’t mean that we should ignore what it comes in.

    For most of us, is going 100% plastic-free a realistic goal? I would say no. Is the packaging in organic perfect? Absolutely not.

    However, if we are going to buy a food product, isn’t it better that it is organic before it goes into the packaging? I just want people to be aware that certified organic matters and so does the packaging.

    Live well,
    Max

    Written by Max Goldberg on July 25, 2012 @ 9:44 am
  3. Max – you have a great post and great topic – no criticism intended.

    “…isn’t it better that it is organic before it goes into the packaging?” I might be an extremist on this issue, but no, I don’t think it’s necessarily better that an organic product is in a toxic container.

    1) It gives people a false sense of food safety/health.

    2) BPA (one example) is considered to be bad stuff amongst many scientists and health conscious people. Allowing it into foods that are healthier (organic) when they go in to the package, doesn’t negate the effects of ingesting the stuff.

    3) Consumers pay more for organics (most of the time), so why pay more for what is ultimately tainted food?

    For example, canned beans and tomatoes are the two most affected BPA foods and they can be put in jars. The jar cap liners can be made w/o BPA. We buy pureed tomatoes in the jar and will be switching to bulk organic beans until a jarred variety hits the market. We would pay another $.1 – $.2 additional for safe packaging and believe most organic consumers would too (unhappily of course!). And a smart brand could really parlay 100% BPA (or plastic free) packaging into a nice marketing message!

    I hope this discussion continues, it’s not that high up on many organic shoppers radar, but really should be to affect a change in the industry.

    Written by Ken Lonyai on July 25, 2012 @ 10:41 am
  4. Hi Ken,

    I greatly appreciate and share your concern for chemically-laced containers and packaging. I wrote about BPA-free cans earlier and even if there is no BPA, they have just substituted it with another potentially harmful chemical that we don’t know much about.

    Stonyfield has done a good deal of work on packaging but they have the resources and desire to do so. Without question, however, packaging is an issue that needs further discussion in the organic industry.

    Thanks for your interest and care in this important subject.

    Live well,
    Max

    Written by Max Goldberg on July 26, 2012 @ 1:14 pm
  5. Hi Ken,

    I admit that I have purchased/used these plastic pouches for both my kids when they were babies. I made all of their baby food at home, 100% organic at all times. However, I did find these pouches to be very handy when traveling. Never used them at home!! I have become much more savvy now, and if I have a 3rd child I am sure that I will figure out a way to bring a weeks worth of homemade food with us.

    Written by Jennifer Ferreira on February 26, 2013 @ 2:41 pm

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