For many moms-to-be, while they are trying to get pregnant they have already been making sure their diet measures up in key ways: limiting alcohol, popping that daily prenatal vitamin, and eating foods rich in nutrients their baby needs for optimal development, like folic acid and omega-3 fats.
Yet in the past decade we’ve discovered that prenatal diets are a conduit for a lot more than baby’s basic building blocks such as protein, calcium or iron. We’ve discovered, for instance, that pregnancy may actually transmit flavors to baby (including things like mint, garlic, vanilla and carrots) while she or he is in utero, possibly shaping food preferences before taken their first breath1.
Three recent epidemiological studies reported that in-utero exposure to organophosphate insecticides (a pesticide used in conventional agriculture) may be associated with lower neuro developmental biomarkers by age 72. While conventional foods are safe and nutritious, studies like these have nonetheless raised questions as to whether or not exposure to certain pesticides used in conventional agricultural practices may have longer term impact on neurodevelopment.
What to do? First, remember that health professionals agree overwhelmingly that a diet rich in nourishing whole foods-including plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and low fat dairy products- is the most important thing to be thinking about for a healthy pregnancy.
Once you have the basics covered, however, building an organic prenatal pantry may be one more positive step you can take to nourish your baby with the utmost confidence, as organic foods may reduce your baby’s exposure to potentially harmful pesticides, hormones and antibiotics used in conventional agriculture.
So to the extent you are able, try to “go organic from day one”, even if just in small steps. Add more organic fruits and vegetables to your next shopping list. Visit your local farmers market and buy local, seasonal organic produce that’s picked at peak perfection-and is often one of the most affordable ways to buy organic foods. Organic frozen fruits and vegetables are some of the best organic bargains in the supermarket, as is enjoying a hearty organic vegetarian dinner once a week, as beans are some of the most economical, protein rich options in the grocery store. When organic foods or products go on sale, stock up on and save for future use (use the pantry or the freezer, depending on the item). Many organic companies, including Earth’s Best, offer rewards programs for loyal shoppers, which is another way you can more easily build an organic pantry on a budget.
As a mother, I believe in the promise of organics to nourish all of us in a way that preserves the earth for future generations. But the dietitian in me loves that organic foods never contain artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, trans fats, genetically modified ingredients or high fructose corn syrup. A pure start for your baby (and a good habit for mom) in every sense.
While you no doubt feel the squeeze of all those baby expenses (from cribs to college!) with a little effort, many moms-to-be are surprised to discover that they can include organic foods in their diet and are already in the swing of an organic cupboard once baby comes. And as your baby grows, you can continue to nourish your infant, and then your toddler with Earth’s Best complete line of organic products.
Kate Geagan, MS, RD
Did You Know:
* In order to carry the USDA Organic Seal, a product must contain at least 95% organic ingredients?
* A product that carries the NON GMO Seal must undergo rigorous third-party product testing all the way back to the farmer?
1 Minella JA et al., “Prenatal and Postnatal Flavor Learning by Human Infants.” Pediatrics 2001;107;e88.
2 Rauh, V., et al., "7-Year Neurodevelopmental Scores and Prenatal Exposure to Chlorpyrifos, a Common Agricultural Insecticide," Environmental Health Perspectives, online April 21, 2011
Bouchard, M.E., et al., "Prenatal Exposure to OP Pesticides and IQ in 7-Year Old Children," Environmental Health Perspectives, online April 21, 2011
Engel, S.M., et al., "Prenatal Exposure to OPs, Paraoxonase 1, and Cognitive Development in Children," Environmental Health Perspectives, online April 21, 2011