Thursday, September 9, 2010

"My Toes Look Like Cinnamon Donuts!"

Labor Day 2010 is now a fading memory and so is Summer Break 2010. School is in session for kids everywhere, and it is highly probable that one of their first assignments will be an essay or drawing titled, "What I Did On My Summer Vacation".  I could have used that as the title for this post, but it seemed too cliche. Instead,  I went with something very unique and original, just like the little person who uttered this silly sentence.

I view summer vacation as a must for every family with kids of any age. Whether it is a long weekend camping in a tent at a state park, visiting distant relatives, or globe-trotting to foreign lands with the kids, these experiences become the stories your children will tell friends, teachers, and eventually one day, their own children. Travel opens their eyes to new cultures, bizarre food, and the wonders of Mother Nature. Travel teaches children about flexibility, respect for others, and of course, the quirks of airport security. Travel expands their world beyond the comforts of home.  Travel is a classroom. 

Ever since I was a child, I have loved to travel. I remember donning my best dress to get on an airplane (I miss those days as I now see fellow travelers looking as if they just rolled out of bed). I remember feeling so mature and sophisticated when I received my first set of matching luggage at the age of thirteen (a 3 piece navy and maroon Samsonite set). I have so many memories of all those trips I took as a kid. I still love to travel and I enjoy it more when I can share it with my own kids.

Seeing that we have family and friends spread from coast to coast, we travel every chance we can - Spring Break,  Fall Break, Winter Break, and of course, the requisite Summer Vacation. (At this moment, Vacation by The Go-Go's is taking me back to 1982 in my mind.) This summer, my children, husband, and I went for a 2-week-long adventure in California. With family in SoCal, Los Angeles was a perfect starting point for our coastal drive to the north.  We took our time to take in the sites along the way. We trekked through several coastal towns like Santa Barbara, where after visiting there, I decided that the UCSB students are the luckiest (or perhaps the most spoiled) coeds in the world.  We toured the over-the-top luxurious Hearst Castle and imagined what life must have been like in its heyday.  In sharp contrast, we visited Alcatraz and imagined what life must have been like there too. We spent five days climbing the alpine-like streets of San Francisco, and I think each one of us left a little piece of our hearts there.  We strolled famous beaches - Pismo, Pebble, and Piedras Blancas - where we watched elephant seals spar, surfers dance on the waves and miniature crabs scurry as the tide rolled out.  We explored the groves of giant Redwoods in Muir Woods, in awe of all the natural beauty.  Outside of the unseasonably chilly temperatures and a little carsickness, it was the best vacation we have had to date, in thanks to my family for their "go with the flow" attitude and and zeal for spontaneity.  However, with all the fabulous and and famous places we visited, my favorite memory was hearing my 8 year old son so astutely say "My toes look like cinnamon donuts" as we were leaving the beach in search of the foot shower in Pismo. This image still makes me smile.

Every family has to make their own memories and adventure in the world. I just share mine with you to stress the importance a family vacation. Time away from the everyday routine of work, school, sports, and housework is needed by everyone in the family. Vacations bond a family with the shared experiences, inside jokes, and of course, the 704 photos that are taken along the way. When you really think about it...we have 18 years to hold onto our children before sending them out on their own, which means we have 18 summer vacations. However, you have to exclude the first few years, because the kids won't remember a thing. Also you have to exclude the time from 14 to 18 years of age because they think you don't know anything and would rather text or Facebook than explore the world with their parents. Despite all of this, take a family vacation every year, and in those middle ten or so years, savor them and create memories that will last a lifetime, and perhaps into the next generation too. Safe travels to you!

© Copyright The Baby Squad, LLC, All right reserved.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!!

With Mother's Day upon us, I thought that writing about this centuries-old tradition was in order. I have always believed that this over-commercialized holiday was the brainchild of the greeting card companies, but I was wrong. Countries, the world-around, have been celebrating their mothers for more than a millennium or two. England honored moms with Mothering Sunday held each year during the Lenten season. The ancient Greeks feted Rhea, the Mother of the Gods, while early Egyptians held an annual springtime festival to honor Isis, the Mother of the Pharaohs.  Back here in the USA, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed, "Now, Therefore, I, Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the said Joint Resolution, do hereby direct the government officials to display the United States flag on all government buildings and do invite the people of the United States to display the flag at their homes or other suitable places on the second Sunday in May as a public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country." 

It has been 96 years since Wilson made Mother's Day a national holiday. So, I ask you, how did we go from displaying the flag as our expression of love and reverence for our mothers to lavish gifts of diamonds, flower bouquets, fancy greeting cards that play sappy songs, and brunch buffets at the country club? I personally love the simple gifts from my children. I especially adore their cards, tenderly crafted by hand with construction paper, glitter, and glue stick, and those sweet sentiments inside that come straight from the heart. Every year, with the help of their dad, my kids make a stepping stone for my garden. I now have quite a collection - all dated, decorated with shiny stones and other trinkets surrounding the little hand impressions. It is bittersweet to compare their hands from year to year...oh how they have grown! What is your favorite Mother's Day memory, gift, or activity you have with your children? Please share them with us.

For all the moms in the world, I wish you the happiest of days. May you have an endless supply of hugs and kisses from your kids. Enjoy this day because when these 24 hours pass, it will be all about them again. Happy Mother's Day!!

© Copyright The Baby Squad, LLC, All right reserved.

Monday, April 19, 2010

How Much Is Too Much? An Over-scheduled Kid

You know the saying that "time flies...", well I think my time boarded the Space Shuttle when I wasn't looking.  Does this mean I am having exponentially more fun? Maybe. It has been 3 months since I last posted. Writing posts has been on my To-Do list everyday since January 19th, but it somehow got pushed to the next day, the next week, and then, the next month. The reason for this was not from a lack of inspiration or content, as I have a folder of ideas for future posts. All I really can say is that life got in the way! I have two busy children, both involved in school, scouts, and swimming, not to mention birthday parties, sleepovers, and lots of homework. Our schedule revolves around these activities.  However, I am more than happy to be the party hostess, carpooler, and nightly homework checker. I am, after all, a mom.

Looking at the rainbow-colored days in my iCal, I have to ask myself, "How much is too much?".  Where do we draw the line on activities, sports, and other commitments our children have? My 10 year old daughter swims 6 evenings a week while my 8 year old son swims 4 evenings a week. They also have scouts on alternate weeks, which means someone always has a meeting to attend every week. This is their choice, not mine. Fifth grade track just started, and my daughter insisted on doing that too.   Last month, she qualified to swim in the Age Group State Championship meet. In preparation for that awesome opportunity, she swam 2+ hours each day, 6 days a week, and it was mandatory. Counting the days for meets and practices, she swam 23 out of 24 consecutive days. She missed one day because she had strep throat, which no doubt was brought on by an opportunistic bacterium combined with sheer exhaustion in the host. This meet was an experience of a lifetime for her, but it came with a cost.  She was tearful and stressed in the days leading up to the big weekend, and so was her mother. While at the State meet, I chuckled when I saw a fellow swim parent wearing a T-shirt that read "If I only had one day to live, I would spend it at a swim meet. They last forever!" By the end of the meet, she was so proud of her accomplishments and it was great to be part of the champion team. I was proud beyond words and thrilled to see her compete at that level. I was even excited to be her swim taxi. I am, after all, a mom.

So, how do other families handle kid's activities and maintain the balance of family life? I can't imagine the chaotic schedules of three or more children, like my friends. Are family dinners every night a thing of the past? It seems like sports have longer seasons and are more competitive than I remember at that age. Also, kids tend to play simultaneous sports or participate in both rec and travel leagues in the same sport.  Are kids choosing this for the love of the sport, the fun of friendly competition, or is it pressure from parents and coaches to be the best or to get that coveted college scholarship? Did you know that a young athlete has about a 0.00001% chance of being an Olympian? The odds of going pro are doubly better at 0.00002%. Having goals for children is a great thing, but unrealistic goals are detrimental to their developing psyche.  It is a known that most children who participate in sports and other activities excel in school, are less likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol, have a more positive self-esteem, and tend to be more successful as adults. However, all the positives of involvement in sports and other activities are negated by the pressure by parents, teachers and coaches to "do it all" and "be the best". 

Are your kids over-scheduled? Most likely they are. Mine are. This is fine because they enjoy what they are doing. I just miss the days when they were younger and life was easier in some ways.  After listening to parents in the stands at meets, in my neighborhood, and in my office, I believe that parenting is the newest competitive sport. I do not want to fall into that trap. I tell my kids it is OK to skip a practice or other activity occasionally, but at the same time I encourage them to follow through on their commitment they made to participate in a troop or on a team. There will be a day when all kids wake up and ask where their childhood went. I have to hope that when this happens to my kids, I can reply with "Time flies when you're having fun!".

© Copyright The Baby Squad, LLC, All right reserved.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Are You Smarter Than Your "Smart" Phone?

Today I write this post with a serious tone - no humorous anecdotes, no personal tales - just the sobering facts about a very deadly habit for the majority of drivers.  Do you talk on your cell phone (hand-held or hands-free) while driving? Do you text while driving? Do you Tweet or Facebook while driving? Do you read or answer your emails while driving? If you do, you are not alone.  A Nationwide Insurance public opinion poll found that 81 percent of people admit they text or talk on the phone while they drive. America has an addiction to cell phones, especially those "smart phones" that can do anything, anytime, anywhere - including your car. You may think that you are a great driver with a stellar record or that you are a mom who needs to multitask while driving carpool for hours each day or that it is only illegal if you are caught using your phone while driving (in the few states with hand-held cell phone bans) or maybe you are stuck in perpetual adolescence and believe that nothing bad will happen to you. The truth of the matter is, if you use a cell phone for any reason while driving, you are a distracted driver. Same goes for more than three-quarters of the people driving in their cars. around you and your family.  However this problem is not limited to just motorists in cars, but also train engineers, semi-truck drivers, and pedestrians too.  Put this all together and you have a recipe for disaster. 

The National Safety Council cited a 2003 study from the Harvard Center of Risk Analysis that estimated cell-phone use by drivers contributes to 6 percent of crashes, resulting in 330,000 injuries, 12,000 of them serious and 2,600 of them fatal, each year. It also estimated the annual financial cost of cell-phone-related crashes at $43 billion. As horrible as these statistics are, this problem has only worsened. More current trends show that nearly 500,000 people are injured and 6,000 are killed each year because drivers are distracted by using cell phones - either talking, texting and e-mailing.

Driving and cell phone use is not a new problem. Cell phones have been around for decades. In fact, in the late 1980's and early 1990's, cell phones were actually a life-saving device. Quick calls to emergency rescue teams meant early treatment for injured and ill people.  However by the mid 1990's, cell phone use exploded in popularity, and this life-saving effect was offset by the number of accidents and injuries caused by drivers using a cell phone. Back in 1997, the New England Journal of Medicine reported that cell phone use while driving is extremely dangerous and puts drivers at a four times greater risk for a crash. This habit is compared to drunk driving in terms of risk. A recent study published in the Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society evaluated drivers under various conditions in a driving simulator. The test subjects were placed in one of four scenarios; one with no distractions, one using a hand-held cell phone, one using a hands-free cell phone, and lastly, one while intoxicated to the 0.08 percent blood-alcohol level. Although it was a small study, it demonstrated that drivers on a cell phone drove more slowly, braked more slowly and were more likely to crash. In fact, almost 10% of the drivers "collided" into the pace car while on cell phones. None of the drunken drivers crashed. So if research has shown us that driving while using a cell phone is as risky or possibly more than drunk driving, why haven't our state governments enacted a complete ban on their usage while behind the wheel. Drunk driving is against the law in all 50 states. Six states have a ban on hand-held devices but hands-free devices are still a distraction to all drivers, according to a University of Utah study.  If you want to know more about the cell phone laws in your state, please visit

Now that you know the depth and breadth of this deadly addiction that you or someone you know may have, what are you going to do about it? The first step to changing any behavior is awareness. I hope that by reading this post, I have raised your awareness and that you will do your part to spread the word to others. We can not rely on the state legislation's agenda to make this a priority. We, as citizens, need to make this change come about ourselves. Yesterday, on The Oprah Show, Oprah spoke with guests who had lost a loved one in a cell phone related accident. She also featured a new organization, FocusDriven: Advocates for Cell-Free Driving. Similar to MADD, they are raising awareness of this all too tragic issue. If you watched it, I hope you took the poignant message to heart and pledged to make your car A No-Phone Zone. I did!  If you missed it, then please visit for more details and to make the No Phone Zone Pledge.  

"I pledge to make my car a No Phone Zone. Beginning right now,  I will do my part to help put an end to distracted driving by not texting or using my phone while I am driving.  I will ask other drivers I know to do the same.  I pledge to make a difference."

I promise you it will make you smarter than your "smart" phone.

© Copyright The Baby Squad, LLC, All right reserved.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Deck The Halls with Boughs of Poison, Falalalalalalalala

Judging by the traffic at the mall, the winter holiday season must be in full swing. I love the food, music, and other traditional festivities of Christmas and Hanukkah. My kids are now at the age that the holidays more manageable - gifts are smaller (but pricier), they play well together, and they help me decorate cookies without licking their fingers every three seconds. Nonetheless,  I still fondly recall the days when they were babies.  With the car loaded up - Pack 'n Play, swing, blankies, friends, and all the gifts - we would head out on our evening journey to a visit our families scattered throughout the Midwest. This was no small feat with four sets of grandparents, not to mention Chicago weather in December. Once at our destination, there was little rest for the road weary parents. The kids were wide awake from their five hour power nap in the car and the grandparents were chomping at the bit for the kids to open a gift even though it was about midnight local time. We knew from that point forward and until our return home, our children were spoiled and broken of all set routines. Oh the memories of holidays past!

Just the other day, I was discussing holiday plans with my sister-in-law. She is the mother to Harry, an almost 3-year-old-I-need-to touch-everything-that-is-breakable-or-dangerous boy and little 7-month-old Max, who can traverse the floor, caterpillar-style, with a world record pace.  Our families are spread over a three state region, so inevitably there is travel involved this time of year.  To help her get through the coming weeks of chaos, I tried to think of some sage advice. My tips included how to tactfully tell the grandmothers that babies do not NEED cookies, a few diversions to get a willful two-year-old to let go of grandma's tchotchke without dropping it after ineffectively, but calmly saying, "No, Don't Touch That!" a few hundred times, plus ways to simplify shopping with these perfect words "free shipping to anywhere in the US". Unfortunately the latter only works for gift giving, not receiving, and as we seasoned parents know...grandparents tend to buy the largest plastic playthings available, that once assembled cannot be undone. So my best advice to Crystal is to have a glass or three of wine, sit back and enjoy the show. She can relax in the quietness of her car on her trip home with the Little Tikes 6-in-1 Town Center Playhouse in her lap.

The winter holiday season presents unique situations when it comes to keeping children safe. There are special hazards inside and outside the home. Additionally, airline travel, hotels, visiting relatives in environments that may not be childproofed, disruption of normal routines and seasonal festivities mean that parents are often distracted. This recipe for disaster may leave little ones with less than optimum supervision. Here are some safety tips from The Baby Squad to help you make it through the holidays in one piece.

Trees - A Christmas tree is found in many homes during the holidays. It is important to have a fresh tree that is properly watered and placed away from fireplaces, radiators, and space heaters.  If an artificial tree is used, look for a “Fire Resistant” label. Do not allow children to handle the tree lights. Not only is there an electrocution risk but many light strands contain lead in the plastic coverings. Avoid using bubble lights as they contain a chemical found in paint thinner. Never use candles on or around a tree. Check for faulty light strands and do not overload outlets or extension cords.

Decorations - Both the tree and home are often decorated with brightly colored and enticing objects.  In homes with small children, it is best to avoid decorations that are small, sharp, and fragile. Antique and foreign-made ornaments may contain lead paint. Contrary to popular belief, the poinsettia is not a very poisonous plant, but holly and mistletoe are common holiday plants that are quite poisonous. Do not use them in homes with young children and pets. Avoid the use of decorative candles in houses with small children. Keep the Hanukkah menorah well out of the reach of children and pets. Keep a fire extinguisher handy. Check that smoke alarms are in working order. 

Toys and Gifts - It is very important to select toys that are appropriate to a child’s age and developmental skills. Always read the instructions for a new toy. Toys with small parts and strings are choking hazards for young children. Discard wrappings, ribbons, boxes, packing materials, and plastic wrap immediately after opening gifts. Do not burn these materials in the fireplace as a flash fire and toxic fumes may result.

Visiting - Most families either travel during the holidays or have visitors in their home.  It is important to remember that other homes may not be childproofed like your own home.  Grandparents may have medications that is not in a child proof container. There are many hazards present with crowds at parties. Supervision is key when in a new environment. Remember to travel with important phone numbers such as your child’s pediatrician and the National Poison Help Line, 1-800-222-1222. Slick roads and sidewalks can  be perilous, especially for young children and adults carrying them. Keeps walkways clear of snow and ice. Slow down when driving in adverse weather. Always buckle up and secure children in an appropriate safety seat.

So deck your halls with any non-poisonous, non-breakable, lead-free, large, kid-friendly objects you have, and enjoy all that the holidays bring your way. The Baby Squad wishes everyone a safe and happy holiday season.

 © Copyright The Baby Squad, LLC, All right reserved.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sex Ed and Santa - The Dichotomy Facing Our Tweens

Do you remember how old you were when you learned about puberty? The birds and the bees? Was your innocence shattered by a parent, a friend, a sibling, or "The Movie" brought to you by our friends at Kotex? I have an older sister so I was in the know earlier than the norm. Much of the information I was told came from her, served with a large helping of disbelief and a side of shock and horror. None of it made sense to my mind that was too young to absorb the facts of life. Too embarrassed to ask my own mother, I went to the next best resource in 4th grade - The World Book Encyclopedia! Contained in its volumes were the words - menstruation and sexual intercourse - I learned from my sister. Paul Rosenkranz and I giggled at the back of Mrs. Vaughey's classroom as we filled our brains with facts that were too bizarre to comprehend. Our only escape from our discomfort was laughter.

Well, here I am many years later, facing this topic with my own 10 year old daughter. The clock is ticking with 7 days until she views "The Movie" with her fifth grade classmates. Last week, I had the parental obligation of previewing this film at her school. It was corny and full of 80's hair and fashion styles, but the information was well presented and factual. The teacher recommended that we brief our kids on the movie beforehand, so there would be no surprises at school (and probably less snickering).  I knew today was the day - my husband was at the gym and my son was at a friend's house. We were alone and there were no "boy" ears to overhear this delicate conversation that was about to take place. So like any good mother, I scooped up spoonfuls of chocolate chip cookie dough and sat down with my daughter to burst her bubble of innocence. She quietly and tearfully listened as I described the pubertal changes that we all must endure. I introduced her to some new terms that will never appear on her vocabulary list for English class. I am fairly confident that I rocked her secure, little world. Overall, I feel it went well and that she actually heard what I was saying. In the past, we have had related discussions, mostly about personal hygiene, friends, and privacy, that laid the groundwork of today's topic.  I know this is just the beginning of a new chapter in her childhood, and there are many more conversations ahead of us, likely with more detail. Until that time comes, I will enjoy this tween phase with my daughter who still believes in Santa, plays with American Girl dolls, and sleeps with her baby blankets.  So as I tucked my baby girl in bed tonight, I realized that this new knowledge does not mean the end of her innocence, just a new awareness of the people and world around her, and that is a good thing.

For years, I have counseled parents about sexuality in children. Teaching a child about sexuality begins at birth through the trust and intimacy they have with their parents. A parent unknowingly models sexuality by having gender-specific roles, clothing they wear, and how they show affection. Toddlers are curious about their bodies. Preschoolers ask "Where do babies come from?", and school-aged children pick up sexual messages from TV and their peers. By nine years of age, most children know something about puberty or may be entering into it themselves. Parents are supposed to guide their children through each stage of this budding sexuality. Teaching sexuality to children is as important as teaching them about a healthy diet. It does not culminate with one conversation when puberty is knocking at the door. Teaching about the physical characteristics of sexuality is such a small part compared to teaching and modeling the emotional aspects of sexuality - family values, respect for others, and having a strong sense of self-worth.  I have found two resources to be invaluable for this topic - "Becoming an Askable Parent" by the American Social Health Association and The American Girl book, "The Care and Keeping of You".  Find them and read them before you think you need to - chances are if you are thinking about it, your child already has been for a long time. As always, your health care provider can also be a great resource. Keep your mind and your ears open and the answers will come your way.

 © Copyright The Baby Squad, LLC, All right reserved.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Big "O" - Is It All That It Is Cracked Up To Be?

OK people, get your minds off of whatever you think I was implying and onto your grocery list - I am talking organic food here.

A friend of mine recently asked me about organic food and if I thought that it is worth the expense for her children. My immediate response was yes, and I based this answer on my own research of this topic and my knowledge of the basic physiological differences between children and adults. Over the past few years, there has been much controversy surrounding organic foods and I believe the organic movement is gaining momentum, as evidenced by the growing supply at my local stores.  Critics argue that organic food is too expensive and the health benefits are unproven. Proponents claim that the long-term safety of food additives and pesticides is unknown. I partially agree with both sides - going organic can be an expensive endeavor (50% or more cost over non-organic food), but at the same time, I worry about those unnatural food additives and pesticides and the potential harmful effect on growing bodies and brains, not to mention the devastation that conventional farming does to our environment (a topic for another post). Does my level of concern warrant the expense of feeding organic food to children and pregnant women? Absolutely! Science has proven that a fetus develops faster than at any other point in life and that rapidly dividing cells are susceptible to damage from chemicals (think DDT and DES).  Additionally, children between 1 and 5 years of age eat 3-4 times more food per kilogram of body weight than an average adult. This means they ingest 3-4 times the food additives and chemicals per kilogram of body weight and possess immature liver and kidney function to detoxify and excrete contaminants, unlike adults.  A study done in Seattle a few years ago looked at school age kids with 100% of them having pesticides detected in the urine. All students were put on an organic diet and after 4 days of the diet, only 1 child in study had pesticides remaining in the urine. Our bodies are remarkable machines, but our bodies should not be used as filtration factories for food additives and pesticides.

So what does it mean to be organic? Many products tout an organic origin but to truly know what you are buying you need to start reading the labels on your food.  To be Certified Organic, the food must be grown/raised, handled and processed without conventional pesticides or herbicides, synthetic fertilizers, antibiotics, growth hormones, genetic engineering or irradiation - and produced with the emphasis on soil and water conservation. While 100% Organic means the food must contain at least 95% organic ingredients. Any product that uses “Made with Organic Ingredients” on the front label must contain at least 70% organic ingredients. Any food with less than 70% of organic ingredients can claim to be organic but can only be listed on the side panel.  "Free Range" is not organic as it is not standardized and only means that the animal spent some time outside each day.

Like everything in life, we have to weigh the pros and cons and make our decisions based on  information available to us.  I realize that feeding a family a diet of organic food is costly, but health care is even more expensive. I usually make choices for my family based on health consequences before cost. So I choose to feed my children many organic foods but not everything. Oreos are not, nor ever will be, organic, but I am OK with that.   

We drink organic milk because my kids drink a lot of milk. It is free of Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH), which has been used in the US since 1994 to boost milk production by 25%. I personally think that messing with nature's hormone balance in animals is like playing with fire - someone will get burned.  In addition to rBGH, there are antibiotics injected into the cows to keep them (the cows) healthy. My kids are healthy and do not need cow antibiotics. These antibiotics were banned in Europe over a decade ago, and interestly, there has been a decrease in bacterial resistance to important live-saving human antibiotics.  Hmmm...maybe there is a correlation between the higher number of children I see with ear tubes now compared to when I started practicing over 15 years ago. Also down the dairy aisle are eggs, although not technically a dairy product. Organic hens roam free and are fed only grains. They lay organic eggs that are higher in vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids and have less cholesterol. Non-organic hens are kept in cages smaller than an 8x11 sheet of paper, have their beaks trimmed, and are fed an unnatural diet. Easy choice here!  

Fruits and vegetables are also a huge part of my kids' intake so we try to get organic as much as possible. We try to buy seasonal fruits from local sources and have grown some great fruit and veggies in our home garden. Nothing is fresher than homegrown - no pesticides used and no pests either - except for the bunnies that nibbled our pepper plants a bit. If homegrown or local sources are not an option then use the lists from The Environmental Working Group to help you decide which produce is better if organic or not.
  • "The Dirty Dozen" (Buy organic - highest in pesticides) peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, lettuce, grapes (imported), pears, spinach, and potatoes.
  • "The Cleanest 12" (lowest in pesticides) onions, avocados, sweet corn (frozen), pineapples, mangoes, sweet peas (frozen) asparagus, kiwis, bananas, cabbage, broccoli, eggplant. 
I am not here to argue about vegetarianism. It is a lifestyle that most Americans have not adopted. It is a personal choice. So if you are a vegetarian, please skip this paragraph as I discuss organic meat. First,  I have to say the organic meat and poultry is a little more difficult to find and the selection is  limited. However, organic beef is healthier for our bodies and our environment so I continue my search. Conventionally farmed cattle is fed a steady diet of corn or other grains.  When a cow is fed a corn-filled diet, it alters the acidity in their stomachs causing the overgrowth of the bacteria E.coli O157:H7 which is then treated with antibiotics. This bacteria can make cows sick and has been the culprit in countless meat recalls and illness and deaths in humans, especially children. Cows are grazers by nature, and organic cattle are allowed to roam and feed on grasses, leading to leaner, healthier cows without the use of antibiotics.  It is a similar story for organic farmed chickens.

So as I presented you a little "food for thought", I hope you do a bit of research on your own as you make decisions about feeding your family. I suggest visiting the website of the Environmental Working Group or if you are in the Indianapolis area check out The Baby Squad's "Growing Up Green" class on December 14, 2009. Maybe then, you too, will agree with me and many others that The Big "O" is all that and much more.

 © Copyright The Baby Squad, LLC, All right reserved.