I have an 11-year-old vegetarian, who loves tofu, dipping baguette into balsamic vinegar, and a few canned food products, such as coconut milk.
Oh, and put him off his food. Consider:
- On Monday, our local paper revealed that eating just one tablespoon a day of some brands of balsamic vinegar could raise a young child’s lead levels by more than 30 percent. Now my son worries that his fav appetizer, and its potential link to lead-induced lower IQ, will mess up his mind. (Find a list of vinegars with lower lead levels here.)
- In the news last week, a Consumer Reports investigation found canned foods, including soups, juice, and green beans, contain measurable levels of Bisphenol A (BPA), a toxic material linked to loads of horrible health abnormalities. My 5th grader has sworn off canned tomatoes and black beans. Help: Are there any BPA-free cans out there?
- At least tofu, and its main ingredient soy protein, wasn’t touted as a potentially dangerous food in the last 10 days, though it has been in the recent past, with reports of males developing breast tissue and other nightmarish stuff no pre-pubescent boy wants to think about.
Beyond buying fresh, organic, locally sourced fruit & veg, checking labels for icky additives and unknown, questionable ingredients, and minimizing the amount of refined sugar, simple carbohydrates, and saturated fats our kids consume what’s a parent to do?
I subscribe to nutritionist Marion Nestle‘s simple premise: Variety, balance, and moderation and Michael Pollan‘s poetic: Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much. But I’m not sure such messages are much comfort to confused kids scanning the morning paper over a bowl of porridge.
What do you tell your children about the potential dangers of canned goods, seafood, tofu, balsamic vinegar, or any other foods that wind up in alarming headlines? And how do these stories influence your own choices at the grocery checkout? I’m all ears.