Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Don't Panic

There's so much stuff out there.  It's like a buzzing in my head all the time and I want to swat at it, make it fly away like some bothersome bug on a damp summer's day.  It drones on and on and on and I find myself taken over by it.  What is it?  Why do we bother? 

"IT" is the warning that "X causes Y."  We are bombarded with it;  IT is ubiquitous.  So how do we know what to listen to and what is total whooey? 

I am pondering these things as my youngest child reaches that magical time in her young life when people start demanding that I feed her solid foods.  They will atoll that breastmilk is either deplete of nutrients or just plain weird after six months and insist that they all fed their four-month-olds bacon and eggs for breakfast and they turned out fine.

But did they?  What have we done to ourselves by eating what we eat?  And what has been done to us? 

The worry (and possible hysteria) that drives me is the fact that baby food comes in plastic containers.  I don't know if any of you have watched the news or listened to NPR or caught glimpses of the warnings via yahoo mail, but I am personally concerned about a little molecule commonly referred to as BPA.  Bisphenol-A is a molecule in some plastics that leaches out when said plastic is heated.  Baby foods in plastic containers have microwave instructions printed on the labels, so you can begin to see where I'm going with my panic.

To steal a phrase (from my 14 year old daughter), I'm not the brightest crayon in the box, so I'll give you a link to information on BPA and let you decide which information you'd like to believe.  BPA is controversial, as are most things that our government decides to study and put out recommendations on.  It seems that our government feels that small amounts of BPA as an individual contaminant are "okay" and we really shouldn't worry about something that is so tiny and insignificant.

So why am I worried?

I came online to resolve my panic when I found that at WIC we are going to receive baby foods for our six month old.  Upon checking into their program, I then discovered that the foods they gave were of only one brand and were packaged in plastic containers.  After doing a small amount of looking online, I contacted the manufacturer of the baby food (a VERY popular brand I'll refer to as "G") about the possibility of BPA contamination from the plastic baby food containers.  I received no response.

So I went looking and you know what I found?  A press release, dated November 2008 about how the government had looked into BPA leaching into things like baby foods and their recommendations that a little wouldn't hurt.  Seems that, at least obscurely, brand G wasn't too concerned about the leaching of BPA because the government wasn't concerned.  Oh, they would be making their bottles BPA free to follow current market trends, but they were confident that the food containers they were using were bisphenol free.

If that's the case, why didn't I receive a response from the folks at brand G?  I did get put on their spam mail list.  Guess that's my answer?

After more looking around, I found some articles about BPA-free bottles leaching BPA.  Sure, it's PPB (parts per billion) but how much is too much?  When does the BPA molecule start binding instead of passing through our body?  How many days, months, years of exposure to PPB does it take to start affecting our immune systems or our fertility?

So now I pose to you this question:  What do we worry about?  I'm having a difficult time figuring out whether I should worry (okay, obsess) over the possibility that my children are being exposed to BPA, in minute amounts, in plastics, aluminum cans, and on cash register receipts (?).  We worry about EMF's and over-exposure to violence on television.  I don't let them stand too close to the microwave or drink too much juice.  I do worry about the big stuff, without question, but how much of the parts per billion or trillion do we even know about and which ones are worth our time and energy to be concerned about?

I have decided to take a deep breath and just go with the flow.  Sort of defeatist, I realize, but what else can I do?  I just hope that our bodies can evolve into processing some of the mutitudes of things that are around us that are impossible to worry about or that we stay ignorant about all of the junk and just plug in and plug along. 


Anonymous said...

Just make your own!! It costs almost nothing, you control the ingredients, and you don't have to worry!!!

jen said...

yea, we did that with natalie. i am nagging wic to either give out the food or give the child their own fruit/veg voucher. they insist that breastfed babies need the meats. grrr. that's another rant, er um post!

Brans said...

I understand all too well how you feel. First let me start by saying "IT" is often over-hyped. Media sensationalism at its finest. USUALLY studies don't show that "X causes Y" as the media reports. Generally we get "X is linked to Y" or more likely "X has shown to increase the risk for Y" because there are so many variables involved that unless it's a communicable disease, X does not always equal Y. That's not a sexy headline tho.

As for what to worry about. I don't know that you can honestly keep yourself and your kids from everything there is to worry about. In fact I know that you can't. You do the best you can with what you've got and the circumstances in your life. I do not have the time or energy it takes to make my own baby food. I just don't. I can make a little every once in a while, but right this minute I'm doing good to get dinner on the table, bottles cleaned and fixed, bags packed, us cleaned and out the door sometimes on time, all the while still nursing him and trying to listen to whatever DD has to say (usually it's "play with me mama").

Sometimes I really wish I did. Sometimes I want to unplug and get off the wheel and keep up the garden, hunting our meat, and living off the land as opposed to all the "conveniences" that we pay so dearly for. And sometimes I do if only for a short time.

But my point here is that breathing the air, riding in the cars, watching the tvs, and eating the foods that we eat all come with a price. I certainly don't blame "big ag" for our foods because they are doing the best they can to feed the world. No it's not like you can make in your own garden, but that requires your time and effort and appeal, they must appeal to, as well as feed, the masses.

Again, you do the best you can with what you've got in your circumstances and know that you won't avoid every risk out there.

Brans said...

oh and by "big ag" I didn't mean baby food company "G" lol. I meant farmers, esp family farmers.

Anonymous said...

If they give you carrots and dried beans where you are, that's a great start and they don't need meat if they're eating beans or lentils. I wouldn't feed my kids the food in the glass jars even if someone GAVE it to me. Yuck.

Anonymous said...

Get yourself a Magic Bullet - throw some of your supper in there - and voila! You've got yourself some homemade baby food :) But, at the same time, if it's something that you feel strongly about, don't stop nagging them! Remember, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

jen said...

Oh Brandy, I 100% agree with everything you are saying. I know that the minute 'they' locked up the food, the rest of us were doomed to work for it.

As far as what to worry about, well, I just have to fight the big battles and hope that wins the war.

And to the two anonymous posters: yup, I can make baby food. Yup, I am a SAHM and I have the time. Amelia has food sensitivities and the last thing I want to do is feed her beans and carrots. I've done homemade baby food before. It's cool and easy and great fun. However, I don't have a garden spot at the moment and have you priced fresh veggies?

I don't take help. I don't abuse or use the system. I get WIC. That's about it aside from the medical my older kids get due to their father being disabled (and my dh keeps insurance on them, too).

I've decided to use the WIC foods and just roll with it. I'm not going to start with the meats for a bit, but I've just had to swallow down that inkling of 'what if' and feed her the 'stuff in the jars.'