What You Should Know About Organic Foods: Is Beech Nut Baby Food Organic?
If you are a parent, you want to ensure your child gets the best nutrition possible. You also know that good nutrition has to start at the very beginning.
If you are using baby food or formula, you want to be confident that what you are feeding your child is of the highest quality. However, finding this information isn’t always easy because some of the terms can be confusing.
- What is the difference between natural and organic?
- What does 100% natural mean?
- What difference does it make if a product is certified organic?
This article will help you to understand the difference between these terms and more importantly, how they affect your baby’s nutrition.
Before we discuss whether or not the Beech-Nut brand of baby food is organic, we first need to talk about what ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ mean when talking about food – and why the difference is important to you!
What Are Natural Foods?
The Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not have strict rules on what constitutes as natural, but they do have several guidelines. Typically, food that is labeled natural
- Does not use artificial flavors
- Uses colors derived from natural sources
- Avoids the use of preservatives
Salt is also a preservative, and they help to keep foods like potato chips or jerky fresh for a long time. However, table salt is natural and has been used for hundreds of years, so you don't want to confuse it with artificial preservatives.
Natural Does Not Necessarily Mean Better
As we mentioned earlier, the FDA does not carefully regulate the use of the terms ‘natural’ and ‘all-natural.’ Because of this, there is a lot of confusion as to whether natural foods are actually better for you.
While it is the FDA’s policy that natural foods do not contain artificially derived ingredients, they also state that “this policy was not intended to address food production methods, such as the use of pesticides…food processing or manufacturing methods.”
What this means for you and your family is that food companies have a lot of wiggle room when they claim a product to be natural. They can include added sugars which are bad for you, and they can also use genetically modified (GMO) ingredients. Natural foods may also have trans fat, but anything with over 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving must acknowledge this.
Ultimately, your well-being and the well-being of your child is up to you. If you want to make healthy choices for your baby, it is up to you.
Fortunately, this isn’t as difficult as it sounds. If you as a parent read the ingredients labels and nutrition facts on the foods you buy, you can stay informed to make healthier choices. Many foods with a natural label really are good for you and your kids, but some aren’t.
Everyone knows that we’re supposed to stay away from products that contain corn syrup, even if it’s Little Debbie. However, other things to be wary of include food starches, thickeners and natural flavors. Even if naturally derived, these are often heavily processed in factories and may not be good for you.
When reading an ingredients label, a good rule of thumb is this: if there are a lot of ingredients you’re not familiar with or words you can’t pronounce, it might be a good idea to leave it on the shelf.
Navigating Nutrition Facts
Understanding how to read the nutrition facts can go a long way in helping you to make healthy choices. Here are a few things to bear consider:
- Everyone needs some fat in their diet, but mono- and polyunsaturated fats are better than saturated fat.
- Try to limit your sodium intake, especially if you like to snack on chips.
- Foods rich in potassium and fiber are good for you, but don’t take in too much fiber.
- There is no daily value (DV) associated with sugar, but try to make sure most of your carbohydrates come from a better source.
If you look at the nutrition facts for infants, you will notice they do not measure all of the same nutrients. For example, no DV is provided for saturated or unsaturated fats. This is because babies need a lot of fat to grow, and parents should not attempt to limit the amount of fat their baby consumes.
Baby food nutrition facts will also not feature information such as carbohydrates or protein, and sodium and cholesterol aren’t a serious concern for most babies. When evaluating the ingredients in baby food, your best bet is to look at the ingredients rather than the nutrition facts.
What You Should Know About Organic Foods
Unlike foods that claim to be all-natural, foods labeled ‘organic’ have to go pass some very strict regulations to be labeled as such. As a result, organic food tends to be more expensive than other products – but they are also made with higher quality ingredients.
What’s interesting about organic food is that, just like all-natural foods today, it wasn’t always clear what ‘organic’ meant either. That’s why the FDA imposed specific regulations on organic food in 1990. It is quite likely that the FDA will do something similar for natural foods in the next few years.
The Benefits of Eating Organic
Although organic meat, produce and products cost more than standard food, there are a lot of benefits to eating organic food.
- Organic crops are grown without the use of pesticides or herbicides.
- Organic foods are preservative-free, meaning they are fresher.
- No growth hormones or antibiotics are given to organically raised animals.
Organic also means non-GMO. GMOs have been the subject of a lot of debate; not only in the scientific community but also with consumers who are concerned about the foods they eat. Although there is little scientific evidence that GMOs are harmful, some consumers prefer to avoid them anyway.
There are other benefits to eating organic as well. Organic farming and ranching are more sustainable, and they are better for the environment because they minimize pollution and reduce soil erosion. Perhaps most importantly, organically raised animal’s live healthier, happier lives.
Is Beech Nut Baby Food Organic?
In the past, not all of Beech-Nut’s products were organic, but the company is looking to make strides and improve the quality and nutritional value of their foods.
As a company, Beech-Nut has a variety of product lines, and not all of them are made according to the same specifications. Some Beech-Nut products are organic, whereas others are all-natural.
No matter which product you purchase, however, they have several things in common. For example, Beech-Nut recently joined the Non-GMO Project, which is a certification that their food products are made without the use of GMOs.
To help guide you in your decisions, we have compiled a list of all the food products offered by Beech-Nut, and list whether or not they are organic. If you are curious about the specific ingredients, Beech-Nut strives to be absolutely transparent regarding their products, and the full ingredients list for all of their products can be found on their official website.
Beech-Nut Cold purée are fruit and vegetable purées that come in ten flavors. This line of products is organic.
- Naturals are a line of all-natural baby foods. Most of them consist purely of fruits and vegetables, although some have water or trace amounts of lemon juice concentrate.
- Their Organics line consists of 30 flavors made entirely with organic ingredients.
- Beech-Nut cereals are cereals tailor-made for infants, made with whole grains and enriched with a variety of vitamins and minerals.
- Beech-Nut sells yogurt and pureed fruit/vegetables pouches aimed to give your infant or toddler snacks to eat when on the go.
- Beech-Nut still sells some of their classic baby foods as well. These products may have natural flavors or other ingredients, such as ascorbic acid. Their products including meat have not been certified as non-GMO.
Things to Remember
Organic and natural do not mean the same thing. Organic foods are natural, but foods with labeled natural are not organic, and not necessarily as wholesome as you might think.
Many of Beech-Nut’s baby food products are organic. Those that are not are typically made with whole fruits and vegetables, with little to no additives or other flavors.
If you are considering Beech-Nut for your baby’s needs, you will probably be okay. Just be sure to check the labels and ingredients before buying anything. You should also pay attention to the numbers on the jar: don’t buy baby food intended for an age older than your child.