EarthTalk: I want to give my baby fresh, organic
food but I don't have the time to make her special meals.
What options are out there?
-- Marie L., via e-mail
deserve the best possible start in life, so giving them
nutritious food is a must, not only for good health but
also to establish positive eating habits as early as possible.
to Consumers Union (CU), publisher of Consumer Reports magazine,
commercial baby foods, many of which are made up of condensed
fruits and vegetables, can contain high concentrations of
pesticide residues. “A lot of these pesticides are
toxic to the brain,” says Philip Landrigan, a professor
of pediatrics and preventative medicine at Mount Sinai School
of Medicine in New York City. Citing studies that have linked
smaller head circumference and reduced intelligence in babies
to in utero exposure to pesticides consumed by their mothers,
Landrigan says it is best not to gamble when it comes to
you’re not already serving organic baby food, CU urges
making the switch as soon as possible. A 2005 study ordered
by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency measured pesticide
levels in the urine of 23 children in Washington State before
and after a switch to an organic diet. After five straight
days on the diet, pesticide measures fell to undetectable
levels and remained so until the conventional diets resumed.
The study concluded: “An organic diet provides a dramatic
and immediate protective effect” against pesticide
for concerned parents the organic food industry is growing
rapidly, and one result is the availability of a wide selection
of organic baby foods in both natural food stores and mainstream
supermarkets. Some leading jar- and box-based choices come
from Gerber, Earth’s Best, Homemade Baby and others.
And frozen meals from the likes of Happy Baby, Plum Organics,
Bobo Baby and other relative upstarts mix good flavor and
fresh healthy ingredients with convenience. Using the power
of cold temperatures to keep their foods fresh allows these
companies to avoid the use of traditional preservatives.
Baby’s frozen meals come in individual cubes in flavors
like “Baby Dahl and Mama Grain,” an organic
mixture of bananas, black beans and quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah).
Quinoa is a high-protein whole grain that is considered
a complete protein because it contains all eight essential
Organics offers flash-frozen, nutrient-rich organic meals
that come in reusable four-ounce cups in varieties like
“Super Greens” (peas, spinach and green beans)
and “Red Lentil Veggie” (potatoes, carrots,
corn and red lentils). Bobo Baby specializes in organic,
kosher and allergen-free flash-frozen baby meals.
parents inclined toward cooking instead of opening jars
or microwaving, making baby food out of fresh organic ingredients
does not have to be complicated or time-consuming. Fresh
Baby sells cooking kits, cookbooks and food trays to help
parents concoct and serve the freshest and healthiest baby
food possible right from their own kitchens.
Baby; Happy Baby;
Bobo Baby; Plum
EarthTalk: What are the ramifications for shorelines
around the world if predictions about rising sea levels
due to global warming actually come true?
-- James Florino, Palm Beach, FL
Sea level rise,
and the accompanying loss of shoreline, promises to be one
of the most devastating results of global warming. A recent
report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,
a group of leading atmospheric scientists, forecasts a global
sea level rise of between seven and 23 inches by 2100. This
they foresee due to the greenhouse gases we have already
pumped into the atmosphere—even if we start cutting
back now. Such dire but realistic predictions are based
on computer models that factor in the heating and expansion
of the ocean, the melting of polar ice sheets, and storm
surges that can affect tides by a foot or more.
What does this
mean for shorelines around the world? Simply put, existing
shorelines, especially in low-lying areas, will become submerged—a
sea level rise of less than half an inch can cause shoreline
retreat upwards of four feet—forcing inhabitants to
relocate their homes, businesses and ways of life. Perhaps
the most striking example of this type of upheaval is already
underway in Bangladesh, a low-lying country of 140 million
people. According to the World Bank, an international lending
and development agency, sea level rise will likely inundate
as much as 20 percent of the country’s habitable land,
affecting as many as 30 million people already living on
the edge of survival. As much as a third of the country’s
rice crop will be lost, and natural treasures like the Sundarbans
mangrove forest will be reduced to just a memory.
With about a
third of the world’s people living within 60 miles
of a shoreline, and 13 of the world’s 20 largest cities
located on coasts, people are bracing for the worst beyond
Bangladesh as well. Scientists fear that sea level rise,
especially when combined with intense storms, could deliver
a knock-out blow to areas already devastated by 2004’s
Indian Ocean tsunami. China, India and Egypt are also expected
to experience major flooding. One result could be a humanitarian
crisis as millions of so-called “climate refugees”
could seek higher ground, perhaps across national borders
where they are not welcome.
Here in the U.S.,
scientists fear rising sea levels could put a recovered
New Orleans back under water, but this time permanently.
In New York, stronger and more frequent hurricanes, also
thanks to global warming, could combine with rising sea
levels to essentially put most of Manhattan and outlying
areas under water, wreaking untold havoc for millions of
people in the region. And in the San Francisco Bay Area,
according to a report by the Bay Conservation and Development
Commission and summarized in an article in the San Francisco
Chronicle in February 2007, San Francisco’s sewage-treatment
facility on Islais Creek and both San Francisco and Oakland
airports could be under water.
uncertain about the amount of sea level rise to anticipate,
municipal officials are working to get their cities ready
in a number of ways, including “nourishing”
beaches with additional sand and building overlapping layers
of levees and sea walls. But engineers warn that already
strained municipal budgets have no room for the staggering
costs of buttressing entire cities against sea level rise,
so planners will be forced to pick and choose to hopefully
avert disaster. For the rest of us, it might be a good time
to sell that waterfront vacation property that has appreciated
so much in value in recent years.
Panel on Climate Change; World