Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Baby Loves Booty

Stella's current favorite "food" is a cliche. She is absolutely obsessed with Pirate's Booty. I heard through the mommy grapevine that this was a perfect snack for babies, and soon was spotting ziplock bags full of booty all around the neighborhood. Stella's first form of snack food was a healthy version of cheerios and teddy puffs. Both Daniel and I always found these options to be high in sugar and on the hard side for relatively toothless gums. Pirate's Booty (melt-in-your-mouth puffs), flavored with kale and spinach or aged white cheddar, seemed like the perfect alternative to sweet dry cereal. At first, Stella seemed indifferent to this snack, but her hesitancy to try anything new was soon replaced with a ravenous hunger for all things puffed.

Yesterday, we ran out of Pirate's Booty and had to listen to Stella plead for "Boo-ee! Boo-ee!" ALL day long. We struggled with getting her to eat anything else, as her onetrack mind was on a Pirates' treasure hunt. With incessant whines and Booty calls, she pointed to every location that she thought the snack might be hiding - on top of the fridge, on the counter, in Mommy's purse (smart girl), only to be met with our emphatic cries of "NO BOOTY". Dog may have been her first word, but within the last couple of days, Stella has surpassed her usage frequency of 'dog' with 'booty'.

During a late night shop, I made sure to stock up. However, both my husband and I are now concerned about how to limit Stella's consumption, as we think she would happily replace every meal of sustenance with this fluff. We take responsibilty, as our prior use of booty to calm or pacify her has bordered on bribery. Pirate's Booty's main ingredients are listed as cornmeal and rice (plus natural ingredients for flavor, i.e. cheese or spinach). What nutritional value could possibly be gained by eating this snack? There is a new book by Michael Pollan, called 'The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals', which adresses America's eating habits, by taking a trip through our food chain. One of the main focuses of the book is corn, and it's prevalence in our diet. Here is an exerpt from a review in The Washington Post's Book World/washingtonpost.com :

"Oil underlines Pollan's story about agribusiness, but corn is its focus. American cattle fatten on corn. Corn also feeds poultry, pigs and sheep, even farmed fish. But that's just the beginning. In addition to dairy products from corn-fed cows and eggs from corn-fed chickens, corn starch, corn oil and corn syrup make up key ingredients in prepared foods. High-fructose corn syrup sweetens everything from juice to toothpaste. Even the alcohol in beer is corn-based. Corn is in everything from frozen yogurt to ketchup, from mayonnaise and mustard to hot dogs and bologna, from salad dressings to vitamin pills. "Tell me what you eat," said the French gastronomist Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, "and I will tell you what you are." We're corn."

I haven't read the book yet, and I'm not sure it really answers the question - "Is all this corn bad for us?", but I can't help but be a little more sensitive and aware of what I feed my daughter. I find I care more about her diet than my own. Could I already be polluting such a pure new body? No doubt the answer is yes, and thus a Mother's guilt begins.

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