I was grocery shopping on Sunday and I stopped in the baby food aisle, as usual. Liam is to the age where he will eat what we make for ourselves for dinner, but sometimes the food is not ready yet or too spicy and we give him frozen homemade food or head to the pantry. I don't love giving him the stuff from the jar, but I don't think I'm a horrible mother for spooning out the occasional pre-made food either.
But back to the baby food aisle... I scoped out a ravioli dinner by Gerber. Looked tasty. I flipped it over to read the ingredients and saw a paragraph and lots of words with "ite" and "ate" at the end. I'm definitely not a Whole Foods shopper and I know my child will inevitably consume some of these things, but I just couldn't put it in the cart. I decided to go to the frozen food aisle and buy big people ravioli instead. It probably isn't considered a health food, but at least is needs to be kept refrigerated. That's a step in the right direction, especially for a product that contains a ton of cheese.
I hunted the ravs down (they are by pierogies, by the way) threw a couple of bags in my cart and continued with my shopping, feeling like I'd made a good decision. I got to thinking a few hours later, "Are those big people ravioli any better for him than the Gerber package?" Sure the whole refrigerated thing, but I didn't even look at the ingredients. Even if I did, what would I really be able to discern?
Then a wonderful listener called yesterday and said, "This would be great for the Mom Squad Blog! It's an app that grades our packaged food." Her daughter has an allergy to certain dyes so she has to be very aware of ingredients. She found the free Fooducate app (for Apple & Android) that allows you to scan the bar code of the product and it pops out a grade. You can also search for foods or find out what foods in certain categories score the highest grade. There's much more to it, but you can read for yourself at www.fooducate.com.
I think it's very difficult to find anything in a package today that doesn't contain SOMETHING that would bring a food's grade down. I wish I could say I will vow to not give my children packaged food, but why lie to myself and you? So I don't plan to get carried away and only feed Liam "A+" foods (a banana got an "A"), but if you find that a lunchbox staple gets a "D" or a "C-" you might consider stapling he box shut instead.
Hope this helps you!