It’s April. The flowers are budding (a bit early this year due to the mild winter), the grass is turning green (and sprouting with weeds) and I’m looking forward to the start of the fresh vegetables I’ll be getting from the local farm project in a couple of months. April is Earth month, a time to get and feel grounded.
As a food allergy mom, I think about many of the same things as other parents when choosing foods to feed my family – sustainability, locally grown foods, and healthy foods. In my upcoming book, Learning to Bake Allergen-Free, I write about “redefining healthy eating.” Food allergy parents can’t always rely on standard definitions, we need to re-define healthy eating based on what is nutritious and safe for our families.
I’m a big fan of whole foods, foods grown sustainably, and grown without pesticides. Fruits, vegetables, and nuts all fit this category, but for many food allergy families, nuts are not an option. Seeds (including sunflower, hemp, and pumpkin seeds) are a great alternative, especially in trail mixes or when baking.
I like to look for locally grown foods – in addition to supporting local farmers, buying local brings you the freshest food without adding to the carbon footprint. A community supported agriculture project (CSA) is a great way to eat local foods. Check Local Harvest to find a CSA near you.
When foods are processed, look for food with the fewest ingredients. The fewer the ingredients, the easier it is to avoid food allergens and minimizes the risk of contamination. And always read the detailed food ingredients list to be sure!
Avoid the open bins. While the open bins avoid the need for extra packaging – and are generally considered a “greener” choice, open bins (and foods packaged at the point of sale) are simply not an option for food allergy families. It’s impossible to ensure that the scoop used to fill the seed bin wasn’t also used to fill the nut bin. Always opt for foods that have been packaged by the manufacturer.
As you think about food during this Earth month, what will you be thinking about as you choose foods for your own family?