Finicky moms

Anxious parents are nagging their nannies about what to feed the children, reports the New York Times. Even juice boxes are out. Too much sugar. Chicken nuggets? Not a chance.

Just a few years ago, giving lunch to a 1-year-old was a simple matter of popping open a jar of the Gerber mush du jour. But many parents now feed their children with the precision of chemists and the passion of Alice Waters, and expect sitters to do the same. Fruit juice, once a childhood mainstay, is now considered a sweet slosh of empty calories, and soft drinks are a potential firing offense.

Nannies find this nutritional nitpicking annoying.

“You have to prepare the meal from scratch,” said one older nanny who complained bitterly as she pushed a little boy on a swing set in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, and then asked not to be identified for fear of losing her job. “It’s organic organic all the way, but even the YoBaby yogurt has too much sugar,” she said, referring to Stonyfield Farm’s organic line for babies. “You have to get special organic produce and then prepare each meal.” Nannies, she said, must now be personal chefs while also supervising mischievous toddlers, and all without an increase in pay.

Via Laura of 11D, who’s trying to combine child-raising with sanity.

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  1. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Only an idiot would feed organic produce to a child. When I read of children made sick by “Certified Raw Milk” I want to bring back the ducking stool.

  2. The purveyors of organic this-n-that are simply obeying W.C. Field’s dictum: “It’s morally wrong to allow a sucker to keep his money.”

  3. Hopefully the news that Wal-Mart is starting to carry organic foodstuffs will make this sort of excess less attractive to these mothers.

  4. This is probably what this poor mom had in mind when she fed her 2 year old a spinach smoothy, who then later died from e. coli. Who knew that fresh organic spinach could be deadly. So sad for this family.

  5. Cardinal Fang says:

    The deadly spinach was not marketed as organic. It was sold as conventionally grown spinach. No organic spinach has been implicated in the deaths or illnesses.

  6. Walter E. Wallis says:

    The processor handles both organic and rationally grown vegies, possibly in the same process line. Interesting that, concurently, several “Certified Raw” milk daries have been shut because of illnesses.
    Face it. It is natural for people to die from contaminated food. It is unnatural to process food to eliminate spoilage and toxins, but it is the mark of civilization that we stand above nature and live.

  7. Actually, the contamination of spinach with bacteria that lives in the gut of cattle that have never been in the field with afore mentioned spinach is a hallmark of the bizarre sort of thing that happens in our factory farms. The contaminated spinach in this case made many more people sick throughout the country because of “modern” bulk processing methods.

    The raw milk issue is a separate one – there are certain bacteria that can be found in cattle that cause a variety of nasty diseases in humans which is why pasteurization is a wonderful godsend. That and sterile canning are perhaps two of the most important developments in human history.

    Walter, not all things that are modern are good and not all things organic are bad. Many people who buy organic produce are naive – they don’t realize that there are some very toxic nasty things that can be used as pesticides in organic fields and that broadcast fertilization with cow manure can cause the same kind of bacterial contamination seen in this sad case. Wash those fruits and veggies whatever their label might say.

    That said, I would like to see the outcome of the investigation of this contamination issue because it was localized to one processor and it will be interesting to see if they can figure out what happened and why.

  8. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Irradiation would have saved all of them. Washing would not have helped here.

  9. Cardinal Fang says:

    Don’t confuse raw (unpasteurized) milk with organic milk. Most organic milk sold in the US is pasteurized. There’s a substantial market for organic milk, but evidently not much market for raw milk.

  10. superdestroyer says:


    Irradiation of produce at the dose levels sufficient to inactivate Ecoli is very hard to do. Oxygen cannot be present when food is irradiated. It is relatively easy to irradiate ground beef or grond spices. It is almost impossbiel to do with fresh produce. (You cannot have oxygen present because the gamma rays or x-rays will ionize the oxygen which then reacts with the food that causes spoilage.)

  11. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Very easy to remove oxygen from the process.

  12. Cardinal Fang says:

    Here’s a page from a group evidently generally in favor of food irradiation. It says:

    “Examples of some food changes are: [….]changes in structure of certain foods too fragile to withstand the irradiation, for example, lettuce and other leafy vegetables turn mushy…”

  13. Fresh fruits and vegetables are alive, at least in the sense that their cells are still respirating. Radiation will kill many of those cells. I’d expect “mushy” to be an understatement.

    Radiation is generally OK for meat, milk, etc., because these products are not living.

  14. superdestroyer says:

    The radiation dose for to kill e-coli is about 1 megarad or 10,000 Gy. That level of dose creates a huge amount of ozone. The ozone reacts with the food. The 3.5 megarads used to inactivate anthrax turns paper down and destroys any magnetic material.


    The radiation cannot kill the cells in a fruit or vegetable bucause radiation kills cells that try to divide by mitosis.

  15. Let’s also not forget that the microbial nasties that cause this sort of problem would in some cases have a chance to survive and might develop some additional pathogenic traits as a result of the irradiation. This has been an issue with this type of sterilization for quite some time.

    I like the idea of them doing what they’re doing. Investigating, ramping up testing and tossing out contaminated food. If only we could test for prions in beef. Alas – the slaughterhouses refuse to do it.

  16. Walter E. Wallis says:

    If there were a reliable test for prions, slaughterhouses would leap to the chance. They suffer whenever there is a mad cow incident and would benefit greatly from such a test.
    The Army has a half century of experience of irradiation in Stockton, and so the processes can hardly be considered experimental.

  17. Walter E. Wallis says:

    “Martin said the California spinach outbreak appears to have been caused by contaminated cow manure used by organic producers. “A very low percentage of cattle are always infected by this strain of E. coli. If fresh manure from those cattle is used as fertilizer, there’s an outbreak in the making.” (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)”
    Irradiate the manure.

  18. There is a reliable test for prions, produced by the Bay Area company Bio Rad. One slaughterhouse was going to use it to test all of their beef to put out a “prion free” product. Cattlegrowers refused to send them their animals and eventually, they dropped the idea.