Food Sources Overview
It is obvious that food (along with water) is necessary for your child's survival and that eating predominantly a varied but balanced set of healthy food will help them to develop both physically and mentally to their best potential.
All food originates mainly from either animals (including fish) or plants. Some foods are from fungi too like mushrooms. Many countries have different foods than others in their cuisine primarily due to availability, culture and religious beliefs.
Food can either be fresh or can be processed. Fresh food sources (e.g. bananas, natural steak, a carton of pre-washed and cut fresh fruits) are normally better for your child's health rather than processed foods made in a factory (e.g. a pasta sauce or a pre-made ready meal) as long as they have been adequately washed and prepared. Minor forms of processing, especially cleaning and removal of some toxins, is good for your child because it can remove dangerous items from fresh food. But lots of processing, including adding multiple preservatives to increase shelf life for the inevitable long journeys or the mixing in of low quality ingredients, can make food far less healthy too.
Obviously your shopping budget and your local food prices will play a part in what you can feed your child but it is not safe to assume that you will have to shop at budget food shops and compromise significantly on nutrition. Yes of course it takes a bit of effort but it can be done to eat healthily relatively cheaply. See our article here on 'EATING HEALTHILY ON A BUDGET'.
The general options you have for providing food for your child are:
- Grow or rear you own. If you choose to Grow your Own Food then you will learn when certain foods are 'in season' so that can enjoy the freshest of produce. See our article here on 'GROW YOUR OWN FRUIT AND VEGETABLES'.
- Buy it from a market, farm, shop or supermarket. Note : Food can be transported a huge distance for our consumption. The biggest rice producers are China and India, for example, and together they produced 50% of the world's rice in 2011. This food journey obviously has a cost in terms of increased prices and the environmental impact (i.e. its carbon footprint).
Food Safety is extremely important to your child's health no matter what the source of food is. Food Safety encompasses the buying, storing, handling, cooking and re-storing of food to minimise infections and food poisoning. See our article here on 'FOOD SAFETY' .
It is really important for your child's health to give them a good balanced diet of all the major food groups. These are:
- Dairy (e.g. milk, cheese and yoghurt from cows). See our article here on 'MILK AND DAIRY'
- Protein (eggs, meat from animals e.g. pigs, cows or chickens, fish, plants e.g. beans, seeds, nuts etc.). See our article here on 'PROTEIN'.
- Fruits and Vegetables e.g. apples, bananas, carrots, cauliflower. See our article here on 'FIVE A DAY (FRUIT AND VEG)'.
- Grains (mainly carbohydrates) from wheat, barley, oats etc. See our article here on 'GRAINS'.
- Fats and Oils (e.g. Mono-unsaturated fats from oats, seeds and fish). See our article here on 'FATS'.
It is important carers and schools teach children all about food's origins and how it is stored and transported. In this way children can start to understand the advantages and disadvantages of certain foods and make their own choices accordingly when they are old enough.