Parents are always looking for ways to feed their children nutrient-dense foods that are both healthy and satisfying, but you may not be thinking about organic when it comes to snacks. We are here to help with that.
We recently shared a blog called “Why You Should Choose Organic For Your Kids,” in which we talked about the importance of children eating organic. The evidence is clear that kids are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of pesticides and other chemicals found in conventional food. Several factors set children apart, making them more susceptible to harm when exposed to the chemical cocktail found in our food supply and environment.
Once you’ve decided to commit to organic, it may be confusing how to swap out conventional snacks for organic. We’re cutting out the confusion and guiding you through the organic snack selection below.
Americans with the healthiest diets consume 36 percent more snack “meals” a year than the average consumer, according to the study “Snacking in America.” So get ready to fuel up with organic snacks that are high in protein and fiber, and are nutrient-dense, to help you stay full and satisfied until dinner – and prepare to do the same for your kids.
The three most common organic snacks:
- Chips and crunchy snacks
Why you should choose organic
Most of us love a crunchy snack like chips, but the conventional version is usually made with GMO corn and fried in GMO canola, cottonseed, or soy oil. This can make a seemingly healthy snack very unhealthy. Conventional seed oils wreak havoc on the digestive system.
Tortilla chips may also have fewer nutrients than some other snacks. Still, if you pair them with an organic fresh or roasted tomato salsa like Amy’s or one from Que Pasa, you boost the nutrients without adding a lot of empty calories. Our top picks for organic chips are those from Lundberg Family Farms, Late July, and Que Pasa.
In addition to chips, Lundberg Family Farms also has unique snacks like flavored mini and large rice cakes.
Another crunchy organic snack is popcorn. Although popcorn is not genetically engineered, it’s usually cooked in seed oils. Choosing certified organic popcorn prepared in organic oils or even whole kernels made at home the old-fashioned way are a much better choice than conventional.
Seaweed is another delicious and crunchy snack for kids – a perfect swap for conventional snacks and better for those on a grain-free diet, nutrient-rich, and made from the finest ingredients on Earth. It’s vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, and has many health benefits. Our top pick for dried seaweed is SeaSnax. The organic seaweed that goes into SeaSnax is called porphyra, red algae or deep purple laver also referred to as nori in Japan and kim in Korea.
And one of the healthiest snacks you could reach for is a trail mix with a healthy dose of organic nuts and berries. Get some inspiration from Terra Farm here.
Why you should choose organic
The No. 1 reason to choose organic snacks and protein bars is to avoid GMOs – fillers and synthetic ingredients that have been linked to human health problems. The top ingredient in these bars is typically some type of grain. But the whole-grain myth we read so much about in previous decades doesn’t hold up in today’s well-informed marketplace. We now know conventional grains carry some of the most toxic residues because of how these crops are grown.
For instance, on conventional farms, wheat and oats – frequently the primary ingredients in bars – are doused in glyphosate just before harvest as a drying agent. In 2017, glyphosate was also listed by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment as a chemical known to the state to cause cancer. Organic farmers are prohibited from using it or other toxic drying agents for their grain crops. Our top picks for organic bars are Annie’s Homegrown, Orgain Protein bars, Nature’s Path bars, and Truvani’s Only Bars.
Why you should choose organic
Snack foods like crackers often hide unhealthy ingredients behind words like “natural,” “whole wheat” and “fiber rich.” Many crackers in the marketplace contain hidden genetically engineered ingredients aside from common ones like corn. These ingredients include soybean oil, partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil, high fructose corn syrup, modified cornstarch, canola oil, sugar, and maltodextrin.
But when you swap crackers made with conventional grains for organic alternatives, you can be sure you’re avoiding toxic and synthetic pesticides, growth hormones, genetic engineering, artificial colors, artificial flavors, preservatives, and irradiation. Our top picks for organic crackers come from Annie’s Homegrown, Lundberg Family Farms, and Mary’s Organic crackers.
Adding organic fresh food snacks
Aside from the processed snacks that might be convenient, let’s review the importance of adding fresh organic snacks as well. A single portion of fresh food per meal can dramatically improve your health and digestion. Cooking and processing kill off the live enzymes we get in much of our food. Conventional processed foods are depleted of valuable nutrients and packed full of chemicals and sugars. Retrain your taste buds to enjoy fresh organic fruits or vegetables that are great for snacking, such as apples, bananas, or grapes, which can make great after-school snacks.
Organic protein and healthy-fat snacks
Along with healthy local produce, consider adding healthy fats and protein to your snacks. Foods like milk, eggs, and cheese are great sources of vitamin B12, which contributes to the normal functioning of the immune system, as well as to a reduction in tiredness and fatigue. Best of all, they’re easy to make for snack time.
For these sources of fat, we recommend using organic dairy products, which, along with organic meat, contain about 50 percent more omega-3 fatty acids, according to research from 2016 based on data pooled from more than 200 studies. The increase is the result of animals foraging on grasses rich in omega-3s, which then end up in dairy and meats. Research in the U.S. has pointed to similar benefits.
If you’re new to eating organic meat and dairy products, we’ve come up with some options from our brand partners. Get organic dairy products from Stonyfield, Organic Valley, Horizon, and Alden’s and organic eggs from Egg Innovations, Handsome Brook Farms, and Pete & Gerry’s. Applegate carries several organic meat options that are readily available across the U.S., and Patagonia offers wild smoked salmon through its Provisions program.
If you’re choosing a vegan or plant-based diet for your family, we recommend snack alternatives from Forager Project, which feature yummy snack options, such as cashew yogurt and protein shakes. We also recommend plant-based protein shakes from Orgain. There are also many plant-based protein-filled meals from our friends at Lundberg Family Farms.
Need more inspiration? Take a look at our back-to-school organic snack recipe roundup to help you make a healthy informed decision for snack time all year round.