Every 16 seconds in America, another person opens a disgusting bottle of juice. It’s been a problem for at least the last 20 years. And it has accelerated in the last decade, during which bottled juice has become a hot trend.
It’s a legal requirement that juice be pasteurized if it is to be sold in supermarkets. It’s similar to the law pertaining to milk. But juice is pasteurized using different methods.
The major benefit of juice being pasteurized is that it becomes shelf stable. It then lasts for a long time. But the nutrients are diminished significantly when the juice is pasteurized because that process alters the juices’ chemistry. You would logically expect to pay considerably less for pasteurized juices with less nutritional value than that of fresh juices. But that’s not the case—they cost less than fresh juices, but not that much less.
The worst thing about pasteurized juice is that it has a very foul taste. This is so because even with pasteurization you cannot keep the quality of the taste from diminishing as the juice gets older.
Try a taste test. Compare the taste of a bottled juice from a supermarket with a fresh juice from goodsugar. You will find that freshly-made, freshly-consumed juice is unquestionably more vibrant and very delicious.
We human beings eat with our eyes, noses, or mouths, followed by our memories.
The foods we are attracted to are completely unique to us. We might love avocado at age one and drink greens juices right away. Or we might hate things that are spicy or too firm.
Why did we develop this way?
The number of teeth that grow in when we are very young determines what types of foods our digestive system is ready to consume. If a child does not have any teeth, it’s digestive system might not be ready to eat more complicated foods to break down, even if another child of about the same age seems to be doing fine with the foods in question. Just look at the teeth first to determine what level of complexity of food a child can handle.
When we are young we are repelled or attracted to food colors and textures (or a lack of them). A child's taste buds are formed in the womb and are influenced by the tastes in mother’s milk. But a child’s unique tastes will develop after they’re born.
Many of our children’s likes or dislikes have to do with what they’re exposed to. And as they get older and as things start to occur in their emotional world, they will have tastes for foods that make them feel better when they eat them.
The things that make a child feel better will be different from one child to the next. Some children will like to feel full, others might not. Some children might like the taste of dairy in their mashed potatoes, and others won’t.
Children will also learn their eating behavior patterns by watching their caretakers (e.g., their parents). So children can develop negative addictive eating patterns at a very early age.
For example, if a child is given too much protein it might have cravings for it. The child might get to the point of becoming extremely cranky and needing to eat more often because of the ups and downs of body chemistry. If a child is given lots of processed food, he or she will easily become addicted and crave that as well. Mood swings from high to low will be greatly influenced not only by what’s happening in their emotional world but by what’s happening to their chemistry.
Green juices may not appeal to children at first because they might taste bitter, especially if they’re at room temperature. There are complex, subtle nuances to the flavors of juice. Some might say that juices are an acquired taste. The bitterness sometimes needs to be offset by sweetness, but not always.
If a juice is fresh and bright, not pasteurized and not sitting in a bottle for a long time, it will likely be delicious. And a good way to start children off with fresh green juices is to start them off with fruit juices and add a very little bit of green to them to get them used to the subtle taste. But some kids might take to green juices right away.
It’s generally safe to give a child fresh juice starting at around 12 months of age. But depending on how much juice the parent drinks, it might be feasible to start them out earlier.
The benefits of juices for children are similar to the benefits grown-ups receive. They get a lot of healthy produce in juice with a lot of nutrients such as vitamins and minerals, plus a great many other beneficial compounds.
Generally, a child up to nine months of age will get everything it needs from mother’s milk before needing to move on to solid food. The best foods for a child to start off on are fruits. Around age nine months to 12 months, you can introduce a child to things such as avocados.
It’s important to introduce one type of produce at a time, though. And of course you should ensure that everything is fresh and organic. You may want to purée fruit at first if you have to. Fruits such as apple, pear, and banana are good choices initially.
Since a child’s digestive system is not yet fully formed, it will be more sensitive than that of a grown-up. For that reason, fully ripe food is best for children; when fruit ripens, the starches mature to the perfect point so that they’re easy to digest. A child will have stomach aches from eating things such as unripened bananas or unripened avocados.
Children should eat a wide range of extremely ripe fruits, such as peaches, nectarines, and cherries. This will help them experience the fundamental staples of the adult diet.
Children can begin eating citrus fruits after 12 months when their digestive systems are stronger. This is the case because citrus fruits have a lower pH balance and they may sting or burn. Even though citrus fruit may seem more acidic, when it mixes with the digestive alkaloids it converts easily into neutral salts which are very alkalizing to the body.
Parents are likely to be concerned about protein, especially when it comes from a plant-only source. Broccoli is high in protein. It might be difficult for a child to break down, so cooking broccoli by steaming it is recommended. You can mix broccoli with things like apple or pear to make it more appetizing to a young child because of the sweetness. Or if the mother is still producing breast milk, she could mix a little of it in with cooked vegetables. In addition to broccoli, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, spinach, and cauliflower are great sources of minerals and calories.
Parents are understandably very concerned that their children get enough protein to grow flesh matter such as muscle and bone. The issue is not whether or not they are eating animal protein—the issue is whether or not they’re getting enough calories from a diverse enough range of produce types.
Parents can get very paranoid about feeding their children. Because it’s a cultural norm and something perpetuated within the scientific community, they believe that their children need to drink cow’s milk in order to have calcium and proteins for growth. What people don’t understand is that the protein and the casein that is present in cow’s milk is inflammatory and irritating to a child.
If a person must rely on the milk of another animal, that animal should be closer to the human mother’s size, like a goat or a sheep. And the milk should be unpasteurized so that it contains more of the compounds that can be of benefit to the child.
The danger in an animal’s milk being unpasteurized is associated with the conditions in which the animal lives. If an animal lives in its own fecal material, then the risk of pathogenic material being in the milk is much higher. The problem arises not just from being on a dirty farm; transportation from the farm to the doorstep of your home is also an issue.
You can go directly to a farm and see if their standards regarding cleanliness and other conditions are high. If you determine that you’re taking the animal's milk directly from the glass jar to the mouth, generally this condition is as close as possible to being the natural path to the food source we should be consuming as infants. Admittedly it might not be easy to determine such things, especially if you live in a city.
Parents who are not fully vegan might consider cooked eggs as a protein source. It’s likely better than dairy in all ways. Eggs are best if boiled rather than fried.
Children can begin eating grains early. Quinoa (actually a seed rather than a grain) is extremely easy to digest and it’s very unlikely that a child would be allergic to it.
Brown rice is tasty and rich in nutrients. It should be cooked for a long time so that it becomes mushy and perhaps cooked even longer.
Oatmeal is really delicious for children and is also very stimulating (in a positive way). Oats are very energizing.
When children become toddlers we can give them pastas. But it’s very important that we ensure that those pastas are not coming from white flour. The problem with giving children pasta from white flour is that the taste and the texture might be something that they may become attached to. If so, then it may be difficult to give them healthier pastas made from quinoa, brown rice, hemp, or kamut.
There’s no reason to keep a child away from gluten unless they have a gluten intolerance. Remember gluten is just another form of protein. A person with celiac disease obviously must avoid it. Gluten is present in many processed foods, and it bears continuously repeating that avoiding processed foods is a must. But if a person doesn’t have a gluten intolerance there are plenty of foods that are extremely healthy for both children and adults to consume.
It’s very important when you’re trying to help your children figure out what they want to eat that you not make them feel as if they’re prisoners of your grown-up diet. A child should not feel so restricted that food becomes an anxiety.
What are the difficulties in raising a child when the two parents have a totally different point of view regarding diet?
The point of view that the child should be exposed to everything can cause conflict if one parent is adamant about wanting to keep a child’s diet pure and the other is not. For example, one parent may be a vegan who never eats processed food while the other parent may have a more liberal diet. That obviously could cause some tension. For that reason, a couple’s decisions about the diets of their children should be worked out even before their children are born.
Separated parents are very common in this day and age. A child may spend time in two different households in which two different eating patterns are practiced. Of course it’s best if the eating patterns are similar and agreed upon.
Individuals and households should have a philosophy about food in general, not about just specific foods that are eaten. In a given household one parent may philosophically believe that food is designed to nourish the body and make us mentally healthy and physically strong. The other parent may not have the same philosophy. If one believes very passionately that processed food will cause significant health problems, it’s probably best to honor that parent’s wishes about abstinence from processed food. The one caution is that there should not be too much emphasis put on control.
What about birthday parties, though?
One way to deal with birthday parties is to bring your children and explain to them that we don’t eat the type of food the children eat at birthday parties because we don’t think that it’s the best food to eat. Perhaps you’re taking them to a pizza party that will include an ice cream cake. If so, you might bring your own vegan pizza, bring your own vegan cupcakes or cake, let your children celebrate, and let them eat as much as they want to.
Your child should not feel deprived. You can’t keep your child away from birthday parties unless they’re growing up in a commune where everyone eats the same foods.
At a certain point you may have to surrender if you are raising your child in two different households. They’ll be too many differences to fight over and it will create conflict. The child will sense the conflict and that would likely have an even worse effect on his or her body chemistry than a bad diet would. In such a case, you can only do your best to convey your desires to the other parent. Hopefully over time the wishes for a healthier diet will prevail.
You should also consider that if you’re the parent desiring that better diet should be family policy that you should lead by example. If your children have close connections with you and they see you eating in a healthy manner, it’s likely that someday they will follow in your path.