(The most annoying post ever. It even annoys me.)
This month my baby’s brain started developing little nerve cells. They are forming at a rapid rate especially at the front of his brain, the part that does the most thinking. And his spinal cord and its nerves are developing as well. Sheaths are forming around the spinal column. They act as like insulators on electrical wires and speed up messages as they travel to his brain. Upon realizing this, I immediately began figuring out ways to help this process along. I am, after all, his vitamin dish.
(Taken yesterday of my little guy’s spine.)
Now that I’m almost 6 months pregnant and am constantly thinking about what I ingest, I started to read up on brain food. I read that DHA and omega-3 fatty acids are extremely important for healthy brain development. Granted, there are vitamins one can take stocked full of DHA and omega-3. I take 3 prenatal vitamins every day. They include the DHA, not the omega-3. And even though there are vitamins for omega-3 as well, I don’t like to cut corners especially when there are foods we can eat in lieu of taking a bunch of vitamins.
(I wasn’t sure I wanted to do this, but screw it. I am huge, man. HUGE.)
Sometimes I come up with hypotheses based on little to no scientific evidence. For example, I recently decided that it’s not entirely impossible that all these prenatal vitamins are to blame for the growing number of peanut allergies in children. And it’s not entirely impossible that prescription prenatal vitamins are responsible for birth defects, autism, and asthma. Unlikely, sure, especially since I made it up. But the uncertainty has me seeking more natural ways of feeding Ndugu.
Another thing that I have convinced myself of is that the growing need for prescription prenatal vitamins is, in part, due to the fact that our food (here in the states) has become less and less nutritional over the years due to commercialization. (I am writing about things I know very little about, speaking from the heart once again. I know that I have no scientific evidence or statistics to back these ideas up, but it’s a little window into how I think and these flippant ideas are directly responsible for the decisions I make.)
People eat strawberries even if they aren’t in season and often times the strawberries taste like nothing, (which makes one wonder that since they carry little taste, all the good stuff – the nutritional stuff – is absent as well). Eggs don’t taste the way they used to unless the chickens are grain fed and free range. And eggs aren’t naturally bright white, either. Shrimp today tastes nothing like it did when I was a kid and I don’t remember being able to buy it all year round like I can today. It was more of a treat back then. Now, due to farms and commercialization, you can buy it anywhere and the taste suffers because of it. Tomatoes don’t grow all year round yet you can buy them anytime. (Have you ever compared a fresh tomato with one bought during the off-season? The difference is astounding.) Is it wrong of me to assume that the foods we eat are becoming more and more available, and less and less flavorful and nutritious in the process? Isn’t that why more and more people are buying locally grown, seasonal produce?
Commercial farms currently feed most of America. And because of that we’ve seen E coli show up in spinach – a bacterium that is specifically found on raw meat – because commercial cattle farms lie too close to commercial produce farms, leaving contamination at an all-time high. And instead of trying to remedy the problem at the source, we’re coming up with new ways to kill it after the fact using techniques such as the irradiation (which we already do with some of our meat, the irradiation of produce is currently being discussed by the FDA).
(Image of heirloom tomato from Carrottalk.com. I’m salivating.)
Every year, right before heirloom tomato time, I become giddy with anticipation. And in Mid-May, off the coast of Alaska in a place called Copper River, a few brave salmon begin making a difficult trek in order to spawn and lay their eggs. The journey is so long, they must store extra fat and oils in order to survive. It’s no lie when they tell you that Copper River Salmon is some of the best salmon there is. I believe that it tastes so good because the process is entirely natural. Tobyjoe and I look forward to every year. And the waiting is one of the best parts.
Unfortunately, one of the highest groups of food containing both omega-3 and DHA is fish, and more specifically, salmon. And we all know about fish and pregnancy and the mercury levels in our polluted waters. And we can blame many of those industrial monstrosities I mentioned earlier for the contamination of these foods.
(I don’t swallow the quarter, I just put it there for scale. But if someone told me that quarters made for healthier babies, I’d swallow one every day.)
I’m not trying to sound all doomsday in writing this, and I certainly wouldn’t blame you had you given up on this preachy post long ago. Hell, I’m irritated even writing it, to be honest. I have gone and annoyed myself once again. But I do wish things were a little different here in America. Until I met Tobyjoe, I really didn’t give much thought to what I ate. I just ate whatever seemed easy, with little regard to where it was grown, how it got to me, and what it was going to do once it got inside of me. When it comes to the food I eat I have changed a lot over the past 6 years. I try and eat as much seasonal produce as possible and I try and keep it local. I guess I believe that if folks supported their local communities more, our foods would not only taste better, but we’d gain nutritional benefits as well. Perhaps then pregnant women wouldn’t be forced to take 3 massive prenatal vitamins a day whose aftertaste alone can make my stomach turn. But seriously, what do I know? I’m just a pregnant gal starving for knowledge.
(Look at Tucker’s face in this picture. He’s thinking, “Man, does that ever look gross!” It’s not that bad, I swear.)
Lucky for us pregnant ladies, there are high amounts of omega-3 is flax seeds and walnuts (as well as tofu and soy beans), which are all totally acceptable and safe to eat. So until I am able to fearlessly sink my teeth into a juicy salmon steak again, I’ll continue taking vitamins and chasing them with a glass full of ground flax seeds and water. I want my boy to be smart – smarter than his mama (but probably not smarter than his papa because his papa is pretty f’in smart).