Ever since Charlotte started eating solids, we’ve paid a great deal of attention to what goes into that tiny, growing body. Yes, we are those parents–those hippie-granola troublemakers who refuse to feed our child refined sugars, processed foods, non-organic when possible, and anything with ingredients we can’t pronounce. There is just so much crap out there masquerading as food; while we can, we’d like to keep that stuff out of Charlotte.

Since arriving in China, our food philosophy has taken on a new spin. Of course, we’ve had to adapt to local circumstances: there is no Whole Foods-type superstore nearby selling certified organic everything. Indeed, organic is a serious issue here. Official certification is very difficult to obtain. Those who do manage to are often looked at with suspicion (what did they have to do to get it?); those who don’t are unregulated and often unreliable. And it’s not just local Chinese brands and stores; Walmart was recently in hot water in China when it was discovered that their organic pork was not in fact organic.

But the real issue we face here, when it comes to providing Charlotte with healthy, nutritious food, is the food safety problem.

If you run a Google search for “food safety scandal China”, you might be shocked by what comes up: melamine in infant formula, watermelons that spontaneously combust, fake eggs that look completely real until you try to fry them. It’s enough to make you lose your appetite.

We have friends, long-time expat residents of Beijing, who have managed to deal with the issue by turning a blind eye. We all have to eat after all, and worrying about every little thing you put in your mouth will only make you crazy.

Maybe it’s because we’re still fairly new to Beijing. Or maybe it’s our hardcore food philosophy. But I just can’t shake the worry and suspicion I face every time I go grocery shopping. When I buy food, every item faces scrutiny: what’s really in it? Do I trust the source? And why is it so friggin’ cheap? Or so friggin’ expensive?

Luckily, I’ve found ways to cope that keep me from totally losing it. I buy imported when I can, even though it sometimes costs an absurd amount. I’ve researched the local organic brands available in my supermarket  and found a couple reputable ones that (I hope) I can trust. We avoid eating meat too often, and avoid domestic seafood altogether after my family doctor told me that she refuses to feed Chinese fish to her kids. When we travel out of the country, we gorge ourselves on fish, fruit and dairy.

When it comes to my child, the baby I grew in my belly and laboured for 3 days to birth, I only want the best. And for me, that includes high quality food. Which is why, despite the stress, worry and challenges posed by trying to figure out what we can safely eat, at the end of the day I feel happy knowing that I’ve done my best to ensure that the food I serve Charlotte, that she’s putting into that tiny, growing body, is good, healthy food.

How do you ensure the food you and your family eat is safe?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by mother of one, Taryn. This is her second post for World Moms Blog.

Photo credit to Noodle Bones. This photo has a creative commons attribution licens

Mamasgotwanderlust (China)

You could say that Taryn has travel in her blood: a South African-born Canadian, Taryn has lived in Toronto, Vancouver, and Indiana, and has travelled extensively to Iceland, Israel, Italy, India, and a few places that don't begin with the letter I. After a brief stint as a travel guide writer, where she realized that her dream job was actually a lot of work for not much pay, she gave in to the lure of a steady job (and pay cheque) and settled in Canada's beautiful capital, Ottawa.

In 2010, she embarked on her biggest adventure when her daughter Charlotte was born. A few months later, her hubby J. accepted a work assignment in Russia, and the family moved to Moscow. In 2011, Taryn accepted a work assignment of her own in Beijing, China where she currently lives. While excited about the opportunity to live in the world's biggest up-and-coming country (and to practice herMandarin skills), moving to China has meant leaving J. behind in Russia while he finishes up his work assignment before moving to Beijing this summer.

In the meantime, Taryn juggles career-dom, living in a foreign culture, and being a temporary single-mom to a spunky toddler. Taryn is also the blogger behind Mama's Got Wanderlust, where she writes about her adventures in travelling, parenting, and living abroad.

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