The Stuff They Put In Baby Food

DAREN the Lion at the DARE event. Photo courtesy County of Kauaʻi

For all the loving mommies and daddies out there who only want the best for their keiki, I thought I’d use the column this week to share an anecdote that comes from the first months of motherhood. When our son was a 2-week-old, we had to admit him into the hospital. We couldn’t get him to hold anything down, and one of the pediatricians told us that he likely had a soy and dairy allergy. Since I was nursing at the time, she recommended that until soy and dairy were out of my system, that we give him hypo-allergenic formula.

I wasn’t a fan of the idea at all, but we were so grateful to have something to feed our inconsolable baby.

While I remain grateful that we had options, I’ve since learned that some formulas are fortified with DHA/ARA, synthetically formed versions of the omega-3 fatty acids that are essential to brain development. DHA/ARA is extracted with the use of hexane, a petroleum-based volatile synthetic solvent, from microalgae. Worse, the corn syrup that’s used to grow the microalgae is usually GMO, according to an email from Lynn M. Buske, administrative coordinator and research associate with the Cornucopia Institute. Even baby food containing DHA is developed through classical mutagenesis, a method inducing mutations by exposure to harsh chemicals or radiation to develop life forms not found in nature.

When I first learned of this my reaction was, “Fine, I’ll just buy organic.” But it isn’t quite that simple. Hexane extraction for DHA/ARA is still allowed in organic products, including baby food and formula. The good news is the National Organic Standards Board recently re-evaluated the use of DHA/ARA and determined hexane extraction is not acceptable to the USDA organic standard. The less-than-good news is it may take between a year and 18 months for the ruling to affect what we buy on grocery shelves. In the meantime, organic products using hexane-extracted DHA remain acceptable to the USDA organic standards, according to Julie Campbell, customer information specialist for Whole Foods…

In lighter news, congratulations to Lawrence Dolan, who won the MidWeek Kaua’i promotion contest and a trip for two to Las Vegas! I don’t know of any other publication on-island giving away hotel accommodations, roundtrip airfare and meals, so I’ve got to say Lawrence is a lucky man. And apparently, Vegas is just the ticket – when I was trying to schedule a time to meet with him for a photo, it turned out he was off-island, in Vegas. Here’s to a safe return back to your getaway locale of choice! …

Congratulations also to the 700 fifth-grade students who attended this year’s Drug Awareness Resistance Education (DARE) Day celebration at Kaua’i War Memorial Convention Hall earlier this month. The program focuses on the facts of drugs and alcohol use to encourage children to make better life choices and stand up against negative pressures. Hana hou, mascot DAREN the lion! …

It was another chickenskin moment for me when Leadership Kaua’i program director Sherri Puni Patrick took the stage May 5 at the 2012 Ho’okanaka Awards. The event celebrated exceptional leaders in our community. Following the hula she always does with such grace, Patrick opened up the ceremony with an oli that quieted everyone with the kind of appreciation that rivaled the huge “supermoon” that hung in the sky that night. Leadership Kaua’i has been doing some awe-inspiring things across the board this year, including meeting the Dalai Lama when he was in Honolulu. The nonprofit’s plans to expand its Pi’ina Hoku program into local high schools seems to align perfectly with the Dalai Lama’s message to create a 21st century of peace that starts with youths. Congratulations to

Ian Versammy, Imaikalani Aiu, Melinda Montgomery, Puna Kalama Dawson and Thomas Nizo, and youths Christina-Maile Pico, Hallie Hahea Onalani Christobal, John Medeiros, Kyle Fleming and Travis Navarro, Brianne Nagamine, Bryson Cayaban, Moani Estrella Genegabuas and Travis Navarro

The Kaua’i Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Youth Council will present a Youth Health and Safety Conference from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, June 8, at the Courtyard Kaua’i at Coconut Beach in Kapa’a. The conference, which has been emphatically described as “for everyone” (parents, friends, educators, service providers, and, of course, youths), will feature discussions on sexual orientation, gender identity, civil rights, hate crimes, bullying, Hawaiian culture and how it historically relates to LGBT people, developing healthy, inclusive and safe environments for LGBT youths, The keynote speaker at the event will be Justice Sabrina McKenna, and presenters include County Councilman Kipukai Kuali’i, Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho Jr., Prosecuting Attorney Shaylene IseriCarvalho and Kaua’i Superintendent Bill Arakaki. Cost is $20, but scholarships are available. To register, go to, or call 246-9577 …

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