Article Organic Babyfood options
By Haley Church
Every time I go grocery shopping, I find something new I might like to try. Whether it’s due to innovative marketing schemes or an inventive new product, I start counting my pennies to make my impulse purchase. This last weekend I noticed some brightly colored boxes in a small freezer at the end of the baby aisle which read “Nice Cubes.” They were frozen, were they organic? What did they taste like?
For me, this discovery highlighted that baby food is now coming in all shapes, sizes, qualities and quantities these days. How can you tell the difference between what’s going to be best for your baby and what is just a clever marketing ploy? I decided it was time to take a closer look.
The food you give to your child now will help shape their eating habits for the rest of their lives. Ideally it would be a quick and easy process to come home, whip-up dinner for you and your family and make homemade baby puree from scratch all before your favorite TV show came on. This just isn’t the case for today’s working families.
Gerber goes organic
Gerber, by far the largest baby food producer, has come out with an Oregon Tilth Certified Organic baby food product line which includes: cereal, purees, dinners, 100 percent natural juices, and mini fruits. All of which are part of a larger trend to appease today’s more fastidious market. Steve Crider of Gerber foods and president of Ozark Food Processors Association said that their decision to go organic was simply because, “there was a need.” I can only hope that natural baby food will not be simply a trend, and will thrive in today’s market.
On the other end of the scale
It is nice that healthier food options are being offered by the largest baby food company, but if you’re like me, you might like to see what other options are out there. This takes me back to Nice Cubes, a small Tilth certified company based in Portland. The owner, Katie McNamara, prides herself on using only 100 percent natural ingredients from local northwest organic farmers. Katie wanted healthy organic food for her children. She turned this need into an OSU Food Innovation Award winning idea.
My goal is to have every batch taste as fresh as possible. You should be able to taste each individual fruit or vegetable that goes into it. Katie beams. After doing some research on shelf stability, she came up with the conclusion that preserving the food in a frozen form was the best option because it was the only way I would maintain the taste of the food and keep the nutrients in and it keeps that homemade quality that everyone should have the chance to experience no matter how busy they or their parents are.
Frozen baby food is not new to other parts of the world. Australia and the U.K. have been using it for the past several years, and it is increasingly becoming “the norm” over there, so it’s amazing to me that the U.S. hadn’t started taking interest until around 2005. There are only a handful of U.S. based frozen baby food companies currently in operation based out of Oregon, California and New York.
Important considerations are the flavor, the amount of nutrients your baby is getting out of each serving, where the organic fruits and vegetables come from, and how the product is processed.
The selection of frozen purees offered by Nice Cubes is in response to a survey owner Katie sent to approximately 150 local parents and a focus group of 60 moms and babies. The result: Bandango (banana and mango), Gentle Lentils, Perfect Pear, Sweet Potato Pie and Sassy Squash.
Northwest shoppers prefer to buy fruits and vegetables from local certified organic farmers, rather than some unknown sources many non-local companies use. I personally prefer a smaller batch preparation. Large batches can sometimes have a duller flavor and a more generic taste. The best way to test that is to grab a spoon and sample it for yourself, I’m sure your baby won’t mind if you explain that you’re just conducting a simple taste test and this won’t be a regular occurrence.
You can look at the nutrition content on the side of the container. In the end, only you and your baby can determine what’s best for both of you.
Maybe all of us could use a quick look at an apple tree for a glimpse of reality, if not just for inspiration.
"I think that I shall never see
Sometimes the best things in life are the simplest; simple to see, simple to grow, and simply delicious.
With a background in healthcare, personal fitness, law, finance and radio, Haley E. Church has found her niche in writing non-fiction short stories.