Organic Frozen Baby Food? And Bloggy GiveAways! Interview with Heather Stouffer, Founder of Mom Made Foods, LLC
Many new Moms make a list of all the things they are going to do for their baby. Making home made baby food is often near the top of that list. But a lot of these new Moms find that time gets the best of them, and they simply can’t follow-through on everything they’d like to do. So they end up like yours truly, with an unopened “frozen baby food ice cube tray” collecting dust on top of the fridge, and jars of organic baby food sitting inside the kitchen cabinets.
Now there’s another option. Back when I posted about a sale on organic baby food, I heard from several companies making frozen organic baby food. Frozen organic baby food didn’t exist five years ago when I had my first born, and last year I left the grocery shopping to Darling Husband (DH), so I wasn’t aware of this new option until I heard about it through the OrganicMania community.
Following is an interview with Heather Stouffer, founder of Mom Made(Tm) Foods LLC and another “Organic Mommypreneur” in the spirit of Karen Gurwitz of Mothers & Menus, who was interviewed here as well. OrganicMania was curious about why a mother would choose frozen baby food, and Heather was more than happy to discuss this, along with a host of other interesting issues about organics and feeding a growing baby.
OrganicMania: We all grew up eating jarred baby foods. In fact, the icon of a happy baby was the perfect little “Gerber baby food baby.” What made you decide to look beyond the conventional, beyond jarred baby foods?
Heather Stouffer: When my son Emory, who is now nearly three, was a baby, I found it difficult to find the time each day to prepare home made baby food. I couldn’t find any freshly made, store-bought alternatives that I felt good about feeding him. So I started to think about making my own brand of frozen organic children’s foods. My brother is a professional chef, and he helped and inspired me.
OrganicMania: Why did you choose to focus on frozen baby food? What is it about frozen baby food that is special?
Heather Stouffer: My goal is to produce organic food products for children that are as close to homemade as possible. Freezing is our “preservative.” Research has shown that frozen food can be as healthy or even healthier than fresh food, depending on how long it takes fresh food to get from the farm to your table. It can be quite time intensive to go from the farm to a distributor to the store produce section.
This is in contrast to frozen food, which is picked at peak harvest and then either directly frozen or gently cooked, for example, blanched, to capture peak freshness, and then frozen. Of course, if you’re talking about locally bought produce from a farmer’s market versus frozen, the frozen food might be less fresh, but still pretty close to being on par with fresh food.
But then if you compare it to jarred food, there’s a big difference. The jarring process is very intensive. In order to jar food, you need to cook it at extreme temperatures. You can actually see the color change. The food is cooked to death, and natural nutrients are lost in this process. You see the difference in the color and the loss of texture. Jarred baby food has a “yuck factor” for parents when they feed it to their babies.
I believe babies and young children starting their journey into a lifetime of eating, should be fed the very best from the start – foods that we would welcome tasting along with them.
OrganicMania: So you’re suggesting that frozen baby food tastes better and is more nutritious than jarred baby food?
Heather Stouffer: Yes, it’s sheer delight. We freeze Mom Made products immediately after they are prepared. So it tastes like I’m biting into a fresh Bartlett pear right off the tree, and it tastes like a real sweet potato. It tastes like real food that adults eat, unlike the way jarred baby food tastes.
It sounds simple but after parents taste our food, I often hear them say something like “ooh, yum, it tastes just like a real apple!” It makes me laugh because it’s as though they expected it to taste awful. The great taste of Mom Made Foods means baby has a better experience learning to eat than is typical with jarred foods. It’s better for your baby too.
OrganicMania: You could have chosen to make conventional frozen food, which still would have been a new option for babies and would have provided the taste advantage you describe. Why did you choose to make an organic baby food?
Heather Stouffer: Your baby’s first year is the most important for growth and development. Organic food is best because your baby’s brain, immune system, and hormone system are still developing. Many non-organic fruits and vegetables contain pesticides and toxins, which can affect how our little ones grow and develop. Plus, organic food is better for the environment than conventional food, because farmers use natural methods like crop rotation and composting instead of chemicals.
OrganicMania: How much does Mom Made Foods cost as compared to jarred organic baby food?
Heather Stouffer: The retail price is $3.99 for two 3.5 ounce containers. The price difference with jarred is in the quality and care we put into making each individual serving. We use only fresh ingredients in our products and do not add any fillers, preservatives or junk.
[Editor’s note: This compares to the prices noted in this post of the non-sale price of $1.05 for a jar of Earth’s Best baby food, so this would be $3.99 versus $2.10 for roughly the same quantity of jarred organic baby food].
OrganicMania: Quite by accident, I’m starting an interview series focusing on what I call “Organic Mommypreneurs.” You’re the second interview, with more to come. Why do you think so many Moms are starting organic businesses?
Heather Stouffer: I have found that the organic message hits home with many of us moms once we are pregnant and have children. All of a sudden you’re responsible for this other little person. It’s something Moms are focused on, and so we identify the gaps in the market.
OrganicMania: How do you do it all? What advice do you have about combining motherhood and entrepreneurship?
Heather Stouffer: Focus is critical. At any one time, there are 67 things that need to be done. You need to pick out the top three strategic projects that you are doing and focus on them. Then, at the end of the day, if you didn’t get to a task that impacts one of your strategic projects, you need to ask yourself, what did I get done today? It can be really difficult some days…some days more than others.
Also, I always advise other entrepreneurs to seek out and maximize the existing resources for small businesses. You need to be able to pick up the phone and call people, which can be scary sometimes. But you need to get the word out there about what you are doing and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
OrganicMania: What’s next for Mom Made Foods?
Heather Stouffer: Right now, our products are distributed in the Mid-Atlantic region, but we’re in discussions now with national retailers. We’ll be launching new products and massively expanding our distribution this year.
Update 5/29/08 — Full disclosure: Lynn’s consulting biz, Miller Strategic Marketing, is now working on an assignment for Mom Made Foods. At the time this post was written back in February, there was no relationship between us. Pretty cool, though – we met through OrganicMania and now will be working together!
And leave a comment to win Bloggy Giveaways of a Mom Made Foods rebate coupon for $3.99, a baby spoon, and for those of you who aren’t yet convinced, my two trays of unused baby food/breast milk storage cubes – a $12 value! (I’ll even wipe the dust off the $12 price label!) I have 10 coupons to give away, so leave a comment with your address (no fears, the comments don’t show up till I enable them, so I’ll delete your address before posting your comment to the blog!) . I’ll mail the coupons out to you. The winners will be contacted by email.
Photo Credit Family Picture: Wirken Photo
Copyright 2008 OrganicManiaFiled under Baby, Food, Interviews, Organic Mommypreneurs, Organic Prices, Organics vs. Conventional Foods, Parenting, Pregnancy | Wordpress Comments (17) |