Moms turn dried fruit into organic baby food empire

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Have you ever tasted jarred baby food? It’s not that good. So why give it to your little one?

This was the dilemma new mom Caroline Freedman faced when she was pregnant with her first child. She couldn’t believe that nothing had changed since she was a baby, and moms everywhere were still feeding their new babies with the potty stuff. Sure, some moms opted to make their own baby food, but there was still no other option for ready-made foods. Often discussing the dilemma with her friend, Lauren McCullough, during their after-work cocktail hour conversations (Freedman worked in mergers and acquisitions at Dell, McCullough as a culinary arts teacher in Texas School for the Deaf), the two decided to turn the idea into a reality.

Freedman knew that drying fruits and vegetables, as opposed to cooking them, kept them healthier, trapping essential phytochemicals (plant chemicals that help fight disease) and nutrients. “When you don’t expose food to heat,” McCullough explained on a recent phone call with MNN, “you retain the freshness and flavor of food more.” They took this concept to Freedman’s apartment, where they tried to dehydrate a sweet potato in Freedman’s oven. Needless to say, the experience was a half-hearted success. “We just expected him to magically dehydrate to a powder,” McCullough recalls with a laugh. “What we got was basically a sweet potato roll.” Delicious, yes, but not what they wanted.

With that, Freedman and McCullough turned to the experts – after doing extensive research, they enlisted the help of a few organic farms across the country that specialize in drying produce and got to work. And that’s how NurturMe was born.

Today, NurturMe’s range of dried baby foods includes delicious organic first-time fruits and vegetables like succulent squash and crispy apple to NurturMeals blends like carrots, raisins and sweet potato for more babies. aged. Quinoa is all the rage with foodies these days, thanks to its high protein punch in the form of a delicious carbohydrate. One of NurturMe’s products that is flying off the shelves is the one they launched six months ago – their quinoa cereal – a healthier alternative to rice cereal for babies who are just starting to eat foods. solid. NurturMe has also just launched a line of toddler snacks called Yum-A-Roos – dried fruit snacks with innovative blends like Happy Harvest (peas, sweet corn and apple) and Tropical Twist (banana, mango and pineapple). .

Co-founders Freedman and McCullough even assured NurturMe’s packaging would be environmentally friendly – it’s produced with wind power and made from recyclable materials. And the thinner packaging (each serving comes in a handy, lightweight pouch) is appealing to moms whose diaper bags are already bloated with baby gear. Powdered singles weigh much less than traditional baby food and take up much less space. All you need to prepare dried fruits and vegetables is a little water – more for babies who are just starting to eat solid foods, and less for babies who are ready for a thicker texture.

Another peculiarity of NurturMe singles? “You can actually mix our fruit and veg powder with breast milk or formula,” says McCullough, packing them with even more nutrients. And another plus: For moms who are struggling to feed their mac and cheese loving toddler their veggies, you can mix the powder into your kids’ favorite meals to give them a nutritional boost.

McCullough and Freedman credit their Austin community mentors for helping them get off the ground. “Austin is a growing mecca of natural products,” says McCullough. “There were so many nice people who were ready to support us and help us, telling us it was possible.” Indeed, Whole Foods started in Austin and the company was one of the first to give McCullough and Freedman a chance to sell their products. Today, you can find NurturMe products at retailers like Whole Foods, Target, and Babies R Us, and online at Amazon and Diapers.com.

Thanks to the ingenuity and persistence of Freedman and McCullough, NurturMe quickly went from a failed sweet potato experiment to an award-winning line of organic baby foods, generating a buzz across the country, while also giving moms and babies a great reason to feel good about feeding time.


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