I was at the Westport Farmers’ Market when I was offered a sample of bright orange baby food and I’ll admit that I did not eagerly reach for that puree. But when I learned that those sweet, bright carrots came from an organic farm less than an hour away, I wanted to know more. Local, seasonal, organic jarred baby food is the brainchild of Westporter, Marna Altman, founder and creative behind Garden Fresh Baby, and I was intrigued.
Remembering how much work it was to make my own baby food, I was more than a bit curious about pureed pluots, nectarines and beets. So, of course, I asked her to tell me more.
Kosher Like Me: Can you tell me some basics about Garden Fresh Baby food?
Marna Altman: We create a range of organic, seasonal foods for babies, beginning with purees called SEEDS. These are easily digested fruits and vegetables that have been deemed safe for those beginning at 4 months.
Our SPROUTS are thicker purees that may combine up to three fruits or vegetables together. Next comes, BUDS, an array of toddler meals including quinoa mac and cheese, vegetable pancakes, and pizzas, all of which are ready to be heated in your toaster oven.
KLM: How does your product differ from other jarred baby food?
MA: Our product differs in a few key ways. We are organic and local. Our purees and other products are all made in small batches. We add nothing to our purees except a little water. This means that there are no fillers, additives, or preservatives. Our baby food is just more delicious since all of the produce is picked in season, at the peak of freshness. And the produce does not spend days sitting on trucks getting across the country.
KLM: Seasonal sounds great but what happens when a babe loves a particular food and it cycles out of season?
MA: The purees can last 3 months frozen so I recommend stocking up.
KLM: What are some examples of foods that are not available from other companies?
MA: We make our purees with whatever is farm fresh so we do have some unusual flavors. We have had turnip, parsnip, beets, plum, pluot and nectarine. Pluots were greeted with surprise since some adults have never even heard of it.
KLM: What are some of the favorites in each category?
MA: Our best sellers for purees have been yellow squash and pluot. For teething biscuits: peach or zucchini. For biscotti: chocolate zucchini or anything gluten free. For hot cereals: quinoa oatmeal strawberry. For toddler meals our quinoa mac and cheese with carrots and yellow squash blended into the sauce or our veggie pancakes with shredded yam, potato, onion, carrot, zucchini, and corn. For toddler snacks: our granola bars.
KLM: This sounds like a huge amount of work hours, shopping at local farms, developing product, cooking, promoting and selling. How many people are working in your production kitchen? What about the back end?
MA: I have one employee. Rachel Keleher, a chef and culinary arts teacher from Fairfield High School. We are a great team in the kitchen . She gets me and the whole concept. My husband was very hands on at the beginning but he has taken a more backseat/advisory role.
KLM: Which CT. farms do you source from?
MA: My go- to farm is Urban Oaks in New Britain, CT. They have greenhouses so their season is extended, which helps greatly with my production. Their mission, to provide organic, farm fresh produce to their urban neighborhood, resonates with me.
KLM: I see that you have a range of cereals and grains for all stages. What’s special about these?
MA: Our cereals are finely ground grains mixed with organic freeze dried fruit. They can be made just like an instant oatmeal with hot liquid. We currently have oatmeal, quinoa oatmeal blend, brown rice, 10 grain, oat bran, and we will have buckwheat shortly. They are delicious and not just for babies.
KLM: What about your teething biscuits and biscotti for adults?
MA: Our Babiscotti and Mommiscotti are baked from the same delicious recipe but the Babiscotti are without chocolate and spices. We recommend that they are served frozen for little teethers. They are low in sugar and fat because we sweeten with fresh produce. Current flavors include gluten free apple cinnamon, gluten free banana and vegan apple cinnamon.
KLM: How do I know that these jarred goods are safe for baby? What about kosher and vegan certs?
MA: The chef and I both have safe food handling certification. And my company and my kitchen have both been evaluated and approved by the Department of Consumer Protection in CT. We are not kosher but one day I would like to be. We have plenty of vegan options.
KLM: What types of toddler meals are available?
MA: We have quinoa mac and cheese, veggie pancakes, farmers pizza, whole wheat pancakes and coming soon rainbow rice, ravioli, veggie lasagna, frittatas, and much more!
Good to know:
Garden Fresh Baby donates unused food to the Bridgeport Rescue Mission Guest House for Women and Children.
Learn more about Garden Fresh Baby’s schedule at CT’s farmers’ markets by clicking here.
Garden Fresh Baby ships nation-wide. First time customers are being offered free local delivery or may have their shipping fees waived by mentioning Kosher Like Me.
Order online by clicking here.