By Sara Mallicoat
My organic ‘Aha!’ moment was at my baby shower, playing the “Guess the baby food!” game.
We were all struggling to figure out what that reddish, funky smelling jar of baby food was supposed to be. I work in product development, so I’m used trying different things — and I figured it couldn’t be any worse than the time we tried Kala Namak Salt (a salt that is often used in Indian cuisine and tastes and smells a bit like rotten eggs). So, I tried this mystery jar of food, and found it didn’t taste like any fruit I’d ever eaten!
We all guessed strawberry banana — it turned out to be apple and cherry.
That sealed the deal for me; I knew I had to make my soon-to-be-born son’s baby food. In that moment with the mystery jar of baby food, I became passionate about feeding my child organic, healthy food options that would actually taste good (that was my hope anyway!).
There are some good pre-made baby food options out on the market. However, I was already striving to eat organic fruit and vegetables and cut down on processed foods. I was determined to feed my son yummy, wholesome food that was made with love — even though I had no idea how to do it. But I figured I had plenty of time to figure out how to make it happen.
Overcoming the fear of the food processor
As soon as my son Ethan arrived, my whole life changed. Time slipped away with constant feedings, diaper changes, long snuggle sessions and just plain staring at my beautiful baby boy! I blinked and before I knew it, I had to scramble to figure out how to make baby food. I had to dig out that scary appliance that I wasn’t too familiar with: THE FOOD PROCESSOR!
I didn’t know what foods to start him on, but when Ethan got his first cold, the nurses said I could offer him diluted apple juice to help with the coughing. This introduced him to apples and, since no reactions occurred, I figured I would start with applesauce.
It wasn’t quite apple season yet, so I made a trip to the store and bought a few pounds of organic apples. Time is a precious commodity with a little baby at home, so there wasn’t time to peel, chop and simmer the apples to make applesauce. If I was ever going to overcome my fears of the food processor, it would be now. I cored the apples, placed them in a shallow baking dish with a little water and baked them. When they were done, I peeled and coarsely chopped them up. I threw them in the processor and hoped for the best.
To my surprise, it tasted just like the stuff my mother and I used spend all day making after picking apples from our tree. This helped ease my fears, and the food processor and I became best friends.
Making baby food in the summer when I could go to the farmers market and pick up organic or locally grown fruits and vegetables was fairly easy. I would just browse the vendor booths and grab what looked delicious. It became a fun activity — my little family would go on a scavenger hunt every few weeks and find new things for my son to enjoy. It also allowed me to ease into a schedule that gave me time to make food as well as work a full-time job and care for my son.
More than just baby food
Even after my son outgrew “soft” foods, I continued to make them. My husband’s palate is not too versatile — let’s just say he’s not really a fruit and veggie-lover! Since I wanted my son to grow up to eat fruits and veggies, I knew I had to get his daddy to eat them! My new quest was finding ways to sneak fruits and veggies into everything — that’s where the purees in my freezer come in handy. When my son wants muffins, I bake muffins with all organic ingredients, very little sugar and load them with purees of squash, banana, blueberries (sometimes even peas or green beans!). My family is none the wiser and continues to compliment the chef!
Now my son is two and has a younger brother who has just started eating my homemade baby food, which means I have more variety to “spice up” my home-cooked meals. Sometimes my meals are total misses — my husband said I took it too far with cauliflower mac and cheese without noodles. (I thought it was wonderful!)
The more research I do, the more I continue to convert our family to eating organic food, not only for the health benefits (pesticides are more concentrated in much smaller bodies), but also because of the sustainability aspect — I want my kids to have a beautiful world to live in as well. In regard to making baby food, it wasn’t hard once I got used to it, and it’s actually much less expensive. It’s not always easy, but I’m doing the best I can — and that’s enough for me and my family. I just keep on chugging on the organic train!
What was your organic living “Aha!” moment?
About the author: Sara works in Research & Development at Frontier, which means she works with many internal departments to find innovative ways of meeting customer demands. Outside of work, she enjoys turning leftovers into something new, stretching food boundaries with her family, camping and, of course, spending time with her sweet little boys!
Read more organic living “Aha!” moment stories here.