Little City Kitchen Co. Blog

My stories about local food, fermentation, and formerly organic baby food
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Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Make Your Own Baby Food: Scoop on Starting Solids Blog Series by Little City Kitchen Co.

People always ask why I bother teaching parents how to make their own baby food when I’m selling my own.  My answer is always the same: whether they buy some from me, or make their own, the goal is getting kids to eat more “real” food.  I feel there is a (very big) difference between roasting & pureeing your own sweet potatoes and buying them in a jar that is shelf stable for two years.  I don’t think they qualify as sweet potatoes anymore.  So here’s why you should consider making your own…

Reason #5) Teach baby to like a variety of flavors

Here is your opportunity (your first and one of the best) to expose baby to a variety of flavors that will set the stage for a lifetime of healthy food choices.  Pack as many flavors, spices, and textures you can into the first few months.  Take advantage of this stage, because it starts to diminish the moment they start walking.  For more on this, check out: How to Grow a Broccoli Lover.

Reason #4) Better control what baby eats

There is no better way to know where you food comes from than when you make your own.  (I don’t know who grew those peaches in a jar?). Chose organic food whenever possible (see the Dirty Dozen) and support your local farmers if that’s an option in your area.  We live in a toxic world, so if you have access to good, clean food for your baby, then everyone wins.

Reason #3) Taste varieties that aren’t available on the shelf

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen baby food with roasted kohlrabi, blood oranges or Chioggia beets on the supermarket shelves before.  Whether you’re in the Bay Area or not, hopefully have access to heirloom varieties of foods that you can introduce to baby, and most likely these are not foods available in any pouch or jar.  And if you refer to reason #5, you’ll understand why it’s so critical to introduce them to so many flavors from the beginning.

Reason #2) Teach your kids what food should taste like

There’s something a little unnatural about the baby foods on the shelves.  The flavors are bland, the colors are muted, and the texture is super (super) smooth.  The bright flavors are lost during the high-heat processing method or from sitting on the grocery shelf for extended periods of time.  Set up your own baby food tasting experiment.  Sauté up some carrots and compare them to three different jarred varieties.  Which one tastes more like a real carrot?  This is your chance to teach kids what real food should taste like.

Reason #1) Re-establish a connection to food

I’ve saved the most important reason (from my perspective at least) for last.  As a culture, we’ve lost our connection to food.  Most people think food comes from the grocery store and have no concept of how it came to be there.  Take this opportunity to involve baby in the whole process: have them watch you roast sweet potatoes, smear it all over their face so they can taste the flavor, give them a cooked chunk to squish in their hands, and do anything to involve them in the process of transforming raw ingredients into their food.  Take this time to teach them that real food something to appreciate.

You’ll see from this list that nowhere have I mentioned saving money.  Some companies have taken the position that making your own baby food is less expensive, and while that may be the case with some ingredients, most parents I speak with aren’t drawn to making their own baby food for that reason.

They just want to feed their kids the healthiest food possible, and on some level, they know the answer doesn’t come from a jar.

Interested in reading more?  Check out a Few of My Favorite Posts which has information on best baby food equipment, making your own grain cereals, healthy fats for babies, and more…

Jill Epner is the owner of Little City Kitchen Co. is a Bay Area company making handcrafted, organic, frozen baby food with an International twist.  Follow us on Facebook, or sign up to receive our newsletter with information on starting solids & making your own baby food.

Straddling the Line Between Inspiration and Reality: My Quest for Profitability

I’ve been delaying writing this blog post.  Well, not really delaying, just reluctant to commit to words the biggest struggle I’ve faced throughout this process: building a business that is financially sustainable.

For those new Little City Kitchen readers out there, I went on record saying this would be the most honest food blog you’ve ever read.  This week’s blog is a departure from the usual baby food-related topic and is more of a “day-in-the-life” of a food entrepreneur.

There’s a delicate balance that every entrepreneur needs to find between inspiration and reality.  You need enough inspiration and creativity to stay motivated, but not so much that you spend all day with your head in the clouds.  You need enough reality to stay grounded, but not so much that you become bogged down with everyday issues.  And straddling that line is tricky…

So where does that leave me now?  This leaves me in a precarious position, because <gulp> I haven’t figured out how to make this business profitable…

The Most Common of All Traps

I’ve fallen into the most common trap for new entrepreneurs: trying to do everything yourself in the beginning, getting burnt out in the process, and losing sight of your original purpose as a result.  Totally, and utterly, classic.  How annoying.

I came into this knowing that it takes a while for businesses, especially food businesses, to become profitable.  Becoming profitable (to the point of being able to support myself) is still certainly possible, but it requires a lot of growth, and I’m not sure that I’m motivated enough anymore to fully commit to that.

I’ve spent the last several months in a state of self-reflection trying to identify what I love about the business (and what I do really well), and what I don’t love about the business (and what I don’t do really well).  I’ve done everything from flip charts to spreadsheets, brainstorms to meditations.  My typical “Jill” approach.

The Result

The result: I love teaching and inspiring parents & other food entrepreneurs, building relationships with my customers, developing the recipes, and writing this blog.  Everything I don’t love (and therefore don’t do very well) has to do with manufacturing the baby food, and particularly cooking in large quantities.

In theory, that’s the easiest component to delegate, and while I’m working on some potential solutions for the production, it still doesn’t solve the bigger question I keep asking myself: is this still the right path & direction for me?

How’s that for honest?

I think it’s normal (healthy, in fact) for entrepreneurs to question their direction along the way.  You’re constantly making decisions, evaluating how well those decisions worked, and then comes the ongoing “tweaking”.  However, I’ve reached a point where this goes beyond needing small changes, and I’m faced with the larger question of where to go from here.

Here is what I know: something big has to change.  This could mean I develop a business partnership with someone who would manage the production, or possibly even stop the baby food production all together to focus on teaching.  It may mean that I go back to work in some capacity, or work more on another idea I have to help budding food entrepreneurs.  I’m considering it all.  The idea of stopping production is a tough pill for me to swallow.  Parents tell me all the time how much their kids love the food, and how good they feel about giving it to them.  The idea of disappointing my customers weighs on me constantly.

Part of the reason I write blogs like this is to provide a very real picture of what it’s like to start a new business.  Nobody talks about these things, which is a shame considering these are the realities that every entrepreneur faces along the way.  I wish more people shared this type of information with me when I was getting started!

In spite of all the struggles, and although I would do things differently now based on what I’ve learned throughout this process, this has been one of the best decisions and experiences of my life and one that I’m proud to have gone through.  I’m still actively working on a solution that will both personally & financially work for me, so continue reading about the recent changes in direction for Little City Kitchen Co.

Jill Epner is the owner of Little City Kitchen Co. is a Bay Area company making handcrafted, organic, frozen baby food with an International twist.  Follow us on Facebook, or sign up to receive our newsletter with information on starting solids & making your own baby food.