You’ve heard of farm-to-table. What about farm-to-highchair? Actress Jennifer Garner and fellow mom and co-founder Cassandra Curtis are bringing fresh, organic food to busy parents and their little ones.
What was the inspiration and driving force behind Once Upon a Farm?
Cassandra Curtis: I’ve always been passionate about health and nutrition. With my first daughter, Divinaka, I made all her food from scratch, but I quickly realized that finding time to shop, chop, prep and create healthy, tasty food was difficult. At that time, all the baby food options were shelf stable, oftentimes being on a shelf for longer than my baby had been alive. There was nothing in the market that was made with fresh ingredients like the food I was making at home.
How has being mothers yourselves helped bring the vision of Once Upon a Farm to life?
Jennifer Garner: My mom grew up on a farm in Oklahoma, and it’s so much of who she is. She always had a big family garden and cooked fresh. And I took on that same tradition with my own kids. When you’re a mom, you can’t help but want to give your kids the best. But life gets busy and making your own baby food isn’t always a reality. So, I love that Once Upon a Farm can provide parents with meal options for their little ones that are made with fresh ingredients, but without all the hassle or cleanup. We’re making life a little easier for moms and dads.
Do you have any childhood nutrition tips for our first-time parents?
JG: For me, exposing children to fresh foods early on sets them up for success. In our garden, we grow tons of fruits and vegetables and we’re so lucky to live where we live, because we can grow almost anything. We can’t stop planting new things. We also have a beehive, and my kids have their bee suits and like to get involved. It’s like a living science experiment.
CC: I couldn’t agree more. Exposing your kids to living, growing foods and what you feed your kids early on in life, has a significant influence on the foods they will prefer later. I always encourage parents to expose their kids to a variety of options, including all kinds of fruits, veggies, herbs, spices, textures and feeding formats. And don’t give up after the first try. It can take 10-12 times for your baby to accept a new food. Most parents will throw in the towel before that, thinking that their baby just doesn’t like a certain food. Be creative and persistent. It will pay off in the end.
Is there an aspect about what you’re doing that you are particularly proud of?
CC: We are literally creating a paradigm shift in our society when it comes to how we feed our children. And it is such an important one. Up until recently, even fresh pet food was available in over 20,000 retail locations, but only shelf-stable baby food for our little ones? Babies are our future, and we need to value them greatly and set them up for success in every way possible. By offering the first organic, cold-pressed baby food on the market made with real farm-fresh ingredients, we are doing just that.
JG: I’m so proud of the work that my team is doing every day to disrupt a stagnant category and give parents something they are craving for their little ones. And for me, personally, I am over the moon because we are converting the farm where my mom grew up in Locust Grove, Oklahoma, into a working, organic farm where we’ll soon grow ingredients for Once Upon a Farm. We are breaking ground this fall and we should see our first blueberries by next summer.
What’s your favorite flavor out of all your products?
CC: Each blend is delicious, so that’s a tough question for me. My current favorite is Rasp-Pear-y Vanilla Fairy, which is one of our new Toddler (TOT) Blends. It’s made with fresh pears, raspberries, cashews, beets, and a touch of vanilla. It’s great for expanding your toddler’s palate. I also find myself consistently eating our Sun-Shiny Strawberry Patch, one of our most popular Stage 3 (9+ Months) Blends. That one, like all our offerings, is delicious for everyone to enjoy.
What advice do you have for young parents with an entrepreneurial spirit and an innovative idea?
CC: Do it. Whatever idea you have that is driving or inspiring you, make a commitment to yourself and just go for it. Set yourself up for success by making sure you have a lot of support around you because just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes teamwork to create a successful business.
What’s a long-term goal or dream you have for Once Upon a Farm?
JG: My long-term goal is to make healthful and organic food available to all children in the United States. Giving underserved communities access to real foods is something I am personally passionate about, and it’s something that Once Upon a Farm is rallying around. We can’t just talk about feeding the top 10 percent of kids, or 50 percent of kids. My greatest dream for Once Upon a Farm is to offer our organic, cold-pressed baby food made with only fresh ingredients for acceptance by WIC and the USDA’s special supplemental nutrition program. It’s a long-term goal, but something we are all so passionate about working towards as a company.
Anything you’d like to add that we haven’t touched on?
JG: Just that we are so proud and excited to be able to share Once Upon a Farm with moms and dads everywhere and we hope it helps make their lives a little easier. Being a parent is one of the toughest jobs out there and we’re all trying our best.