Shopping Around: Is organic baby food better than jarred purees?
Several companies now offer organic baby food that comes chilled or frozen, which they say retains more vitamins and minerals. But at around double the price of typical jarred organic foods, nutrition experts say the new products may not be worth the premium.The market for organic baby food has surged in recent years, with Americans buying $90.5 million worth of organic baby food from supermarkets in 2005, up 17 percent from 2004, according to market-research firm ACNielsen. Of course, organic products still make up just a sliver of the $3.1 billion baby food market.The latest baby fare ranges from simple dishes like pureed organic sweet potatoes to chunkier mixes like winter vegetables and rice. We put them to the adult taste-test, and found the new lines tasted more flavorful than purees from a jar. Even grown-ups who are usually squeamish about mashed-up entrees found the texture and vibrant colors of the new products appealing.Despite the good flavors, Judith Brown, an author of several college text books on nutrition, says fresh or frozen products have only slightly more nutrients than jarred baby food. And Dr. Jatinder Bhatia, a pediatrician and member of The American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition says there’s no data that says organic food is healthier for children.Here are some of the latest organic baby foods that don’t come from a jar: Company: Evie’s Organic EdiblesPrice: $2.25 – $3.49 for 4.5 ouncesWeb site: http://www.eviesorganicedibles.comComments: Products use flavorful ingredients like garlic and ginger. As a result, we found the lentils and winter vegetables something adults would want, too. Company: PlumOrganicsPrice: $2.89 to $3.49 for two 4-ounce containers.Web site: http://www.plumorganics.comComments: Sells mixed products like Super Greens – peas, spinach and green beans – for even the youngest eaters. We found the chicken whole grain pasta bland, but the banana peach rice pudding good enough for a grown-up’s desert. Company: Homemade BabyPrice: $1.69 to $1.99 for four ouncesWeb site: http://www.homemadebaby.comComments: Products like Yummy Yammies (yams, lentils and other vegetables) are prepared by a chef trained at Le Cordon Bleu; we found the plain sweet potatoes slightly bitter but the peas tasted sweet and fresh. Company: Little Potatoes Baby FoodPrice: $1.69 to $1.79 for four ouncesWeb site: http://www.littlepotatoesbabyfood.comComments: The food comes from Colorado organic farmers; the colors of the pureed vegetables were vibrant and the sweet potato was so flavorful it seemed like sugar was added. (It wasn’t)