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Organic baby-food Mom Made Scoops’s Heather Stouffer on Babble.com.

In its first year, Mom Made Scoops, a line of frozen, organic baby food, has gone from a farmer’s market launch to the aisles of Whole Foods. Founder Heather Stouffer has perfected the art of gentle cooked, flash-frozen apple, pear, sweet potato and broccoli purees – all taste-tested by her two-year-old son. We recently spoke to her about the fine art of making a half-ton of sweet-potato puree. – Kristin Gangwer 

I’m sure you get this all the time, but have you seen the Diane Keaton movie Baby Boom?

Of course! If I had a dollar for everybody who said, “You’re just like that movie . . .” I saw it in the late ’80s and then rented it again in January of last year, when we were in the depths of business planning. My husband said to me, “Heather, does this make you nervous at all?” And I said, “Are you kidding me? This movie came out in the late ’80s, and there’s still no fresh or fresh frozen version of baby food available.” I never claimed that it was a novel idea I had, but in all that time nobody’s done it.

By what process do you come up with recipes?

I was making all of the food for my son and learning what worked, what didn’t, with him, and then before I knew it I was making it for friends’ kids and getting feedback. Taking that to a significantly larger batch was where my brother, a chef, came in with the professional food experience: what equipment would be needed, cook times, cook temperatures, food safety, heating temperatures, cooling temperatures. Making two sweet potatoes’ worth of puree for your baby and freezing it for two weeks in your own freezer is extremely different from making 1,000 pounds of sweet-potato puree.

Where do you get the produce?

Our products are not seasonal; the same products are offered year-round. But we buy them whenever they’re in season locally. Sweet potatoes, for example, are in season in Virginia for a large part of the year, and we buy our sweet potatoes directly from an organic farmer on the eastern shore of Virginia who’s fabulous. When they’re not in season, we buy through purveyors of organic produce; the same types of purveyors who Whole Foods and natural food stores buy from.

I knew a guy in college who would only eat cheese pizza; he was literally afraid of eating other foods. You’ve said it’s very important to get your child started early on eating healthy.

Children’s palates develop more between the ages of zero and two than they do at any other time. It’s an opportunity to introduce a variety of tastes and textures, spices and different foods. The more children are exposed to, the more likely they are to enjoy a variety of foods for the rest of their life. Everything you read in terms of research says to try something ten or twenty times before you can actually decide you don’t like it. I always tell parents when they try peas for the first time, and the baby just squeezes them out of her mouth, that’s not the baby saying, “I don’t like this, Mommy.” It’s more the baby saying, “Ooh, this is really a different taste, and the more I try this, the more I’m going to become acclimated to this taste.”

Does your son enjoy being a taste tester?

He has been titled our Director of Taste Testing, and he takes his job very seriously. [Laughs] He really does. We spend a lot of time exposing him to a variety of foods, and making sure that we sit down together for dinner every night, which I think is just so important. You’re more likely to be eating an interesting recipe versus just sticking some chicken nuggets in the toaster oven. And kids model after their parents, and want to eat what their parents are eating. My son will only eat something if we’re eating it. There’s no sneaking anything extra onto his plate, an extra grain or something. It’s paid off with my son – knock on wood! He loves asparagus and Indian food, and he also loves cheeseburgers.

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