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Whether you're a first time parent or an old pro who just celebrated the birth of your fourth child, the desire to make sure your kids are getting the best of everything never goes away. You wouldn't compromise on their education, their health, their safety, right? That's why buying natural and organic baby food should be a no-brainer. Even though sales of organic baby food are rising, it's still not as common as it should be. Click through the jump to find seven companies that are changing that by taking pureed peas and carrots to a whole new level.
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Most of the foods you'll find in the frozen aisle are not exactly healthy—think frozen pizza, ice cream, enchiladas, and sodium-laden weight loss meals—but Plum Organics' frozen baby food bucks that trend. Made entirely of organic ingredients, packaged in recyclable bisphenol A-free cups, and then flash-frozen to preserve color and taste (without, well, preservatives), treats like sweet potatoes, pasta with veggies and chicken, banana peach rice pudding, and black bean tomato ragout will get your child's palate off to a healthy—and adventurous—start.
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Canadian kids' food company Earth's Best makes organic products for all ages, from infant formula to Sesame Street-branded cereal, macaroni and cheese, and cookies. The baby foods are traditional—peas, carrots, turkey dinner, chicken and stars—but everything the brand turns out is made from pesticide-free ingredients without salt, refined sugar, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. The foods are produced seasonally on farms that practice crop rotation and use natural fertilizers. Of course, all that will matter to your young one is that Elmo's on the box.
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Homemade Baby co-founders Matt and Theresa Kiene knew they were onto something when Theresa started serving her homemade baby food at dinner parties—and even the grown-up guests went back for seconds. Now the certified-organic meals from Homemade Baby come in three stages—So Smooth, Good Mushy, and Kinda Chunky—to match your child's eating habits and in flavors like squapples (that's a Good Mushy combination of roasted squash and apples) and baby Tex Mex (a Kinda Chunky mixture of black beans, rice, and corn). The meals are kosher, gluten-free, and don't contain genetically modified ingredients, while the packaging is made of microwave-safe polypropylene—which is recyclable and dishwasher-safe (so it's reusable, too).
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The chefs behind Yummy Spoonfuls organic baby foods—which are also made without salt, dairy, or gluten—make their products every week in small batches, so the preservatives that go into jarred brands aren't necessary, and they deliver weekly so you know it's always fresh. Plus, the adult-approved flavor combinations go beyond plain peas and carrots: Think blueberry-millet, apricot and brown rice, adzuki beans with sweet potato porridge, and pureed papaya.
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Few brands say "baby" as well as Gerber—they've been an industry standard for more then two generations—and now the company offers organic versions of some of its most popular products. The purees, cereals, and juices are widely available and produced under USDA certified-organic guidelines, while the Gerber farms undergo regular soil testing to check for pesticides and contaminants.
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If you had the time and the energy, of course you'd make all your own baby food by hand! But please: You have a baby. Pomme Bebe gives you the same results without the work, since each of the company's seasonal meals—from classic carrots, pears, and peas to turkey lasagna, quinoa primavera, and chicken provencal—is prepared by hand in the Newport, California, bebe-bar, where local parents and kids can taste test and purchase their favorites. The rest of us can order the meals online—they're flash-frozen for freshness—and serve up organic, gluten-free treats at home.
Photo credit: trenttsd @ flickr
Make Your Own
If you're realizing that—even with the baby—you really do have time to make your own baby food, it's the easiest (and cheapest) way to ensure your new family member is getting the freshest, purest food available. Try the So Easy Baby Cookbook or Planet Green's Home & Garden section for recipes, or create your own concoctions by following these simple steps for homemade baby food.
More on baby food
The TH Interview: Jill Litwin, Owner, Peas of Mind
Make Your Own Organic Baby Food
Where to Get Green Baby Products
Sales of Organic Baby Food Take a Jump
How to Go Green: Babies
More on green eating
How to Go Green: Eating
Organic Food: Healthier for You and the Planet
Eating Local Food: The Movement, Locavores and More
How to Go Green: Food & Health