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A PLUM IDEA

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by Judy Antell

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Moms want the best for their kids. When they can’t find what they want, they make their own. That’s how Plum Organics was born. Gigi Lee Chang, a New York City mom, was dissatisfied with the choices of commercially made baby food, so she started making food for her son, Cato. Her husband, Victor, joked that she should start selling it, and suddenly it sounded like a viable idea. She chose “Plum” to be vibrant and “representative of positive things”. Purple, she adds, is her favorite color.


Plum Organics food is flash frozen, to stay fresh, and was just launched in Whole Foods and in health food stores nationwide, at $3-$4 a container. Each box has two 4-oz. same-flavor servings. This is, of course, a premium over commercial baby food, which averages 59 cents for a 4-oz. jar, but if you regularly pay $4.75 for your mocha latte, you may be more inclined towards a premium product for your baby.

The food comes in two stages: Real Smooth purees for babies 6-9 months, and More Texture for babies 9 months and older. The purees include Sweet Potatoes, Pears & Apples, and Super Greens; the chunkier versions are: Super Greens Multigrain, Chicken Whole Grain Pasta, Red Lentil Veggie, Vegetable Stew with Beef, and Banana Rice Pudding. Super Greens is a puree of peas, spinach and green beans that retains the essence of the vegetables; the multigrain variety adds brown rice and barley.

Cato, who is now 2 1/2 years old, has already ‘aged out’ of Plum Organics foods, but that could change. Chang says her “vision is larger than just better food for babies, but encompasses healthy eating for older children, too” and she plans to expand the line to include toddler foods and kids’ meals.

“Healthy eating starts with the very first spoonful,” says Chang. “Moms want to feed their baby something better than what is in the jar, but most don’t have time to prepare it themselves.” Plum Organics gives parents a homemade approximation — made with love — without the fuss.
For more information, go to www.plumorganics.com.

Is it a trend…?
Gerber Products Company, which started jarring baby food 78 years ago, just came out with a complete line of organic baby food. Gerber had an earlier, more limited, organic line, Tender Harvest, but the new Gerber Organic includes cereals, juice, fruit and vegetable purees, and ‘dinners’ that are more textured, combining vegetables, grains and meat. There are also a couple of toddler products; the apple strawberry dried snacks may have you reaching onto your child’s plate. Kurt Schmidt, Gerber president and CEO, notes that “organics has gone mainstream” — the new Gerber line is sold at supermarkets and mass retailers. Prices are slightly higher than the traditional Gerber line: around 69 cents for a 4-oz. jar, $2.89 for a four-pack of juice.

Top Docs Endorse Organic
In The Healthiest Kid in the Neighborhood (Little, Brown and Co., $13.99), parenting experts William Sears, M.D. and Martha Sears, R.N. address the issue of the cost of organic food and conclude that it is worth the extra money. “Pollutants in the air, in water and in food all have the potential to harm our children’s health. In addition to limiting your child’s exposure to environmental toxins, give your child food that you know is free of pesticides and chemical fertilizers,” they write. The book, written with their children James Sears, M.D. and Robert Sears, M.D., notes that growing bodies are more vulnerable to pesticides and store more toxins. They point out studies that “are beginning to show that some organic foods contain higher levels of certain vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.” But in acknowledging the budget constraints, they recommend the organic “dirty dozen” — apples, apricots, blackberries, cantaloupe, cherries, grapes, nectarines, peaches, pears, raspberries, spinach and strawberries; in addition, organic dairy, free-range, organic meat and poultry, organic dried fruit, and lean food (lean meats, skim or low-fat milk) — “since pesticides tend to concentrate in fat” — which will best lessen your family’s exposure to agricultural chemicals.


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