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Better Than a Fairy Tale



The quest

Every parent wants their children to “grow up big and strong,” as they were encouraged to do by their parents back in the day. But exactly what that should entail can be a confusing and complicated dilemma.

According to the National Institutes of Health, “A person’s first 1,000 days, or the period from conception to age two, are the most crucial for the development of their body, brain, metabolism, and immune system.” This period lays the foundation for long-term health and wellness—and nutrition has been shown to be a key factor.

Thus, optimizing what you feed your infant and toddler is imperative, not just for the immediate benefits for proper growth and development, but also for the long-term purpose of “establishing healthy dietary patterns that may influence … eating behaviors and health throughout the life course,” as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) notes in its 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines.

The basics are undeniable: fresh fruits and vegetables, clean proteins, and whole grains must be staples in every child’s diet. But finding them in a convenient and reliable form is a whole different story. That’s where Once Upon A Farm comes riding to your rescue.

“When I had my first child, as a working mom, I was making all my baby’s food myself. I could buy better food for my pets than for my kids!” That’s Cassandra Curtis speaking, one of the co-founders of Once Upon A Farm. Realizing this was a problem that many parents faced, she recruited Jennifer Garner and John Foraker to join her in creating an entirely new category of baby food and kids’ snacks, one that would ensure that “kids get the nutrition they need in the recipes they love.” A noble goal, to be sure.

For Foraker, it was a challenge. “No one was doing fresh baby food. Kids’ food here in the United States is basically a mountain of sugar. It’s really unforgivable.” For Garner, it was about helping families, and “making sure that littlest babies know what fresh tastes like, what fruits and vegetables taste like in their purest form, and helping strip sugar out of their little taste buds.”

Better fats

When cooking, look for ways to replace saturated fats with vegetable and nut oils, which provide essential fatty acids and vitamin E.


The journey

They set out, first and foremost, to make foods that their own kids would want to grab for themselves, and at the same time provide optimal nutrition and contribute to the betterment of the planet in a multitude of ways.

The foods and snacks are organic, non-GMO, and certified—that was essential and basic. The products are prepared using HPP, a high-pressure cold-processing method that destroys harmful organisms and, as Foraker notes, “locks in taste, color, and nutrition.” The top three priorities for recipes, according to Curtis, are “safety, nutrition, and taste.”

Still, Once Upon A Farm goes one step further. Their partnerships with family farms—both large and small—are rigorously monitored for transparency “down to the dirt,” including the consideration of sustainability and quality of ingredients. “We test for everything. We hold ourselves to European standards, so our food is ‘clean’ in a way you just don’t find here in America. It’s got to have clean soil, no leads, no plastics, no chemicals of any kind,” says Garner. “We want parents to trust us.”

And what about their own kids? Do they sample the goods? “Every single one,” affirms Curtis. And Garner laughs, “My kids see the samples in the fridge and start saying ‘when are we gonna get into this?’ They will fight over it!”

But as the saying goes, well-begun is only half-done. It's crucial that the entire family models healthy eating habits. At every stage of life, the USDA advises families to “follow a healthy dietary pattern,” “enjoy nutrient-dense food and beverage choices,” and “stay within calorie limits.”

The family farm

One very special source of fresh produce, like blueberries and pumpkins, is Jennifer Garner’s century-old family farm in Locust Grove, Oklahoma. Here, biodynamic farming methods ensure that the animals are content, the bees are buzzing, and the blissful nature reigns.


The treasure

The goal is simple: “We want to be an ally for Moms,” Garner explains. “We want to make it easy for them, we want to make good nutrition accessible, affordable, and available.”

It doesn’t stop there, though. The passion of the folks behind Once Upon A Farm inspires them to look far beyond the borders of commerce, to every corner of the land where children and families are neglected and in crisis. In service of this resolve, they have initiated partnerships and programs that provide support and foodstuffs to families in need.

Building upon Garner’s long relationship with the non-profit Save The Children, Once Upon A Farm has partnered with the organization to launch “A Million Meals,” a program that aims to provide one million meals to kids in food-insecure communities across the US. In addition, under the patronage of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), they are providing “baby coolers” of their products to low-income families in five states, with more soon to come.

For Curtis, Garner, and Foraker, their endeavors matter deeply. “When we see how grateful moms are to us,” says Garner, “you don’t need more than that.” Foraker, expanding upon Garner’s sentiments, reveals what motivates him is “making sure that every woman knows that their kid deserves the best too, doesn’t matter what zip code they’re from, what income level they’re from.” Curt sums it up perfectly: “The passion is simple but big. It’s to leave this planet a better place than how we found it.”

Picky eaters?

Strategy #1: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. They may need to be introduced to a particular food several times before deciding to try and eventually enjoy it. Strategy #2: Make food playful. Make faces on the plate and enjoy those time-honored games—Choo-Choo Train and Airplane. Distract and conquer!



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