Good: Jarred Food

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baby food gimme the good stuff

jarredfood.felixPredictably, I had big plans of feeding Felix only homemade food when it was time to start him on solids. We first tried when he was six months old, but Felix had no real interest in anything besides the ultimate good stuff, AKA breastmilk, until after his first birthday.

I ended up throwing away a ton of homemade fruit and veggie purees that I’d whipped up in the Beaba. Pretty soon, I was buying Earth’s Best jarred baby food for the rare instances when he’d accept a tablespoon at meal time. This experience prompted me to write this guide for other moms looking for the best jarred baby food.

A lot of you have asked about the recent studies on heavy metals in baby foods. Here’s the bottom line, in my opinion: If you avoid rice-based baby food and anything with fruit juice concentrate, you’ll eliminate most of the risk.
 

 

What’s Wrong with Jarred Baby Food?

Jarred baby food is cooked at extremely high temperatures so it can sit for years (check the expiration date on a jar for proof!). This processing removes a lot of nutrients, and also affects the flavor of the food.

Jarred baby food often contains flour or other starches (such as maltodextrin), which serve as thickeners.

Additives and preservativesmay be included in jarred food–ascorbic or citric acid are commonly found in organic baby foods.

BPA is often used to coat the lids of jars of baby food, although it may not be present in the food itself.

Bottom line: I think it’s fine to carry a jar of baby food to use in a pinch, but it’s better to make your own (says the girl who totally bailed on making her own). Homemade baby food is cheaper, better for the environment, healthier, and tastier. If you want to find the best jarred baby food, I hope this guide will help.

Great Books on Baby Food Making

Starting Solids, by Annabel Karmel

The Best Homemade Baby Food on the Planet, by Karin Knight and Tina Ruggiero

The Everything Organic Cooking for Baby and Toddler Book, by Kim Lutz and Megan Hart


The Good Stuff: Best Jarred Baby Food

Good Stuff Badge

When it comes to jarred baby food, I found only one decent brand, which of course wasn’t the one I purchased when Felix was eating purees.
healthy-times

Healthy Times

The Good
Healthy Times jarred food contains no starches, is 100% organic, and the founder of the company, Rondi Prescott, says she uses local fruits and vegetables and cooks her food in small batches to preserve flavor.

The Bad
The company has been unresponsive to my messages asking about BPA in the lids of their jars.

How to Get Some
Available in select grocery stores and on Amazon for less than a buck a jar.


The Bad Stuff

Bad Stuff Badge

Beech Nut jarred baby foods often contain salt, they are not organic, and the jar lids are coated with BPA. Moreover, Beech Nut is rated significantly below average in its impact on society as well as the environment. (Source: GoodGuide’s scientific product rating guide).

AlthoughGerber seems to be a better company than Beech Nut in terms of societal and environmental responsibility, most of their purees are not organic, and there is BPA in their jar lids. Some of the Gerber Graduations Little Meals even contain partially hydrogenated soybean oil (otherwise known as trans fat, which is illegal in several countries as well as in New York City restaurants). Gerber defends its use of BPA on its website, but when I called I was told they do not use BPA in any packaging. Gerber adds substantial amounts of water and thickening agents (flours and chemically-modified starches) to many of their baby foods.


The Sneaky Stuff

Sneaky Stuff Badge

Felix ate lots of Earth’s Best baby food when he started on solids. Earth’s Best jars lids contain BPA (although they claim that independent testing showed no BPA in the food itself). While some flavors are just fruits or veggies, most contain a lot of water, and many contain rice or corn starch as a filler. Earth’s Best Yummy Tummy Instant Oatmeal, Apples & Cinnamon, even contains sugar.

Del Monte’s Nature’s Goodness jarred baby food contains all sorts of gross stuff, like mannitol, casein sodium, soy protein, sugar, and glucose syrup solids. Del Monte’s social policies, practices, and performance place it among the bottom 20 percent of companies rated by GoodGuide.

NurtureMe dried baby food packets seem like a great alternative to traditional jarred foods. NurtureMe uses dried fruits and veggies to make powders, to which you add milk or water. Unfortunately, some flavors contain non-organic sunflower lecithin, which may contain trace amounts of hexane, as well as (organic) maltodextrin.

Felix-pouchesRead our review of baby food pouches.

 

 

 

Felix-eatingRead our review of frozen baby food.

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24 responses to “Good: Jarred Food”

  1. Any updates yet? Also wondering about Happy Baby’s Jarred purées. Labels look ok good but it’s the BPA I’m most curious about. Thanks!

  2. I contacted Beechnut and Earth’s Best and both companies stated the lids to the jarred baby food do not have BPA in them. Do you have any updated information regarding Earths Best and Beechnut Organic.

  3. This guide really could use some updating. For instance beechnut does now have organic baby food and has a naturals selection as well.

    • I don’t know the brand, but if it’s organic and the ingredients are straight-forward (fruits, veggies), then yes!

  4. I am just now reading the comments on this article. However, I wish I would have seen them sooner as I just placed an order on the Healthy Times website after the recommendation you gave. I have yet to receive any email regarding my order & tried contacting the company, but my email was returned undeliverable. I guess I’ll file a duspuit to get my money back!

  5. What about HPP brands that require refrigeration because they are not processed at high temperatures? One example is once upon a farm.

  6. Hello!

    Beechnut actually does have Organic as well, have you seen those? They have Beechnut naturals and Beechnut organics with no additives so not all bad.

      • I noticed you mentioned Beaba cookers here. Are you still a proponent of using their products to make homemade baby food? They seem to be reviewed positively but know they are made of plastic

  7. Hi there, do you know if Healthy Times is still in business? The last posting to Facebook or Twitter was 2015, and they no longer sell through Amazon or Iherb. I tried to email through the contact list on their site, but the email was returned to me as undeliverable. Since it’s the only “good stuff” on your list, I’m wondering if there’s an alternative if this company has gone out of business. Thanks!

    • Hi! Healthy Times is indeed no longer and business, and the Jarred Food page on my site is in desperate need of an update! If you’re looking for jarred food in the meantime, I think Earth’s Best is fine as long as you read the label and make sure there are no fillers, starches, additives, etc. Some of it should definitely just be fruit or veggie purees. This for instance looks fine: http://amzn.to/1TWOMFi

  8. Hi-
    I’ve been looking into the Holle & Lebenswert brands for jarred baby food and wondering how they compare to Healthy times? Between the 3 which would go with?

  9. Hi – wanted to ask about Nature’s Promise. They weren’t mentioned but seem to have a pretty good ingredient list. Some jars have only the organic veg and water. On a separate note – I’ve noticed sodium varies wildly among baby food jars anywhere from 0-70. What is a good threshold amount? I try to get food with as low a number as possible (0 in many cases) but just wanted to get a frame of reference on what is really ok for a baby

  10. Hi ladies-
    This page does need updating–sounds like BeechNut is now making a good option! You can definitely trust the label. Be aware, though, that the lids probably contain BPA.

  11. I am wondering the same thing as Kendra! I just bought a bunch of Beechnut Organics and when I went to their website I found the same thing, everything seems organic with no added ingredients.

  12. Hi! I have some questions about BeechNut. I’ve done some research online and it seems like they have fairly recently reformulated their recipes and I’ve looked at the ingredients and they seem to just be real foods. ie- ingredients say “pears, cherries and blueberries”. Is that not accurate? Or is the information presented above outdated? I use your website alot for help finding good products, so I am a little confused and would love some more information about BeechNut!

    Thanks!

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