For Daniela Kittinger it all started when her baby, Kainoa, began eating solids at six months.
"I didn’t want my son to grow up thinking food came out of a jar or that it was powdered," she said. "I could not feed him overprocessed, store-bought substitutes. Not when Hawaii farmers have so much fresh, locally grown produce to offer year-round."
Kittinger, a working mom who had always been into eating healthy, decided then to commit to feeding her son organic, homemade food using local produce.
Once a week she would make a huge batch that she would freeze into little cubes.
Then a light went on, and she realized it could be a business for other moms seeking the same, and Farm to Highchair was born.
Farm to Highchair takes the eat-local movement to a new audience: moms and babies.
Most moms want to feed their babies well, Kittinger says, but the reality is that many simply don’t have the time or energy to make baby food from scratch every day.
Kittinger markets her organic, fresh pureed baby foods at Baby Awearness in Manoa.
"I’ve always made my own baby food, but I know a lot of my customers are working moms who don’t have the time to make their own," said Ashley Lukens, co-owner of Baby Awearness. "Farm to Highchair is the next best thing."
Lukens also calls purees "moms’ best-kept secret" for slipping vegetables into soups, cakes, smoothies and sandwiches for keiki beyond the infant years.
Kittinger is starting small, with just three flavors — Banana-Papaya, Kale Peasto (a special blend of kale with peas) and Sweet Winter Squash. Four 1.5-ounce servings of one flavor — which add up to six ounces total — sell for $4.
The purees are made without added water, which Kittinger said she thought was best left up to moms.
"The (three available) flavors won’t be static," she said. "They will change all the time depending on what’s seasonal or available."
During the winter, Kittinger says she enjoys making baby foods out of squashes, including kabocha, butternut and acorn.
Bananas and papayas are available here year-round, so they are always a popular choice.
Farm to Highchair’s mission is not only to offer freshly prepared baby food, but to promote a healthy start for keiki and provide a link between Hawaii farmers and consumers.
Kittinger buys the fruits and vegetables locally, as much as possible, making regular treks to Hawaii Kai Farmers’ Market on Saturdays and Haleiwa Farmers’ Market on Sundays.
Flavors on the horizon include Carrot Applesauce, Baby Greens and Minty Mango, when mango season comes around again in spring.
The baby food offerings are now classified as "simply smooth," although Kittinger is also developing "tasty textures," which will offer more interesting combinations and spices using a masher instead of blender.
The foods are frozen into baby-sized servings, ready to pop out of the package and thaw over a stove or in the microwave.
Baby Awearness, Manoa Marketplace, 2752 Woodlawn Drive, Suite 5-209. Phone: 988-0010. For more info, visit farmtohighchair.org.