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Healthy Homemade Baby Food Is A Booming Business In India

With over 79 million children under the age of three in the country, baby food is a booming industry in India. Many parents are becoming concerned with the amount of sugars that are put in commercial baby food, so entrepreneurs like Dr. Hemapriya Natesan are starting businesses making healthy versions. With the success of their efforts, they will hopefully change the practices of the corporate giants of the food industry.

Natesan started the business because she discovered just how sugary commercial baby food really is. With her mother’s help, she began to make batches and batches of mullaikatiya sathumaavu, a traditional Indian porridge made with grains, lentils, nuts, and a variety of spices. The process took 10 days of sun-drying ingredients, heating them, then slow-roasting them, and finally grounding and sieving the components. She shared the recipe online, and she soon received orders from across the country.

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Four years later, Natesan is still running her baby food business, My Little Moppet. She isn’t the only one hopping on the healthy baby food industry. Over the years, this business has grown 10-12% annually—showing how reliant Indian moms are on store-bought baby food. In the latest National Health and Family Survey, authorities found that only 54.9% of infants are exclusively breastfed before six months of age. Given this, many Indians are concerned with the nutritional content of commercial baby food.

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The jars found in stores are not the best for a baby’s nutrition. Wheat and rice-based cereals like Cerelac and Farex contain too much sugar. The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that on average, 47% of the calories in commercial infant and toddler foods come from sugars. If children get used to this kind of taste from a young age, then they are more likely to prefer processed foods later on in life. A higher added sugar intake during infancy is liked to a preference for processed food over home-cooked meals during primary school.

The issue, however, is that processed foods are cheaper and more accessible to most parents. Unless big companies change their formulas, many toddlers will still eat large amounts of sugar. Nestlé has heard these concerns, and the company has stated that they are dedicated to changing the recipes of their baby food. As part of their Eat Right campaign, they plan to consistently reduce sugar in their products.

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