By Serenity Heegel
Originally published on Paleo f(x) Blog on May 25th, 2017
Shocked. I couldn’t believe it. Joe and I plan to have a child, so, last year, at Paleo f(x), we got excited about looking for Paleo baby food but couldn’t even find one booth devoted to kids. We asked Michelle Norris, Paleo f(x) CEO, where the baby booths were. She said, “I ask myself that every year”. I searched in grocery stores, baby stores, online—nothing! That’s how the idea for Serenity Kids was conceived.
Heartburn, anxiety, and insomnia—the story of my life! My well-meaning mother was a vegetarian while pregnant with me. I was born early and got my first of many ear infections/rounds of antibiotics when I was two weeks old. I had colic and cried for most of that first year. Growing up, I had constant stomach problems. I now know that I’m allergic to or intolerant of most of the foods I grew up eating: dairy, wheat, and even certain vegetables.
Six years ago, I outgrew over-the-counter antacids. When a doctor told me the only solution to my pain was to take a proton pump inhibitor pill every day for the rest of my life, I began desperately looking for other answers. My dad sent me copies of The Primal Blueprint and The Paleo Solution, and I never looked back. Since finding the Paleo diet, my stomach feels great, my anxiety is gone, and I sleep much better. I became such a believer that I left my corporate job to start a Paleo coaching business and became a member of the Paleo f(x) conference team.
My partner, Joe, and I met through the Paleo community. Joe lives with high functioning autism. Paleo has drastically reduced his anxiety, improved his attention and focus, eliminated his skin problems, and stopped his excessive burping. He teaches Paleo principles to other people with autism and parents of autistic kids.
Today’s organic baby food is ridiculously high in sugar, and almost no fat. We did a study of 250 leading organic baby foods and found that 80 percent have 5g of sugar or more. Feeding a 15-pound baby 5g of sugar equates to an adult having an 18-ounce Coke. Sixty percent of organic baby foods contain 10g of sugar or more—two 18-ounce Cokes! Even though meat is an ideal first food, only four percent had meat (none of which was grass-fed), and all of the meat foods contained fillers like grain, dairy, legumes or fruit. Less than one percent had more than 2g of fat.
The more we learned about infant nutrition, the more we discovered the importance of fat intake in the development of a baby’s body and brain.
The USDA even says infants need at least 30 grams of fat a day, and yet high-fat baby foods are virtually non-existent. Grass-fed and pastured meats provide the best source of protein and fat one can eat—no company makes them accessible to babies.
Cheap fruit purees bring in a HUGE profit margin. Babies get hooked on them, as they provide little nutritional value and make the baby need to eat more and more. Sugar addiction starts at infancy. Joe and I set out on a mission to transform the baby food industry and end childhood diabetes.
We met Taylor Collins from Epic, and he was thrilled to help us follow in Epic's footsteps to transform the baby food industry and introduce a Paleo product to the mainstream. We already knew we wanted to use grass-fed and pastured meats for the health quality they provide, but Taylor taught us how raising animals on pasture in the right way can actually regenerate the land—it’s a step up from sustainability. So it's not only better for our health, but for the health of the animals, the farmers and the planet. For Joe, it totally clicked. As an avid animal lover, environmentalist and one whose mother grew up on a family farm, Joe realized that our company could be even more aligned with his values by both improving infant nutrition and supporting regenerative farming!
In the birthing of our product, we discovered why no one has made baby food like this before. We ran into lots of challenges: sourcing clean meats, processing meat to use in baby food, finding suppliers handling small enough volumes for a start-up, dealing with the USDA, and creating safe, shelf-stable products. Plus, grass-fed meat is way more expensive than fruit purees, so we had to get creative with our business model.
Joe and I are both deeply spiritual and believe that if we’re on the right path, the universe will provide. We’ve attracted some AMAZING people who have been really generous with their time and knowledge. In addition to Taylor, Dr. Sarah Ballantyne has lent us her nutritional expertise and introduced us to her huge following. Robb Wolf is advising us in how to operate in the Paleo sphere.
We prayed for a marketing person, and soon we were introduced to the former Marketing and Media Manager for Primal Nutrition Inc. (Mark Sisson’s parent company). We prayed for someone good with finances, and shortly after we sat next to a highly experienced, contract CFO at a networking event. We could list more examples—we truly wouldn’t have made it this far without a ton of persistence, passion, and grace.
Our products are launching soon and we’re super excited to begin the next chapter. We can’t wait to make as big a difference as we can for babies, animals, farmers, and the planet!