Photography by Teresa Nguyen
In a little stone house near Zilker Park, beneath a sprawling oak tree and behind some very prickly cactus plants, lies the future of prepared baby food. This unlikely setting is the headquarters of NurturMe, a scrappy young company that seeks to revolutionize the baby-food market. This is also the home of Lauren McCullough, who, along with partner Caroline Freedman, launched NurturMe in 2010.
It’s Freedman’s concept that makes NuturMe foods special—instead of gloppy baby chow housed in breakable glass jars, this is certified organic, gluten-free and made from fruits and vegetables like apples, bananas and squash, freeze-dried and tucked inside sustainably produced pouches. The drying process exposes foods to significantly less heat than traditional cooking, so more nutrients and phytochemicals are retained. “Some of our products are freeze-dried, meaning they’re not cooked at all before drying,” McCullough explains. “Other products are drum dried, meaning they’re flash cooked for thirty seconds and then dried down.” With no added salt, sugar or preservatives—just add water or breast milk—it’s farm-to-baby fresh.
Freedman’s idea was, of course, baby inspired. When she was six months pregnant and investigating the baby-food market, she was surprised to learn that nothing had really changed since she was little. “It occurred to me that not much progress had happened in recent decades, despite all the trends towards healthier, organic eating and things like convenience packaging and sustainability,” says Freedman. “I immediately spotted an opportunity.”
Freedman was well aware of the nutritional benefits of drying fruits and vegetables, and her concept took root and quickly blossomed. “If it’s dried and requires liquid, nursing moms could use breast milk!” she says. Plus, the ability to package the product in lightweight, sustainable pouches instead of bulky glass meant easier handling options for moms and dads who fly, camp or who are simply on the go with baby.
NurturMe has grown faster than a well-fed toddler—quickly expanding to national chains like Whole Foods Market and Babies “R” Us—and the company expects to hit $1.5 million in revenue in 2011. Freedman and McCullough consider their location to be a major factor in their success. “The company’s biggest blessing is being based in Austin,” says McCullough, a former culinary arts teacher at the Texas School for the Deaf. “Austin is such an inspiring city, where people’s dreams come true every day. It gives you the confidence in what you are doing.” —Cari Marshall
For more information about NurturMe, visit nurturme.com or call 512-326-4910.