Putting Babies First
We are serious about growing food specifically for babies. That’s why only Gerber has a team of agriculture experts that work hands-on with the farmers who grow most of our crops: selecting seeds and varieties, testing the soil and helping care for the crops until they are harvested.
Gerber’s Agriculture team works year-round to put babies first. We caught up with members of the team to find out some of the creative ways they keep your baby’s food full of nutrition while meeting standards strict enough for tiny tummies.
Any great team is unified behind a shared goal. In sports, that’s a championship. For Gerber’s Agriculture Team, it’s making sure babies have fruits and vegetables that are nutritious, full of flavor and safe for their growing bodies.
Gerber is the only baby food company that has a team of experts working hand-in-hand with farmers year round, from planning which seeds to plant come spring to coordinating the harvest. Being an agriculture expert comes from years of experience in the fields. Dan Nugent, the newest member of the team, spent his summers as a teenager plucking sour cherries for his grandfather, himself a Gerber grower. Chris Falak, who has been a member of the team for 25 years, put himself through college by growing sweet corn on his own farm.
This farming know-how leads to a spirit of teamwork between the Agriculture Team and Gerber growers. The average length of this relationship is 18 years, and those lasting relationships engender trust built from working together season after season.
An apple a day
One of the Agriculture Team’s primary duties is to make sure growers harvest produce at the right moment. That’s when fruits and vegetables are full of nutrition, but it’s also a matter of taste. Gerber doesn’t add sweeteners to its fruit and veggie purees, so if they are going to taste delicious the ingredients must be picked at just the right time.
It's a challenge that growers take up with the help of the Agriculture Team. While some farmers will begin picking apples as soon as the leaves turn, that's not good enough for Gerber. Agriculture Team members and Gerber growers will have an apple a day as the harvest nears. It’s not just because of the old saying but rather for the babies who will also be eating them. Only when the Golden and Red Delicious apples grown for Gerber purees have attained the hint of sweetness they are known for will the Agriculture Team alert farmers that they're ready to be picked.
Embracing new research
To be at its best, the Agriculture Team spends much of the non-growing season keeping up on the latest agriculture research. They work closely with Michigan State University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to find new, safe ways to help prevent pests from spoiling crops. Typically, the answer to pests is pesticides, but the Agriculture Team always looks to dig deeper to find solutions.
The Agriculture Team helped growers fend off coddling moths — a pest that can wipe out an orchard of apples during mating season — with a wholly natural treatment. The team suggested farmers misted their fields with a scent that mimicked moth pheromones, which confused the moths and prevented them from finding a mate. With the moths kept them away from the apples, not only were the crops preserved, but yields actually rose.