“It’s really exciting to be in a new generation of baby food,” says Vicki Johnson, the product designer of Amara organic baby foods. “We don’t have to brag about it — it’s just that there is no comparison to any other baby food on market.”
As a child growing up in Montecito, Johnson traveled the world with her parents and seven siblings. After working as a caterer in town, she moved to the Patagonia area of Chile to pursue a variety of food and lifestyle projects. She now owns a 1930s potato storage warehouse in Puerto Varas, which she’s turning into a hotel, offices, and commercial spaces. She’s calling it the “Puerto Varas Funk Zone.”
Johnson started Amara five years ago primarily as a hobby, but it’s become a serious pursuit, and she now splits her time between Chile and California. The unusual powder packets are produced in California using high-pressure flash freezing of organic ingredients from mostly Californian produce.
“We’ve developed this technique that locks in the nutrients and probiotics,” explained Johnson. Her ingredients lose only 5-10 percent of the nutrients, whereas traditional jar and pouch baby foods lose 60-80 percent during heat processing.
Johnson knows many parents may lack the time to make homemade meals for their infants but hopes that they will still introduce a variety of foods and textures. “They can go to this and know this is the next best thing to fresh,” she said. “There is nothing in it but the actual food without any additives.”
The editors at popular pregnancy website The Bump seem to be licking the spoon. They named Amara as the Best Baby Food for 2018. The product currently comes in six flavors of fruits, vegetables, and grains and is for sale at such stores as Whole Foods, Tri-County Produce, and Lazy Acres as well as through online retailers Thrive Market and Amazon. Johnson hopes to grow its popularity by adding recipes to the boxes and touting it as a lightweight, portable food with a long shelf life for both children and adults.