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This Daughter Of A Banana Farmer Is Now The Only Latina Children’s Food Founder

Ask any mom what one of the toughest parts of parenting is, and 90% of them will say: “Getting them to eat their veggies.” Getting children to eat what you put in front of them is a challenge enough. But when you throw something green and/or leafy on their plate, that’s when the challenge intensifies. But one Latina entrepreneur wants to change that. Ecuadorian jefa Saskia Sorrosa believes that, given the right tools, children’s palates can be trained to like vegetables.

In 2016, Saskia Sorrosa launched Fresh Bellies as an antidote to the hyper-processed children’s snacks on store shelves that train children’s taste buds to prefer junk food.

The daughter of a banana farmer and agricultural entrepreneur in Ecuador, Saskia Sorrosa is now the only Latina children’s food founder in the U.S. “When I started the business, I knew where I wanted to take it and how big I wanted it to be, but fast forward to today, and saying I own a multi-million dollar business still sounds outrageous!” she told mitú.

From the beginning, Saskia’s goal was to create children’s snacks with “unmasked” veggie flavors and bolder, more adult seasonings in order to palate train young children to naturally gravitate towards these foods when they’re older. Four months ago, she launched one of her most innovative snacks yet: a line of crunchy, veggie-based snacks for preschoolers called “Groovies”.

While Groovies may resemble Cheetos in appearance, their ingredients couldn’t be more different. Instead of being made up of wheat or corn-like most children’s snacks, Groovies are made up of actual vegetables and the ancient whole grain sorghum.

And based on Groovies’ line of flavors, it appears that Fresh Bellies is serious about training children to enjoy vegetables.

The puffed snack’s flavors include “Turn Up The Beet,” “Shroomtastic,” “Broc N’ Roll” and “Rosemary’s Carrot.” It’s obvious what vegetables each snack contains. And to make things even better, Fresh Bellies seasons their Groovies with spices like paprika, sage, onion, garlic, thyme and rosemary.

According to Sorrosa, the problem with the common practice of “masking” the taste of veggies in foods like cauliflower tots or fruit-based purees is that children never learn to appreciate the taste of vegetables on their own. As Sorrosa told The New York Times: “kids are never learning to eat vegetables. They’re learning to eat fruit sugars.”

Contrary to modern parents’ instincts, infancy and early toddlerhood is when children are most open to tasting new flavors.

It’s during this time that parents should try to introduce their kids to as wide a variety of flavors as possible before they become stuck in their picky-eating ways (and you know they will). As of right now, most children aren’t given the chance to develop an appreciation for vegetable-related tastes, like earthiness or bitterness.

If parents incorporate veggie flavors like Groovies or other Fresh Bellies snacks into their childrens’ diet, chances are, their children will be more likely to appreciate veggies in the future. “Our goal with Fresh Bellies is to make our clean products accessible to all families and continue to help children develop a palate for healthy, savory foods,” Sorrosa told us.

As for Saskia herself, she is an inspiring boss-lady who had a vision and went for it.

Fresh Bellies is in 4,000 stores nationwide including Sprouts, Target, Whole Foods and Kroger. “From being a Hispanic immigrant to owning a national business that started with one simple idea, I am living my wildest dream,” she told mitú. “I keep pinching myself because this is what we’ve built and these are our milestones to celebrate.”

And despite only launching four months ago, Groovies is in 2500 stores nationwide, hopefully with more to come. Saskia told us that she hopes that one day Fresh Bellies will be available to children internationally. As she told mitú: “The sky’s the limit!”

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