Organic food, for the baby: Madison's YumTum is growing

Madison-based baby food company YumTum is refining its product line this spring. YumTum received its official organic certification in November 2012. The duo behind the company, Jacy Eckerman and Heidi Speight, have designed new nutrition labels "so you can see how nutrient-rich YumTum is compared to other products," says Eckerman. They've adjusted the naming conventions for their products, which initially tried to play off the courses of an adult meal, to something more straightforward. And they've moved to more spacious production quarters at 1325 Greenway Cross.

Eckerman and Speight met in birth classes but "were not instant best friends," says Eckerman. After bumping into each other around town several times during the first six months of being moms, however, they finally traded phone numbers - and parenting ideas. They were especially frustrated by the lack of healthy food available to feed babies, then toddlers, and banded together to research recipes. "We were lucky to have each other," Eckerman says.

When the two started YumTum in the fall of 2011, it shared space with peanut butter maker YumButter in the Main Street Industries incubator (despite the similar names, there is no other connection between the businesses). In the new digs, they have a six-burner commercial stove and many freezers. The food is gently steamed, then frozen. Eckerman and Speight cook on Saturdays, do the packaging on Mondays, and deliver and market the rest of the week.

YumTum makes food for babies 4-6 months, 8 months and up, and toddler snacks. The latter category was one that was particularly lacking in healthy options before the two introduced Babycakes, Chewy Breadstix and Honey Doos.

The ingredients come from local farms, including Sprouting Acres, Lonesome Stone Milling, Wagner's Sugar Hill Maple Syrup, Emerald, Driftless Organics and the Organic Blueberry Ranch.

Three new dishes were introduced this week: Apple n' Oats, Squash n' Rice and a gluten-free cookie snack. They are sold at the Willy Street Co-op and will be at Metcalfe's Market and Hy-Vee next month. And YumTum will be at the Natural Parenting Expo at Monona Terrace on March 10.

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