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Baby food without the guilt

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Allyson Spanier is mom to 6-year-old Addison and 3-year-old Bodhi. But you might say she has three kids. "It's like my third baby. I take a lot of pride in it," she said.

She's talking about her business, Vermont Baby. The tag line -- "Pure. Organic. Yum." With her first child, Spanier always made her baby food from scratch. But then after having a second she found it harder to find the time to make all her own food, so she headed to the grocery store and was discouraged by what she found. "What was on the shelves was unappealing to me -- the taste the quality -- I didn't want to feed it to my son," she said.

She knew if she wasn't finding the right options, other parents were dealing with the same food problem, so she created Vermont Baby. Spanier makes her four flavors -- Spinach and Pears, Beets and Blueberries, Squash and Apples and Sweet Potatoes and Peaches -- at the Food Venture Center in Hardwick. "It tastes good. It tastes like real food, like it should," she said.

The recipes are simple -- a fruit, a vegetable and lemon juice or vitamin C.  That makes thick baby food with a shelf life of one year.  Spanier says she buys local as much as she can.  "I really take pride that I can get a lot of my ingredients right here. My neighbor is an organic farmer -- I get my blueberries from him. Down the road I get beets in Johnson," Spanier said.

So does it stack up to the big name brands? We did a blind taste test comparing Vermont Baby food to the national competition -- which costs half the price. It didn't take long for us both to find our favorites. "I know it's mine -- I can tell right away because of the peaches -- it was such a great batch," she said. "I wanted to take the guilt away from moms. You shouldn't have guilt when you're feeding your child. You want to feel good about what you're giving them."

Spanier sells her Made in Vermont baby food in stores around Vermont -- and people are eating it up.  She's even been approached by large chain stores hoping to carry her products.  But for now she's taking baby steps with her business.

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