Bens’ desire to feed ancestral foods to their son and make those options available to other Native children. The couple wrote a business plan and founded Bidii Baby Foods – which takes its name from the Navajo word for “greedy”, which Zach said has come to mean “always wanting more” or “somebody who’s always snacking”. To support Bidii Baby Foods and the work they hoped the company could do, the Bens also launched a non-profit called the Ben Initiative, standing for Birth, Education and Nutrition.
Six months later, just as Yabiitoh was turning one, that same Indian Health Services facility purchased 300 packets of Bidii Baby’s Navajo white corn cereal to distribute to families. The dehydrated cereals – now available with squash and amaranth – are prepared much like oatmeal: added to boiling water and then cooled to room temperature. Today, Zach said, Bidii Baby Foods is available at IHS facilities across New Mexico, Utah and Arizona.
The concept of baby food as its own category of food didn’t exist in the United States before the early 20th century, said Amy Bentley, a professor of food studies at New York University and author of Inventing Baby Food: Taste, Health, and the Industrialization of the American Diet.
This is when “you have the rise of industrialized food products”, said Bentley. At the same time that scientists were identifying vitamins and understanding the importance of fruits and vegetables, the canning process made those same foods shelf stable. And as medical specialities began to emerge, pediatricians, obstetricians and others began issuing recommendations for infant care.