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Navajo-owned Bidii Baby Foods increases early childhood access to indigenous foods

Buying healthy food in the Naabeehó Bináhásdzo, or the Navajo Nation, is a challenge. Spanning a territory larger than Ireland, the reservation counts just a dozen or so supermarkets, and people drive an average of 50 miles to purchase fresh foods. Aiming to provide a solution, especially for the area's youngest residents, two Navajo farmers launched Bidii Baby Foods.

The brand sells a line of dehydrated baby cereals centered around dried, steamed Navajo white corn (known as Neeshjhizhii), with additions like cushaw squash and Hopi amaranth. Using traditional Navajo techniques, Bidii grows corn and squash for the cereal on its own organic farm on the Colorado River Plateau in New Mexico. By getting young children accustomed to traditional foods, Bidii hopes to positively influence their taste preferences for life, preventing adverse health outcomes and connecting kids to their cultural heritage.

Earlier this year, Bidii Baby Foods received USD 100K in funding from Save the Children's Rural Child Hunger Innovation Lab as one of five 2023 grantees. The startup plans to work with other indigenous farmers to build an agricultural cooperative that can sell locally-grown, traditional Navajo produce and products directly to consumers and to local organizations.

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Early childhood experiences are pivotal in shaping lifelong dietary habits. The food people are exposed to when they're very young significantly influences their taste preferences and eating behaviors as adults. By providing minimally processed foods that are low in sugar and high in nutritional value, Bidii addresses a vital aspect of preventive health.

Even more compelling is how the brand is reconnecting Navajo people with their heritage through indigenous foods. Consumers are increasingly seeking ways to celebrate their cultural identities. How can your brand tap into that desire? Which traditions could you help revive and preserve?

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