Bengaluru-resident Sridevi Ashala was shocked to find chemicals in baby foods and decided to do something about it. She started her own baby food brand called ‘Tummy Friendly Foods’ and encourages people to be conscious of what they consume.
Along with her husband, newly-wed Sridevi Ashala used to explore new eateries across Bengaluru city and make the most of the city’s nightlife. She developed unhealthy food eating habits and then one day, an incident shook the couple out of their reverie.
Sridevi had a miscarriage.
“My doctor told me that one of the reasons for this could be my unhealthy lifestyle. It was really a wake-up call for me and my husband,” the 39-year-old software engineer tells The Better India.
Therefore, the couple started to lead a healthier lifestyle with the help of nutritious food and yoga. They also began researching nutrition.
“Once I started taking care of my health, I developed a habit of checking the ingredients and nutritional information of everything I would buy. I did the same thing when my first daughter was born,” recalls Sridevi.
“What surprised me was the number of chemicals in baby food. I would think to myself how could I feed so many chemicals to my child,” she adds.
A recent study found that 65% of baby foods contained arsenic, 58% contained cadmium, 36% contained lead and 10% contained acrylamide. These chemicals can cause problems with a baby’s developing brain.
Sridevi believes that many illnesses today are because of adulterated food, unhealthy lifestyle, chemicals, and pesticides. “Packaged food, especially baby food from MNCs, is highly processed and loaded with chemicals in the name of fortification. This artificial fortification of baby food causes problems for the kidneys and liver. Babies have a tough time removing these toxins,” says Sridevi.
According to her, the solution to the problem lies in bio-available nutrition, and the way to get this nutrition without fortification is through sprouting. “Sprouting is the natural way of food fortification. It eliminates anti-nutrients, multiplies the nutritional content of the food and makes it completely bio-available, i.e, easy to absorb into the body,” she says.
Mother turned entrepreneur
Like any other mother, it became difficult for Sridevi to make healthy food and focus on her children’s nutrition, especially after her second daughter was born. Unable to focus on the health of her daughters, she quit her job.
This decision is what later led to the birth of the brand, ‘Tummy friendly foods.’
Launched in 2019, the venture sells easy-to-make organic baby food including porridge mixes and pancake mixes for infants from six months of age onwards. Besides baby food, the brand also offers a line of mixes for patients with diabetes.
“I was in software engineering for 15 years, but I finally feel like I’m doing something meaningful after I started this venture. I want to make sure that babies get good food,” says Sridevi, the founder & CEO of the food venture.
The entrepreneur also kept experimenting with new products using chocolate with ragi to make the food interesting and palatable for children without compromising on the health aspect.
So far, Sridevi has invested Rs 1.5 crore into the company and has managed to earn about Rs 10 lakh per month.