Jaclyn Schnau, the success and health of our society starts in the pregnant belly

Jaclyn Schnau, co-founder of Pumpkin Organics, joins us to talk about the shocking reality of baby food. An episode diving deep into baby nutrition during the first 1000 days and the reasons why the current baby food industry really needs a shake-up.


Why are we feeding children and mothers so badly? The first foods for babies shouldn’t be fruit, but vegetables, bitter things, maybe a bit acidic. They might not love it immediately, but they need to be exposed to it to learn how to eat it later, to be healthy and become the non-picky eaters we all need.


There’s a chemical reaction in the body, in the brain, and when you put pureed fruit and sweetness: the brain craves more of it and rejects the bitter or the sour aspects of food. It is necessary to develop the taste palate from an early age. 80% of the brain is formed in the first 1000 days. By giving a baby fruit or bland flavouring food you are not providing proper nutrition and, at the same time, you are giving too much sugar into these tiny bodies and training on unhealthy eating habits that the child will then develop further and further.

‘I’m not a vegetarian, but every child should start on vegetables. A child can definitely have fruit, don’t get me wrong. But if you are going to eat fruit, the fructose in that fruit, if you don’t have the fibre from the whole food, it goes completely into the body as glucose and it’s not used as energy, it’s stored in the body.’ – Jaclyn Schnau


According to Jaclyn, we have so much acceptance and patience in almost every aspect of learning, except when it comes to nutrition. We give up so easily. And one of the main drivers of that is that parents have very poor eating habits or lack of knowledge themselves. There is a need for a change in society.

‘When you asked about what we could change… one of the single biggest things is education. Because, if people actually knew really what they were doing to their bodies, I think it would change. In the last half a year, more and more people are starting to value nutrition. And we really see a growth of the base and more and more people willing to try what the child might not instantly like in phase one, which is a fruit pouch, but actually dig into the complexity of building their diet based on plants, led by vegetables.’ – Jaclyn Schnau


Nutrition starts with the mom. We have to start educating women when they are in the school system, when we talk about any aspects of getting pregnant or being pregnant, and with products on the shelves. Germany has a system where almost every mom gets a midwife to help them through the pregnancy, but you get no nutrition knowledge from a standard midwife. This knowledge often comes from parents, grandmothers, friends or a complete strangers who are also worried about their body during the pregnancy.

‘This is so unfair to women. You can’t expect women to wake up one morning and have this nutrition halo above them telling their brain what decisions to make. When we as an entire society do not actually put anything forward to help educate them […] You get more instructions on your IKEA bookshelf than you get on nutrition when you’re pregnant, or when you go to the appointments for your doctor, around six months, to get a guide on how to feed your child. Everyone is left alone. And when you’re left alone, and you have no idea what’s happening in your body, in the world around you, you’re so anxious, you find bits of knowledge that you grab onto.’ – Jaclyn Schnau


The whole industry has to come together and change many aspects. It is necessary to grow proper ingredients, regulate the industry and take away all fruit pouches, as there is no need for them in the market. Nothing with added sugar, juice or concentrate is needed. There isn’t any health benefit to it. It’s necessary to put proper regulations that state what is acceptable baby food in the first 1000 days.

‘We were giving children 200 jars, 200 pouches, where 85% of the contents were apple, pear and banana. And there is nothing in science that says this is the right way to start children’s nutrition.’ – Jaclyn Schnau


We need to put a garden in every daycare, kindergarten and school, and teach children how to grow food, how to nurture and harvest vegetables, how to cook, etc. This is the change we can drive by doing basic things in the school system.

‘If a child actually goes through this, it’s not just their knowledge of the food that will increase, but food waste will drastically decrease because they’ll see how much hard work they put into creating that carrot and they will eat it with such great pride, and they’ll want to share it. So there’s so much that we can do to actually create this grassroots demand for better soil conditions, better aspects to growing because when you are healthier, you demand healthier aspects of life.’ – Jaclyn Schnau

‘Healthy people are going to demand healthy food. Right? Once we get people healthy, you don’t want to go back to feeling sick, you don’t want to go back to pain in the body. And healthy food comes from healthy soil, healthy land.’ – Jaclyn Schnau


With a 1B euro fund Jaclyn would implement a plan where every single mom- from the time they become pregnant all the way to first nutrition- would be financially covered or at least subsidised. And where every single baby would have a fair start for his brain and body to be developed, so children can start in a healthy and happy way and really lead up to a contributing member of society.

‘The success in the health of our society starts in the belly, there’s no doubt. When you eat well, you feel well, right? Because there’s also not just nutritional science, but mental wellbeing science in the pregnancy, that if you are happy, and smiling, your baby is going to come out happier and more, ready to adjust and learn. Every single thing we do has a domino effect.’ – Jaclyn Schnau


Koen and Jaclyn also talked about:

  • The aspects Jaclyn is changing within the baby food industry;
  • Access to health should not be driven by your socio-economic position;
  • Investors should not follow the herd, they should back the big ideas;
  • What Jaclyn would do with 1B euros.

To know more about Jaclyn Schnau and Pumpkin Organics, download and listen to this episode. 




Feedback, comments, suggestions? Reach me via Twitter @KoenvanSeijen, in the comments below or through Get in Touch on this website.

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The above references an opinion and is for information and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.

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2 comments on “Jaclyn Schnau, the success and health of our society starts in the pregnant belly

  1. Joanna Sheldon says:

    I wish you’d asked Jaclyn about her packaging, Koen. She uses polypropylene, which is supposed to be the safest petroleum-based food-packaging material, but it’s not as safe as glass. It’s true, you can’t hand a baby a glass jar and a spoon and tell them to get on with it, you have to sit down and feed them. But maybe that’s a good thing. The German company HiPP offers organic baby food, a lot of it without fruit or other sweeteners, in glass jars, and has been doing so for a very long time. I don’t know how good their product is, but it’s obviously a model that works.
    In any case I wouldn’t want to feed a kid out of a pp pouch with a plastic mouthpiece.

    1. Koen says:

      I guess the reason for this packaging or not being able to push on other options comes from the fact that they are quite a small company and are not able to dictate the packaging when working with the producers. Regarding HiPP, I think they are part of the large group of organic baby food producers which mostly use organic apple and banana and not vegetables or anything else babies actually need. Mostly from a cost perspective.

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