Meet the Latina mom bridging the gap between health and snacking
Saskia Sorrosa of Fresh Bellies is leading the intersection of health and munching within America’s snacking culture.
MORE IN THIS SECTION
In the United States, snacking has been traditionally seen as an activity of children, and not conducive to a functioning adult’s meal schedule.
Despite these beliefs, snacking is not just a child’s pastime. In fact, more and more adults are snacking, and adding snack breaks into their daily eating schedule.
It’s no secret that many Americans take to snacking, either to have some food in their stomach between tasks, or simply for enjoyment.
Where snacking may be lost on some people is in a lack of healthy options for savory treats. At this intersection with a solution is Saskia Sorrosa.
Snacking in adults was on the rise prior to the pandemic, and its growth was only accelerated because of it, says Sorrosa. There are a few reasons behind the shifting culture.
“It used to be that, 30 years ago, snacking was seen as something that wasn’t good for you… or that it was mainly for kids,” said Sorrosa in conversation with AL DÍA. “Now, [consumers] are seeing snacking as a way to contribute to a healthy way of life. That didn’t happen before.”
One deciding factor behind the cultural shift was a need for nourishment during the pandemic; then the need to meet nourishment with the uptick in snacking.
“Over the first six months to a year, people had felt like they gained weight,” said Sorrosa. “They were home more often, they weren't really controlling what they were eating, and all of those things have led to people making healthier choices and really trying to regain their health.”
In pandemic times, people began paying more attention to how their eating habits affect their health. This led to different practices in snacking.
However, when it comes to children’s diets, many kids in America are missing out on important groups like vegetables, grains, protein, and fiber.
Many kids instead are developing sweets tooths in reaction to the many added sugars commonplace in kids’ snacks.
This occurs as early as infancy, as baby food often contains vegetables mixed with fruits. This trains palates to prefer sweets.
One way to eliminate this shortcoming is to allow children’s palates to develop with savory foods, foods that are naturally unsweetened. This is a major goal of Fresh Bellies.
Sorrosa is the CEO and co-founder of Fresh Bellies. The company believes kids should learn to love vegetables without hidden sugars.
Celebrating savory flavors and seasoning with real herbs and spices, Fresh Bellies offers an array of non-GMO verified and Kosher certified snacks.
Their snacks cross off unique flavors not often found in savory and kid-friendly snacks. The brand is also focused on low-sodium items.
“Things don’t need to be extremely salty to taste good, enough to make you thirsty to taste good,” said Sorrosa. “Now salt has been linked to all these health issues as well, [such as] hypertension to heart disease.”
Fresh Bellies flavors include beets (“Turn-Up The Beet”), broccoli (“Broc N’ Roll”), and even mushroom (“Shroomtastic”), claimed as never-before-seen in kids' products.
In recent times, Sorrosa has observed a cultural shift in snacking, especially when healthier options are introduced.
Snacking in the United States
Most snacks in the United States are fried and covered in artificial dye, or a fake cheese powder.
These snacks are high in sugar or salt, high fructose corn syrup, and MSGs. These ingredients open the door for poor heart health.
The ingredients of most savory snacks list a contrast when compared to Fresh Bellies’ snacks.
Instead, Groovies — one example of Fresh Bellies’ product line — are baked instead of fried, made with real vegetables and ancient grain. They are vegan, gluten-free, and contain only eight simple non-GMO ingredients mixed with herbal flavors.
The ingredients of Groovies offers a more heart healthy option for enjoyers of savory snacks, and are more open to other groups such as gluten-free and vegan snackers.
Today, the culture of snacking has shifted entirely. Consumers have been noting the health benefits of snacking: the same benefits that may be overridden if healthy snacking options aren’t available.
“A lot of consumers are replacing meals, even, with healthy snacks, so it’s really part of a healthy lifestyle today,” said Sorrosa. “That’s one of the major shifts in snacking.”
Snack brands today are focusing more on healthier options, nutrition, and more often straying away from promoting their items as treats of indulgence.
However, while Sorrosa appreciates the conversation on health occuring in the nation, she does not believe the discussion is revolving enough around ingredients, noting that many healthy options still contain ingredients such as artificial and added sugar and preservatives.
“Even though there’s a rise in this healthy, better-for-you snacking space, there’s still a big gap in what is actually good for you and what’s out there,” said Sorrosa.
The story of Fresh Bellies
First operating primarily as a baby food vendor, it was Fresh Bellies’ line of snacks that propelled the company further into the spotlight.
The company was originally founded in 2016. By the end of last year, Fresh Bellies products could be found in over 4,500 stores.
Today, Sorrosa is a New York-based, Latina entrepreneur in addition to Fresh Bellies’ CEO. Also a mother, she knows the importance of introducing a healthy diet to children.
Born and raised in Ecuador, where she lived until age 17, Sorrosa is the daughter of a banana farmer and agricultural entrepreneur.
After some time employed by a PR firm, Sorrosa would work as an NBA executive: calling the position a dream of sorts.
However, Sorrosa’s time in the NBA would end. She quit to focus on motherhood, but also to pursue Fresh Bellies.
Shortly after, Sorrosa appeared on the tenth season of ABC's Shark Tank as an ambassador for her brand. The episode originally aired in early 2019.
Fresh Bellies’ goal is to train kids' palates, teaching kids to love naturally savory foods. The brand is now ranked within the top five brands of natural toddler snacks in the country.
“As we’re looking to innovate, we really wanna focus on these [qualities] of no added sugars, low-sodium, nutritious, and tasty,” said Sorrosa.