The actress-turned-entrepreneur gets real about better baby food, back-to-school traditions, and her Insta-famous cooking show.
Josh Gross
| Credit: Josh Gross

Jennifer Garner has added plenty of accolades to her already-considerable résumé over the last year: She received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the summer, covered People magazine's Beautiful Issue in the spring, and became a bona fide Instagram star charming 6 million followers with saxophone solos, throwback photos, and the bedtime stories she reads to her pup, Birdie.

But there are two jobs she's focused on right now: getting three kids ready for the new school year and promoting Once Upon a Farm, the startup specializing in cold-pressed baby food where she is co-founder and chief brand officer. We chat with the actress-turned-entrepreneur about the budding company, balancing mom duties, and her back-to-school routine.

You joined the Once Upon a Farm team in 2017. What made you want to get involved?

I saw products that I would've used as a mom, that would've really solved a problem for me and other parents who are trying to work and get things done while feeding children and taking care of themselves. So many businesses out there feel redundant, but this one doesn't. It feels like this is the next iteration of healthy food for kids: all organic, no concentrates, no added sugars, no added flavors or colors. I wanted to be a part of it.

There's an influx of "natural foods" for babies and children these days. How do you think Once Upon a Farm stands out from the pack?

You can see the vibrant color. You see the texture. You can taste the produce, the fiber. There's just so much goodness there, compared to a pouch that's probably been sitting on a grocery-store shelf for as long as your child has been alive. The process that we use to cold-press is a new technology for baby food: We pick produce at its ripest and lock in the nutrients by basically putting the pressure of nine oceans on it, which squeezes out the bacteria. Our baby food can be in the fridge for months, but it's still fresh and full of vitamins.

Earlier this year, Once Upon a Farm became the first refrigerated organic baby-food brand to be available to families eligible for the USDA's Women, Infants, and Children Program (WIC). Why was that important to you?

Cofounder John Foraker and I were determined early on that our food not just be for kids in Santa Monica, California, or upscale neighborhoods in New York City. This is something that should feed all kids. We're WIC-eligible in four states—Florida, West Virginia, Vermont, and Connecticut—which means that parents can go to the grocery store and get their children the best possible nutrition.

We're officially in back-to-school season, which can be hectic for families. You have three young kids. How do you prep for the school year?

I take each of them school-supply shopping alone. There's usually ice cream involved. We'll make a run to our grocery store, and I'll ask, "Is there anything that you'd like to try at the top of the year?"

I like the whole process of talking about it. You're a team trying to tackle something nearly impossible, which is getting out of the house with everything you're supposed to have, dressed, sunscreen on, with lunch in hand.

Your Pretend Cooking Show is a hit with your Insta followers. Would you ever do an actual cooking show?

I'm in the kitchen a lot and I do love food, but I don't know that I have so much to offer. I like doing the Instagram show because it cracks me up and it's three minutes long. If it were a whole production, I don't know that I would be that helpful to people out there. We're all better off watching Rachael and the other professionals do their thing!

Speaking of Instagram, you're one of our favorite celebrity accounts. Who is your favorite celeb to follow on Instagram?

Tracee Ellis Ross cracks me up. I always love seeing cute Reese Witherspoon with her beautiful smile. Olivia Wilde is totally inspiring. Sarah Jessica Parker—you just feel like her buddy when you see what she's doing. I love the insight into all of these women whom I know or admire. It's a fun, new silly game we all get to play!