top of page

Zach Ben: How Bidii Baby Foods LLC Was Born



Zachariah “Zach” Ben is a sixth-generation farmer born and raised in Shiprock, New Mexico, where he lives with his two young children and his wife, Mary. They currently own and operate Bidii Baby Foods, LLC, a baby food business operating domestically on the Navajo Nation that evolved from inspiration to reconnect with traditional foods. This is their story. 


The Ben family established Bidii Baby Foods, inspired by their struggle to access fresh, local foods after the birth of their son in 2021. They were determined to find a solution while living in an area typically regarded as a food desert. "A lot of inspiration came from creating or developing one of the first traditional baby food lines," said Zach. He asked himself, “How can we reconnect our people to our own food and use that as a first food?” 


Being a Native producer, Zach analyzed the situation from an agricultural perspective, asking himself, “Why don't we do that ourselves? Why don't we accomplish this and do something in that direction?” He saw a need for nutritious first-food options for children from prenatal to five years old—a crucial time for nutritional development and building connections to foods that establish a person’s palate for life.


Bidii Baby Foods is exclusively made from Indigenous heritage seeds, including crops like Indian corn/maize, squash, beans, melons, and amaranth grain. Zach remembers his son taking the first bite of their creation, saying, “[It] confirmed a lot for us not only as parents but as farmers … confirmation that we need this for our communities.” The Ben family passionately believes that food is medicine and that breastmilk and ancestral foods are the best sources of nutrition for young children and future generations. 


Bidii Baby Foods is an Made/Produced by American Indians trademarked producer. The trademark protects Tribal producers and consumers from fake and falsely advertised Native-made products, and the AIF program provides domestic and international market access opportunities to Native producers.


“Programs and organizations like these standing behind Indigenous producers allows us to move forward in a direction that we did not know was possible,” said Zach. “With that, all we have to focus on is growing our crops with that love and understanding and that connection to our mother earth and father sky … These organizations provide those opportunities for us as Indigenous producers.”


The determination that brought Bidii Baby Foods to life is the same determination that Zach brought to the Native Farm Bill Coalition (NFBC) Indian Country Fly-In and Native Food Fair. In 2023, NFBC organized a series of fly-in events in Washington D.C. for Tribal leaders and Native producers to advocate for Farm Bill provisions that would increase opportunities for Tribes and Tribal producers to access critical U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs. Zach participated in the fly-in to impact policy and bring voice to issues affecting Indian Country. “It starts here, you know, representing here with our American leaders and being able to talk with their representatives from the House and representatives with the Senate, and being able to understand and learn for myself,” Zach said.


He underscored just how important the Native community means to him in his advocacy, saying, “I grew up farming on the Rez. I didn’t know what policies were or ... the amendments that needed to be made. I needed to be able to understand that literature and language. So I went out and I learned it so that way I can advocate for not only our future of our company and myself and my family, but also for understanding how this bill ... affects our producers there on the reservation who don't have that voice at the table.”

0 comments

Comments


bottom of page