It is not uncommon for me to hear from a parent of a tube-fed child, “I talked to my child’s dietitian/doctor about doing a blenderized diet. The dietitian recommended a real food formula called Kate Farms. What do you think of this product?”
Kate Farms is another formula growing in popularity. Let me be clear about this. Kate Farms is not in any way a real food formula. It is one of multiple formulas that are posing as real food while not actually using real food. Like Nestle’s Compleat Pediatric and Abbott’s soon-to-be-released PediaSure Harvest, Kate Farms is a formula consisting of primarily sugar, and children consuming this formula will be consuming multiple times the recommended daily limit of sugar for children.
A single can of Kate Farms formula contains more sugar than a child is recommended to have in an entire day. After water, the first ingredient listed is a syrup blend of brown rice syrup and agave. Kate “Farms” gives the impression that it is full of food grown on farms. I have yet to come across a farm that grows brown rice syrup. Both brown rice syrup and agave have an extremely, extremely high glycemic index and should thus be consumed in extreme moderation (in fact, I would contend brown rice syrup shouldn’t even be consumed at all). These ingredients should most certainly not be the most abundant ingredients in your diet, but for a child living off Kate Farms, that is exactly what is happening.
Looking at the ingredients of Kate Farms, it can be seen that this formula contains an extremely small amount of actual real, nutritious food. If you look at Kate Farms’ advertising, they boast of all the fruits and vegetables their formula is supposedly loaded with.
The volume of real food ingredients in this formula are less than the volume of the synthetic vitamins. Think about that for a moment. Envision a Flinstones vitamin. It’s small, right? A can of Kate Farms contains a smaller volume of these foods they boast about than the volume of that tiny vitamin. No where anywhere in the world will you find a health, medical, or dietary organization recommending children consume a volume of fruits and vegetables equal to the size of a fingertip.
The ingredients alone are reason enough to stay away from this formula. However, there are even more reasons to avoid this company all together. I have personally witnessed Kate Farms engage in unethical and dishonest practices. When you’re making a product for consumption by children, there is no room for these practices whatsoever.
I have seen the founder of Kate Farms comment on many posts in various tube feeding groups on Facebook with comments such as, “I tried Kate Farms and loved it! I hear they are coming out with a new flavor soon!”
We are talking about an owner of a company posing as a satisfied customer. This is entirely unethical. I have yet to witness any other company use such strategies for advertising. It is highly unethical and comes from a place of deceit.
Further, as I am actively engaged in multiple Facebook groups relevant to tube feeding, I have seen many posts such as “Has anyone tried Kate Farms? I’m thinking about trying it. I love that it has all natural ingredients!” Regular group members don’t make posts like this. While I cannot make a definitive statement with proof like the statements I will be making below, it is near certain that Kate Farms has people make posts such as these to advertise their products. Again, I have never seen a company that makes enteral products engage in these kinds of practices. And this is not to mention that Kate Farms does not use all natural ingredients in the first place. So, yeah…double whammy.
Even worse, I have seen parents pose questions to Kate Farms regarding concerns about their extremely high sugar content. Kate Farms, without fail, replies with thestatement, “We use brown rice, which has a low glycemic index…” and gives some bizarre explanation about how agave and brown rice work together to prevent blood sugar spikes.
First, ingredients with a high glycemic index never provide an “offset” that improves the general healthfulness of a product as they are claiming.
Secondly, as you can see, Kate Farms claims they use whole brown rice. A simple review of their ingredient list shows whole brown rice is not used in their products in any quantity. Kate Farms uses brown rice syrup, which is entirely different than brown rice.
The CEO of Kate Farms reached out to me in efforts to convince me that they do indeed use whole brown rice in their formula. He was insistent. Yet, their own ingredient list determines these claims to be false. Shortly afterward, not surprisingly, Kate Farms blocked me from commenting on their advertising since I had been correcting their false statements based on their own ingredient list and calling them out.
As I’ve explained in other posts, the process of making brown rice syrup involves removing absolutely everything good from brown rice, leaving behind only its sugar, which is then concentrated into a syrup. Brown rice syrup, while it may sound healthful at a glance, has one of the highest glycemic indices of any ingredient in existence. Its glycemic index is substantially higher than that of table sugar. There are also concerns that the arsenic naturally found in brown rice may remain in the syrup. While the small amount of arsenic found in whole brown rice is nothing to worry about because you could never consume enough brown rice to consume toxic quantities of arsenic (you would get far too full first), concentrating that arsenic into a syrup is very concerning, especially for young children.
So, Kate Farms says they use brown rice, which has a low glycemic index when they actually use brown rice syrup, which has an extremely high glycemic index. This company tells blatant lies to consumers about the ingredients they use and the properties of their ingredients.
Mixing together an ingredient with an extremely high glycemic index, such as brown rice syrup, with another ingredient with an extremely high glycemic index, such as agave, does not magically create a product that does not spike blood sugar.
If you have read much on my blog at all, you’ll see I have a very strong dislike for Nestle Health Science due to its appallingly unethical practices. When it comes to Kate Farms, it seems that Nestle Health Science had a baby. It’s another formula with terrible ingredients falsely being marketed as real food when it is nothing of the sort.
The combination of terrible ingredients and severely unethical practices leads me to offer a resounding no to this product. Even if Kate Farms were to improve their ingredient list, there simply is not room for such dishonesty in the field of medicine or nutrition. There is a certain level of trust a company must earn before I’m willing to place one of their products into my son’s body. This company has burned its bridge with me.
Sadly, many doctors and dietitians are turning to marketing schemes rather than a true, critical evaluation of these products in their decision of whether to recommend enteral products to their patients and their patients’ families. The mother of a tube-fed child mentioned to me recently that her daughter’s GI doctor recommended Kate Farms instead of a blenderized diet, speaking rather excitedly about the product. The reason he gave for thinking so highly of the product was that he saw it on the cover of a GI Magazine.
Is this what things have come to? When it comes to tube-fed people, science and data are no longer relevant? Advertising and marketing schemes are the foundation of recommendations now? Magazines are trumping peer reviewed medical journals?
Dr. Michael Greger, founder of Nutrition Facts, says in his book, How Not to Die, “During my medical training, I was offered countless steak dinners and fancy perks by Big Pharma representatives, but not once did I get a call from Big Broccoli…the power foods to affect your health and longevity may never make it to the public: There’s little profit motive…As corrupting an influence as money is in medicine, it appears to me even worse in the field of nutrition, where it seems everyone has his or her own brand of snake-oil supplement or wonder gadget. Dogmas are entrenched and data too often cherry-picked to support preconceived notions…I thought the answer was to train the trainers, educate the profession…I’m realizing it may be more effective to empower individuals directly.”
Moms, dads, caregivers, and tubies, be empowered. More and more tubies and their families are realizing the magnificent power of a diet of real, whole foods. One blender full at a time, we are changing lives for our own children and setting an example that will change the lives of tubies everywhere.
*If you haven’t already done so, check out my new children’s book series, Foods that Grow from the Ground!