The actress is committed to good food for kids, from her own children to her new business, Once Upon a Farm.
On occasion, Oreos do enter the home of Jennifer Garner. Her and Ben Affleck’s kids, Violet, Seraphina, and Samuel, who range in age from 12 to 6, haven’t just heard tell of this “cookie” thing, what with their two chocolate wafers bookending a pad of cream filling. It’s just that having an Oreo in the house “would happen on such a special occasion that it would be such a moment,” Garner told Vanity Fair’s Krista Smith at the second annual Founders Fair on Thursday.
“Or if Ben is around, that might happen. And then he gets credit for it. And I want to be like, ‘I like Oreos, too! I’m fun, too!’”
Garner is talking cookies at Vanity Fair’s forum for women and entrepreneurial leadership because she believes she’s making something better for kids younger even than her own. She joined former Annie’s C.E.O. John Foraker at Once Upon a Farm, a cold-pressed baby and toddler foodery, as the chief brand officer in September. Find pouches of the fruit and vegetable blends in the refrigerator aisle of your local grocery store.
How we feed children is on her mind, and has been for a long time. “Obviously the best thing to do is to be able to make homemade, healthy food, and I did that for my kids,” she told Smith. “I steamed it and I ground it and I would go to the restaurant and sit there and grind it and do the whole thing.
“And that’s great. But it’s not easy and we’re all really busy. And for the times when you want to feed your kids something as rich and textured and tasty as you would make, this is the obvious answer.”
Garner’s commitment to the project isn’t just rooted in her children. She bought her family farm in Locust Grove, Oklahoma, from her uncle and hired him to grow organic products for Once Upon a Farm. She admits, “It’s a little bit about the marketing of it, the authenticity of this is my family. This is what I come from, I am a farmer’s daughter’s daughter. If you go to my house in California, you will see—and this is a very L.A. thing, it’s still part of me—but you’ll see seven beehives, and you’ll see seven chickens. (Except now it’s six chickens because we just lost one.) And you’ll see a little orchard and a bunch of blueberry bushes and a garden we eat out of every single day.”
When Garner is not farming (or making baby food, or working with Save the Children, or raising her own children, or finishing her workout before most people wake up), you can find her on a screen near you. Garner is making her return to TV for the first time since Alias in Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner’s sophomore HBO show, Camping. It’s slated to premiere in 2019.
“What I love about TV is the relationships,” she told Smith. “You go to work long enough with the same people that you actually go through the I love you. This is the most fun. I think I might hate you. Actually, no. I love you and I love you for good. And that’s family. That’s why people always say, ‘Oh, our TV show was a family.’ When you can’t get rid of the other people, you’re stuck with them no matter what, you see them at their best or at their worst. That is what TV means to me. So far I’m only in love with this cast. I’m sure we’ll stay that way.”
Garner’s return to television doesn’t mean that she’s neglecting her film career. She flexed her fighting muscles once again for Peppermint, a revenge tale that opens this fall. “It was so fun. I didn’t realize how much I missed it. I fought and fought and fought. It was so fun to force myself to get back into that kind of shape and to force myself to train the way that I had to train and to fight a lot of people.”
Turning to the audience, she made one recommendation: “It’s really good for you. It’s really good for the soul. You should definitely find a way to get aggression out.”
Garner was the last speaker of the day at Founders Fair, and in naturally elegant Garner fashion, she tied a bow on the entire event. “My main, favorite goal, and I know this is a goal that’s shared with the amazing team I work with, is to have the first organic W.I.C. option for babies. . . . Otherwise, as they always say ‘cause it sounds cool to all of you people, ‘We want to disrupt a category. We’re gonna disrupt a category! We’re going to be an integral— I can’t even remember all the words, but we’re gonna go disrupt.
“I don’t know what in the world they’re talking about. I grin and smile, but I’m learning. And that is part of the fun and joy of being part of starting a business, that my brain gets turned on in a whole new way, and I was hungry for that.”