Regarding the very helpful letter on alternatives to commercial baby foods, I wanted to add the widely-used practice sometimes called “baby-led weaning”. This consists of introducing a six-month or older child to larger chunks of soft foods that they can grab, manipulate, and gum on their own. The two keys to make this practice safe are that the chunks be too large to aspirate (perhaps the size of a large french fry), and soft enough for the baby to mash or dissolve with their tongue or gums.
Banana and avocado are often used as first foods in this method, but cooked sweet potato, carrot, apple, or other appropriate foods would also work well in a situation where imported foods are not available.
Since baby’s “chewing” and swallowing skills usually develop in tandem with their motor skills, this method actually reduces the chances of choking on spoon foods that can sometimes go down too quickly or be aspirated. It also reduces the need for special equipment or steps in pureeing foods, and it allows baby to feed themselves (with supervision, of course!) before they can handle utensils.
We used this method with both of our children, alongside conventional baby foods, and we all preferred it for simplicity and lower frustration for everyone! More information about baby-led weaning can be found at http://www.babyledweaning.com/