The EXPO Experience

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Inner Harbor, Baltimore, MD

Inner Harbor, Baltimore, MD

EXPO East 2013..Highlights on the Natural Foods and Products Industry Biggest Trade Show

Every year we try and attend the Natural Products EXPO EAST at the Baltimore Convention Center near the Inner Harbor with a few of our family members. Being within driving distance to Baltimore, Maryland, it’s an easy enough trip to take. And well worth it. This September 26-28, I took two of our girls. These health food and products industry shows are phenomenal and are important yearly events for anyone in the world of naturals. Two years ago we were able to attend the EXPO West in Anaheim, California  Southern California For Under $30

Each year we have our challenges on where to stay ( due to us needing to be on a conservative budget and having to be resourceful..see our Southern California trip). This time around our generous friends from Harvest Market in Spotsylvania, Va. invited us to share a room with them at the hotel rooms they booked. Welcome to Harvest Market

Matt Davis and son of Harvest Market

Matt Davis and son of Harvest Market

Top Trends we noticed in food:

1. Just Say NO to GMO

This was a very noticeable theme throughout the whole Convention Center compared to last year. Genetically Modified Organisms ( aka Frankenfood ) is an alarming and unjust system that is growing in the USA. The film GMO OMG by Jeremy Seifert was screened with the film maker himself there to meet. Unfortunately we did not get to the screening to meet him. Many of the food company’s stressed that their products do not use GMO’s in their products. There is a big demand and debate about mandatory labeling on GMO’s.  Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm says “No” to have to have certified labeling..mainly due to more Government regulations, fees, oversight and involvement for the producer. He says “Yes”, it’s important for the producer let the consumer know that the foods they are feeding you have not been scientifically and unnaturally been altered and tampered with, but not having one more certification requirement added that is burdensome and not always economical for the business ( especially for a small business) to have to comply with . For now, it is sufficient to have the label ‘Non GMO Project Verified’. More on that issue in another blog when Joel Salatin and Dr. Mercola debate on this topic this November at the Wise Traditions Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

Just Say NO to GMO

Just Say NO to GMO

2. Dare to be, Gluten Free

This was a noticeably popular theme. Non glutenous foods. Many familiar company’s and new start ups all revolved around food products that contained no wheat. Rice, tapioca, potato, ancient teff, quinoa and taro ( cassava) were some of the replacement ingredients. It seemed that each booth we stopped at had the same mantra “non-gmo and gluten free”. Even food items that would not normally contain gluten ( fruit snacks, popcorn) touted being gluten free. Thankfully, no one in our family is gluten intolerant, so we do eat all things with wheat, but we know that many can not. I tasted many of the gluten free products and found one company that had the best tasting bread, in my opinion. If you are not able to eat wheat breads, try out Silver Hills Bakery  Gluten Free | Silver Hills

Gluten Free with Great Taste

Gluten Free with Great Taste

3. Most Popular and Prolific

 Snacks all over the place

Popcorn in every dimension imaginable, Kale chips, Chia seeds incorporated into everything, and seaweed. Crunchy and salty snacks are my weakness and I was happily surprised when I found my newest crave, Half Pops. Halfpops . Somehow, and its’ a secret, they make this amazing halfway popped, popcorn. It’s partly popped, yet the kernels will not break your teeth. They produce them in a few different flavors. Kale chips, Chia infused ( and the Salba, ground chia made into chips)  and healthy seaweed snacks were ubiquitous at the Expo. Our girls actually loved the dried and flavored seaweed. Their favorite out of all they tasted came from SeaSnax  Welcome to SeaSnax . So if you would like to introduce your children to seaweed, tell them our kids recommend SeaSnax.

Half way Popped Half Pops

Half way Popped Half Pops

 As for drinks, Kombucha and Coconut Water were the most abundant

Kombucha ( fermented sweet tea ) came in many flavors and coconut water is still an important healthy drink on the market. We felt energized and revitalized by sampling a constant infusion of these two liquid offerings. A new take on Kombucha ( for us, at least ) was the Root Beer Kombucha. Good combination, for our tastes! Raw coconut water was popular also. It can be said that the liquid inside the nut of the coconut, has all the electrolytes that can supply the needs to anyone who is dehydrated.

The Many Flavors of Kombucha

The Many Flavors of Kombucha

Healthy Fast Food

Not all people have a farm to be able to obtain their fresh and healthful foods. Most folks work many hours, so it’s not always feasible to cook from scratch every night of the week.  Therefore, the need for convenience foods is a necessity for the average person. This years show had some truly delicious, ready prepared foods.  We ate our way through the two days at the EXPO, sampling as much as possible ( this was for our market research, mind you ). Really, we enjoyed the bite sized pieces of many of the vendors and tried to take note of what we loved the most. A company called CookSimple ( cooksimple – Healthy Home Cooking Made Simple.)  had a surprisingly good “Cowboy Chili” that came from a box. We met the creator of this health food company and he explained that most of us don’t have time to cook, or even know how. He came up with many recipes in a box that only take 30 minutes to make. In a step by step directional using illustrations, he said even the kids can prepare these meals.

CookSimple, Meals in a Box

CookSimple, Meals in a Box

There were many other delicious and healthy convenience food companies. It’s good to know that there are more nutritious choices these days than the typical tv dinners that taste horrible and are filled with chemicals and denatured ingredients. And thankfully, no one was touting diet foods..only healthy and natural.

4. The Underdogs

There were almost 400 new health food and product companies exhibiting. Some of our favorites were businesses that are close to home. Twin Oaks Community Foods Twin Oaks Tofu –. is an intentional- living commune that is about 45 minutes away from our home. They have the most incredible farm, all managed by the residents. They also are part of the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange ( propagating heirloom and organic seeds) Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, Saving the Past for the Future.  We typically do not like the taste and texture of tofu, but their pate recipes are an exception. Delicious mushroom and veggie tofu pates!

Twin Oaks Community Foods

Twin Oaks Community Foods

Twiggy’s Cupcake Diet. These super delicious, gluten free, sugar and fat free cupcakes are full of nutrition. Have your dessert with out the guilt! This company happens to be co-owned and created by a good friend of mine from back in High School. Such a great surprise to see her and her partner at the show. Their scrumptious baked goods come ready to eat or in a boxed mix so you can bake your own. They have been featured on the QVC channel in NYC and are a growing business. Have those cupcakes delivered to you!

Twiggy's Cupcake Diet

Twiggy’s Cupcake Diet

Another company that took us by surprise, was the Virginia First Tea Farm. This Mother and daughter team from Korea create all natural soaps and laundry detergent using organic green tea. They are actually in the process of growing tea in Virginia on their farm ( also not far from where we live)! It will be very interesting to watch and see how tea plants grow in the USA. They gave us a sample of their soap and it is wonderful. Looking forward to trying out their all natural laundry detergent and shampoos in the making.

Virginia First Tea Farm

Virginia First Tea Farm

And Finally, the Friendly, the Funny and the Famous

The Friendly

In the supplements section, we ran into a few friendly faces from our previous Expo experiences. Robert from MegaFoods, ( the company started by Dr. Andrew Weil  Andrew Weil, M.D. ), remembered us from the last few shows and greeted us to chat. The MegaFoods booth is set up beautifully and they give away a generous amount of supplement samples for all of the attendees to try. Robert originally hails from NY, so we had a bit in common.

Robert of MegaFood

Robert of MegaFood

We bumped into Elizabeth of Reserveage. at the Women in Naturals networking dinner event that was held outside on the terrace of the Convention Center. We had met her a few years previously and reconnected with her. Elizabeth is the sales rep for Reserveage in Florida and is so sweet and helpful.  Reserveage Organics is committed to promoting and supporting an organic way of life. They offer organic foods, supplements and products that provide optimum nourishment, naturally fostering good health, vibrancy and an overall sense of well-being. Elizabeth is down to earth and has a genuine and generous personality. We think she is a fabulous representative of this company.  It was great to spend time speaking with these wonderful exhibitors and overall, the whole show was filled with an environment of camaraderie. Everyone there had much in common, an enthusiastic interest in all things healthy and natural.

Elizabeth of Reserveage

Elizabeth of Reserveage

Each year we get to meet others from around the world ( exhibitors and attendees). Many countries and continents are represented, such as ; South America, the Philippines, Mexico, Belgium, Latvia, India and South Africa. We love to learn all about the indigenous foods of other regions from around the globe. While meandering around the show floor, we came across an appealing booth filled with pretty packaging of Henna hair products. Tatiana of Surya Brasil. kindly gave me a box of natural botanical henna dye. And it was interesting to see some of the Fair Trade companies such as Alaffia Certified Fair Trade, Handcrafted Shea Butter. Two years ago at Expo West, we had met the founder of this altruistic business for empowerment for the impoverished and disadvantaged in Togo, Africa. Olowo-n’djo Tchala realized the need to help his fellow country citizens and started this company to help alleviate the poverty in Togo by giving opportunities for the poor. They gather the local natural ingredients ( like Shea nuts ) needed to create the products, therefore making a sustainable program that benefits the Togo people.

Tatiana of Surya Brasil

Tatiana of Surya Brasil

Alaffia founder Olowo-n'djo

Alaffia founder Olowo-n’djo

The Famous

The ‘Bob’, of Bob’s Red Mill, was at his exhibit signing copies of his books. Yes, he’s a real person, and a very friendly one at that. We had met him last year and got a signed copy of one of his books about his company’s story. This year we got an autographed cookbook titled, ‘ The Power of Flour , Cooking with Non Traditional Flours’, by Tiffany Haugen . She uses  many of Bob’s Red Mill products in her recipes. I look forward to reading it and trying out the recipes.

Bob of Bob's Red Mill

Bob of Bob’s Red Mill

To the delight of our 17 year old daughter, a real Jet Pilot was at the Expo as an exhibitor. Lt. Col. Greg Anders, combat veteran with the U.S. Air Force is part owner of Fire Corn Popcorn. He spoke with our daughter and gave her a few patches, an autograph, and many bags of Fire Corn Popcorn.

Fighter Pilot and  Popcorn

Fighter Pilot and Popcorn

The Funny

There were quite a few outrageous company names and slogans. And the reason my girls wore the silly Viking hats throughout most of the trade show, was because Nordic Naturals  was giving away a $50 bill on the spot to anyone who was caught wearing it around the show floor. So guess who did not wear the hat and who won the money? Both of my girls each got the $50! I should have had mine on…

Here are some of the funny things we came upon.

"Holy ????"

“Holy ????”

The $50 Viking Hat

The $50 Viking Hat

Chia- Margarita Jello Shots

Chia- Margarita Jello Shots

'Kicking Aspartame'

‘Kicking Aspartame’

No Hidden Zombies

No Added Zombies

Until next year, here’s to good health!

See more photos of the Expo east on our facebook page Grow in Grace Farm.

Please leave a comment below to let us know if our market research trip was helpful to you!

3 responses »

  1. Pingback: Nordic Naturals Giveaway Contest and “Where Have We Been All Winter?” | Grow In Grace Farm

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