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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
And Finally, the Friendly, the Funny and the Famous
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!