Today I had the great pleasure of attending the Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore, MD. It’s an annual expo that comes to both the east and west coasts (as the name implies) once a year, and is basically a huge show of food, health, beauty, and cleaning products. I heard about it from my RD colleague Carlene of Healthfully Ever After – she has a great website and a similar food philosophy to me, so I knew it would be worthwhile, but I didn’t expect it to be so big! And it. Is. Huge.
There were hundreds of vendors, and I got to taste my way through the expo hall. The funny thing about the a “natural” expo is that there was every product you could imagine there…dairy-free ice cream next to sugar-free yogurt, vegan “meat” next to 100% organic beef…weight loss teas, allergen-free meal replacement shakes, lots of things sweetened with stevia and monk fruit, and MANY, many gluten-free products. Basically, any diet, fad, or lifestyle you subscribe to was represented – which just goes to show that “natural” doesn’t really mean much. But many of these products gain health halos by marketing the “natural” angle, and are little more than junk food in disguise.
To me, natural food means only whole food and spices as ingredients, minimal added sugar and fat (if any), and that vitamins and minerals are kept intact. One of the products I was really impressed by was a cross between a curry and a salsa, and was based on sweet potatoes! And the name is catchy and fun: Yummy Yammy!
There were a few “plant your own” items, including this spicy baby arugula, and seed packets from an High Mowing, an organic provider.
Fage is one of my favorite greek yogurts – they strain the authentic way to thicken without added gums, pectins, or protein powders, and I got to try their new Passionfruit/Clementine flavor – pretty good, though I usually choose plain.
Then there were some non-food products, like this Bluapple Ethylene Gas Absorber, which keeps produce fresh for longer by absorbing the gas they give off as they ripen, which makes them go bad more quickly. Inexpensive and small, I’m excited to try one in my produce drawer!
AND a huge highlight was meeting Bob of Bob’s Red Mill…I’ve used the products, but never really thought Bob was actually the guy who started the company! He’s really nice, signed a cookbook for me and directed me to their website for recipes – I can’t wait to start experimenting!
I did accidentally (or not) slip into the skin and beauty products section – they had organic clothes, compostable notebooks, and accupressure mats…I snagged some bath salts and soaps to try too! There’s also this thing called a Squatty Potty (for a full review check out Holly’s post!), which is a stand that makes a toilet more ergonomic.
I also saw a couple of sessions – one about fatty acids, mood, satiety, and pain, and one by Mitzi Dulan about how to use Pinterest more efficiently. Watch out for me there – if you’re not already following, join me!
All in all, it was a great day – time to hit the hay, market mornings come early!