Expo West is the premiere showcase for the natural food products industry. Included in that mix are nutraceuticals (natural supplements whose ingredients are derived from food), bottled healthy beverages such as coconut waters, bio-degradable dental products, clean candy, supplements disguised as candy, safe cleaning products, non-toxic cosmetics, spa products, organic beer and wine (my favorite), natural candles and more food that you can sample in one day. It is truly overwhelming and endless. In the three days of the event it is probably impossible to visit every booth. I’ve never done it. Approximately 56,000 people attended this year and I’m sure all walked away with a few handfuls of samples.
I strolled down the isles with my daughter Blu on the first day and on day two, Mike D’Ascanio – founder and CEO of Earth-List.com – whom I assist in outreach and business development. Bringing kids to this event is not uncommon and some of the youth-oriented vendors actually appreciate their feedback. My daughter freely gave her opinion and also managed to get samples that were only supposed to be for retailers. One of her best captures was a very “stylie” SIGG bottle. Yes they are now BPA free and the company is back on track to getting citizens off of the notion the water in plastic bottles is a safe and a healthy way of drinking water. If you want more information on water in plastic bottles I recommend seeing the documentary film, Tapped.
One of the coolest things about Expo West is seeing how many reusable bags you can collect. My daughter managed to get the coolest one from a company called Blue Q who makes reusable bags completely from recycled content. So that’s nothing new but these bags really stand out due to their artistic designs and integrity. They actually pay artists to do their thing. Imagine that? They also gave us a “Free Hugs” coin purse and we love that too!
While some of the companies are massive and you can tell by the size of their displays, location and how much food they serve, others are relatively new to the business and their stories are impressive. Better Life, a green cleaning products company, who began on the notion that cleaning products need to be safe for the environment, safe for the consumer and performance oriented. The co-founders and their families were tired of cleaning up after the mess left behind after cleaning up using conventional cleaners. They hired a chemist and stuck to the motto “Clean Happens” and made it happen.
Right across the isle was seasoned eco-hipster-way-of-life cleaning product line, Method. Their message: “Method Creates Products For People Against Dirty is not only catchy but proves that sustainability can also be “cool” (my favorite word in this blog post). Their new laundry detergent line is so cool from a design perspective that it fits right in with their primary retail outlet – Target’s – new fashion and decor addition, Liberty of London. Visit their website and be entertained with retro-pop jazz music against a colorful animation of their Cradle to Cradle approach to bottle, product and formula design. The liquid laundry detergent is not only non-toxic but also uses 36% less plastic than a conventional product offering the same amount of washes – 50 loads in the size of a soda bottle. This highly concentrated stuff really works. Thanks to a sample packet I just did a load and I’m loving the results.
One the food front, a few companies were in the running for the best hot food samples of the show. My all time favorite has to be Tasty Bites, who hires a chef to cook up some of the best Indian dishes that are premade. I’m hoping that the owner Ashok Vasudevan reads this and sends me a case of everything.
Coming up in a close second is WorldCatch — sustainable, wild-caught seafood dishes that are also ready made. Just heat and serve. Simply Yum!
For cold food, I couldn’t get enough of the hummus and chips made by Falafel Chips an organic chip company that make the best Falafel chips ever – bar none. Their hummus in a bottle, that can be used as a dressing or dip, is to die for. I hope these products find more outlets soon and I hope that the owner reads this and also sends me a case of everything. I want my hummus in a bottle….
We were also fond of a company called Nest Collective which is actually comprised of two companies that are here for the organic greater good of babies and students everywhere. Plum Organics is the leading brand of packaged organic baby food which comes in containers that are BPA free and contains no icky stuff. Revolution Foods is dedicated to changing the way our kids are eating at school. By supplying schools with natural and organic food choices, children will have better chances of avoiding obesity and staying healthy and smart. This is definitely a much needed revolution.
Another wonderful story comes from the owners of H2OM Water – pegged as “Water With Intention.” This wife and husband team had a revelation on their honeymoon to provide pure water with an exceptional message of peace, love, perfect health, prosperity, gratitude, will power and joy. Okay sounds like your typical hippie-yoga water. However, you may be surprised that this water has an eco-conscious footprint as well. It comes in plastic bottles but these bottles are made from 100% post consumer recycled plastic (R-PET) and the plastic is considered safe. That means no leaching. The water is award-winning and comes from one of the purest sources – the San Diego Mountains – a protected part of the 420,000 acre Cleveland National Forest.
Explorer’s Bounty is also a relatively new company on a mission to bring the finest organic food products to market and support organic farming practices around the globe. Some of their products include organic chocolate covered macadamia and other nuts and a variety of organic and shade grown coffees and teas, dried fruit and delicious and nutritious crackers. They even had a project to the visitors to their booth. We were given a bamboo dog stuffing kit complete with organic cotton and organic tote backpack to keep the pup happy. Great marketing for a wonderful company.
Well registration is already up for the 2011 Expo West and if you are a retailer, wellness practitioner or journalist the admission is free if you register in advance. I’m still recovering but it’s definitely worth the trek and nice to be in the company of so many like-minded individuals in one place at one time. Did I mention the food?