March 9, 2009

an elephantjournal.com report: Natural Products Expo West ~ Sunday ~ via Claire Burstein

Sunday March 8th: my third day attending Natural Products Expo West. Click here for Saturday. Click here for Friday.

I decided to begin in the basement, having heard that all the really new companies were located there.  It was quite a bit less crowded than what I’d experienced on the main showroom floor. That was fine with me, as I had a full four hours ahead of me.

In the interest of time (and my need for zzzzzzzz), I am going to briefly mention most of the companies that I happened upon in my explorations today. In the name of simplification, I’ll group them together in clear categories.

The first category is savory food.  Delicious Living had a booth where they were handing out samples of Tasty Bite’s Madras Lentils, one of my favorite staples from Trader Joe’s.  Their pouches are easy to heat in boiling water and great to take for camping trips, according to representative Marcus Odor. 

Conte’s Pasta was giving out samples of their wheat-free, gluten-free pasta, which tasted surprisingly good.  Gluten-free seemed to be a major theme at this particular event, and my friends with Celiac’s disease would have been very pleased with the turnout

Twin Hens had samplings of their tasty chicken pot pie.  Although saltier than I normally prefer, I appreciated their “artisan comfort food”.  Linda Twining, chef and co-founder, told me that their mission is to change the frozen food industry since frozen food is generally cheap and low quality. 

Wild Thymes, which is on my list of favorite company names, had crackers and cream cheese to go with their array of savory and sweet spreads. 

Pitter Patties, another of my favorite names, was introducing their newest product, Viva Vegan, an “all-natural mini-casserole with quinoa, legumes and veggies.”  Noteable points for vegans, their Viva Vegan patties are a “good source of protein, vitamin A, iron and fiber.”  As the name suggests, Pitter Patties are geared towards kids.  Although they had less salt than I would prefer, I did enjoy the samples and understand the importance of a lower sodium diet for kids.  They cover a variety of dietary needs, which shows their versatility

Since I’ve mentioned salt so much, I’ll tell you about HimalaSalt’s booth, which caught my as one of the most visually appealing displays.  Stonewall Kitchen is another pick in that category.  Unfortunately, my digital camera is currently disarmed, but I did get a picture of each display with a regular camera and I’ll insert those soon.

Organic Creamery had cubes of creamy cheese to hand out along with a recipe collection.  Great marketing!

Honest Earth’s display caught my attention by using a plastic bag to line their crockpot of instant garlic mashed potatoes.  I’m glad that I spoke up about my concern regarding leaching because I learned a lot about their product and committment to sustainability.  More on that later.  In fairness, hygiene was their main concern at this event and the reason for the plastic bag liners. 

Living Intentions was featuring their “sprouted nut blends” line, cleverly called “Gone Nuts”.  It’s a great option for raw foodists. 

On to beverages, Teatulia impressed me with their commitment to social and environmental sustainability.

Harney & Sons was generous in giving out bottles of their organic juice drink.  Thinking that it was mostly juice, I was disappointed to find that it was mostly sugar and water when I looked at the label later on. 

Honest Tea rep., Felipe DeMarco, shared his enthusiasm for working with a company that really cares about the community.  After recent wildfires in L.A. county, Whole Foods adopted a few families affected and, with Honest Tea’s help, was able to raise over $1500 worth of food alone for each family.  Felipe showed me a shopping bag put together by Terracycle with used Honest Kids pouches, and example of “upcycling”. 

When questioned about his experience at the show, Bossa Nova sales rep, Mike Steele, said “it was phenomenal.  We were concerned about the economy.  It looked like there were a lot less independent retailers (this time).”  They set up a satellite sampling station in addition to the main station, to draw in newcomers.  According to Mike, their mission is to deliver on the value of the fruit.  One bottle of their acerola juice with mango has as much vitamin C as fifteen oranges! 

On to desserts, Naturally Nora tempted me with a platter of cupcakes.  Having recently become aware of the many additives and preservatives in traditional cake mixes, I was pleased to come accross a tasty alternative made of substance and far fewer ingredients, all of them easily recognizable. 

I got one of the last samples available at Three Seasons Gourmet.  I remembered the flourless chocolate souflet from Friday.  It is divine! 

Speaking of divinity, Chocoholics Divine Desserts had a board game on display called Strip Chocolate, involving dice, pawn pieces and Chocoholics Body Frosting.  Dare I introduce this to my Friday night board games group?  That would make for an interesting game night! 

As for non-food items, I saw recycled content brooms from Dinuba. There were soy candles and other essential oil home fragrance products from Aroma Naturals.  They are a refreshing change from synthetically scented indoor air quality poluters.

I gathered my courage and went in for a chat with Tom’s of Maine sales rep Laura Scheel to show her my mild critique of the company, and to ask about freelance writing opportunities. After reading the article, she said that it was entertaining and fair.  Thanks Laura! 

Eco Bags has been around for twenty years and their canvas bags can be custom printed.  Owner Sharon Rowe was recently featured in Glamour Magazine’s article “Real Stories: 70 New Reasons to Live Green”.  Way to go, Sharon! 

Okay, I think that’s most of it.  Admittedly, my brain needs a break!  I was barely able to talk at the end of the event.  It takes quite a lot to render me speechless, but three days of activity and stimulation was enough!  I enjoyed being at Natural Products Expo West—it’s fun, informative and enlightening.  A digital camera would have been handy. Next time…

In my final write-up, I will include pictures and weblinks to the companies mentioned.  Thanks for reading!


Claire Burstein is a California-based writer, environmental advocate and feng shui consultant.  She is whimsically named “the feng shui fairy”.  Her other writings and info about her services can be found at www.thefengshuifairy.com.


For elephantjournal.com’s report on Natural Products Expo East, click here.

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