The picture above show one of the bags of samples I collected from the Natural Products Expo in Anaheim. Driving home with it in my car was one of the more dangerous driving experiences I’ve had recently. Some folks seemed to be collecting enough to furnish an earthquake kit for a family of ten.
I attended the first ExpoWest in 1981. According to their Fast Facts sheet I was one of 3000 who attended that first year. I remember a sparsely filled convention center with homemade booths serving different versions of hemp, the plant. And herbal tea. Lots of herbal tea. By last year there were nearly as many companies exhibiting and over 67,000 attendees. And the products on display? Well we are well into the age of processed “natural”. At first I resisted the desire to grab samples, but quickly realized that my prudishness was preventing me from getting The Mom perfect size packages of favorite snack food. White Cheddar Popcorn! Bite-Size Cheddar Cracker Sandwiches! Caramel Corn with Cheese! Pretzel Thins! Thank goodness there was actual food hidden amongst the packaged goods. Eden Foods was serving mochi heated in a waffle iron, a genius idea by the way, topped with a spread of Grape Butter. I was told that each little jar has two pounds of grapes. Local ice cream favorites Cool Haus and McConnell’s were there. But it was the beauty and self-care aisles that blew me away. The lonely rock deodorant booth of that first year has exploded into aisles and aisles of make-up, personal care, laundry and cleaning products.
Mark Bittman was the keynote speaker. He took the opportunity to bring the “natural” conversation back to basics. Gluten-Free products were everywhere.
I didn’t attend the keynote so was following the happenings on Twitter
I loved this quote given the recent information that US consumers now spend more on food in restaurants and bars than at grocery stores.
And this reality check:
And his closing line: