I went to the Natural Products Expo West this year for the first time. It was an epic couple days of eating and greeting people from all over the natural products world. Of course my focus was on the food zone, but they also had supplements, beauty products, clothing, and more.
At first the conference was definitely overwhelming. Thousands of people and hundreds of vendors (maybe a thousand?). By the end of the first day I had total snack overload. A variety of chips, crackers, chocolates, veggie burgers, pastas, juices, drinks, and pretty much any type of food you can think of. It was that weird feeling where you’ve been snacking all day so you are full, but you haven’t had an actual meal so you still feel like you need to eat. I opted for passing out.
Overall the show was amazing. Got to meet and learn about some of my favorite veggie brands and discover a lot of new products. My one complaint would be what gets defined as “natural”. I also think a lot of people confuse “natural” with “healthy” which is definitely not the case. There were a lot of products that were high in sugar or fat that were positioning themselves as healthy. Just because it comes from a natural source doesn’t mean you should eat shitloads of it.
I’m totally cool with a range of very good for you products to more indulgent products. I like to indulge as much as the next person. My issue is when these products are marketed as being a healthy part of your everyday diet as opposed to a nice treat once in a while.
There were a lot of interesting and passionate people I met at the show. Both attendees and the makers of some delicious products. I came away with an epic amount of product samples and information that I need to sift through. This is just a glimpse.
In a non-food related thing that happened, I got a picture with Biz Markie at the Zevia booth. Really upping my street cred.
If you don’t know Biz. Watch this classic:
My plan is to go through and give a short review of the products that I got. We’ll see how many I make it through. Here is the start. Pretty much all of these products are available (or soon will be) in Whole Foods. Some are at more standard grocery stores like Ralphs and Safeway or other “health food” stores like Sprouts and Mother’s.
Back to Nature: Crazy Bugs Mac N Cheese
This was pretty standard. It was just mac and cheese with a little more interesting texture because of the bug shapes. Probably great for the kids.
Then I added some sriracha and left over taco mixture (portobello, pumpkin seeds, grilled onion, homemade vegan bacon and beat greens chopped and sautéed) from the day before and things became much more exciting.
Dave’s Killer Bread
I’m a sucker for for whole grain breads with a bunch of nuts and seeds so this fit me perfectly. Love that it’s all organic as well, I don’t know that I’ve seen that before. Plus it has this sweet mustachioed dude rocking out on the front of the bread. How can you say no to that?!?
Royal Hawaiian Mango Pineapple Crunch
These were awesome! Crunchy, sweet with a little bit of salty. The pineapple was more of an aftertaste than the main component. This is not something I would keep at my house because it would be to dangerous for me. A great party snack, office snack or treat. Pay attention to that serving size :).
Justin’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
I’m not a sweets guy in general. However the peanut butter/chocolate combination is my favorite when I do indulge. I already knew that I loved these before the show. So delicious and refreshing to taste the real flavors as opposed to the overly processed and sugar infused Reese’s version. Highly recommend these.
Green Tea + C
Tastes pretty much like you would expect. A green tea flavored Emergen-c. Half the calories although it’s still really sweet because they use Stevia. If you don’t like the sweet fruit flavors of EmergenC then this might be a nice alternative.
OMG Blends Mocha Milk Latte
Very tasty. I really like that it recommends you drink it within three days. Shows that it’s fresh and not just acting fresh. It’s like an organic, more dynamic, healthier and vegan version of those Starbucks iced mocha things you see at gas stations and stores. It has more sugar than I would like with 16g per serving, but the fact that there is no added sugar and it has 8g of protein is pretty awesome. I actually couldn’t finish this in one sitting because it tasted too rich.