Friday, March 20, 2015

Natural Products Expo West 2015 Hosts 70K Smilers

Attending Expo West was a highly awaited year long promoted event. Therefore, you don't just stroll through without a plan at a massive industry natural products trade show such as Expo West. This year it held over 70,000 attendees whom all seek the same mission - introducing, seeking or analyzing manufacturers, services and/or networking with leading natural industry professionals. 

My objectives included the review of new and existing products that provide gluten-free and other health claims. It was nearly 70/30 in favor of some form of gluten-free verifications.  The 30% were told they need to add more transparency by proving on some level via independent regular batch testing for gluten-free transpareny.  Remember, sourcing gluten-free ingrdients are not enough my friends. Contamination can exist on the farm, through the supply chain and in your own kitchen even in a gluten free facility. The  backbone of the gluten shopper community, Celiac Disease, contains loyal and smart shoppers who demand at least to prove your products are to FDA standards <20ppm, but in truth we all prefer more thorough tests <10ppm or <5ppm. Otherwise remove your gluten-free label.

Gluten-free disclaimers do nothing but

 prove your own ignorance.

That's where myself, and other food bloggers enter the scene and seeks out trends. For me it's always going to be rooted around gluten-free brands, partners and services who play in this industry, it's what I love to do!  I only support transparency and credibility to support my peers with Celiac Disease to prosper. The US consumer is still mislead everyday in the grocery store and especially at restaurants with disclaimers that are worthless, yet patrons oblige. It would be nice if our gluten-free community was more respected as it is in Italy. 

Serving gluten-free food in a contaminated toaster or oven 

has never been acceptable, especially 

not Expo West, Better4UFoods. 

Overall though, Expo West is such a treat!  It was fantastic to see more gluten-free brands  entering the space, except Better4UFoods contaminated pizza who glutened me and proved they were clueless in the gluten-free marketplace. This continues to dictate that some brands believe gluten free is a fad because unprofessional people enter the space. For the everyday gluten free shopper, brands still jump into the gluten-free market for profit only and some cannot even sample gluten free pizza without contamination risks. Better4UFoods mislead me by not even having a disclaimer on their table yet had multiple gluten free signs. Better4UFoods used the same toaster oven for all products as they contained gluten. Gluten-free means absolutely not gluten ingredients and no contamination risks. Shame on you Better4UFoods, that was low class ignorance. 

Healthy & Sustainable Food Trends

About 60 manufacturers will enter Best of West competition. I voted for three products that were gluten-free and delicious. As it ended up Justin's peanut butter cups stole the sow and won Best of West. They seemed awfully similar to SunCups sunflower butter cups. 

  • High Protein: Diverse sources of protein (whey and vegetable based) arise in various forms of food, such as Banza's chickpea pasta, o so good!
  • Lower Sugar: Stevia products continue to make a presence while other brands "try" to lower their sugar. Most Americans have 2x too much sugar.
  • The New Kale = Sunflowers: The sunflower greens and seeds are edible foods but only starting to pop up. Sunflowers are good source of protein, Vitamins E and B1, along with possibly reducing cardiovascular health, diabetes and much more. Sunflower butters can also be nut-free. And they can grow throughout the world and used as oils with edible greens as well. They're under produced in the west it seems with our obsession over peanuts here. As a treat, enjoy Sun Cups sunflower butter cups, they're super duper good! 
  • Reading Labels: Back to the fundamentals of reading and research new nutritional labels. You can't just replace food and think your new options with jazzy labels are simply better for you. It's time to analyze the protein, calories, sugar sourced ingredients before you put anything in your mouth. Don't skim a label just to eat it cuz it smells or tastes good.  It's also hard to trust anyone until you really do you homework. Non GMO is great, but if the company is still having farms use herbicides and pesticides then well ya know, committing to organic is a better option for your health.  Let's hope GMO will show up on labels soon.
  • Allergen-Free: Products from Namaste Foods and EnjoyLife are delicious. Also brands like 1-2-3 gluten free are involved in making fantastic foods for everyone including those with top 8 food allergies.
  • Chewing Gum: Gum is over a billion dollar category. Some brands are showing that they're trying harder such as PÜR. I support gum chewing because cleaning your teeth for a few minutes after a meal helps clean them well. I'd like to see more gluten-free claims backed up in the US market, such as Chicza, made of Mayan rainforest Chicozapote tree sap, and they told me they will continue to back up their GF claims in the USA. 
  • Health & Beauty GF certifications: Impressive brands such as MyChelle, Mineral Fusion and Renewable Beauty are verifying that gluten-free skin and hair care indeed is important and we should support them and others who provide well rounded gluten-free products and more.

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