I did it! I FINALLY made it to Expo West!
Two years in a row I secured a press pass, got everything all lined up, scheduled the time off . . . and then had to cancel my trip at the last minute. Two years in a row I missed my chance, but this year, I finally made it. EXPO!
For those of you unfamiliar, Expo West is the largest natural products convention in the world. It takes place annually at the Anaheim Convention Center, and sees over 70,000 people perusing the thousands of companies exhibiting their latest and greatest natural food, supplement, bath and body, and eco-lifestyle products.
But . . . mostly food.
It’s funny at Expo, trying to make sense of it all. I had this really interesting conversation with Tess (aka The Blender Girl) and Whitney (aka Eco Vegan Gal) and Cobi (aka Veggietorials) on the last afternoon of the conference. We had discovered these brand new potato chips that taste like chicken noodle soup (no lie, they literally taste like chicken noodle soup! But they’re vegan of course) and they were one of the best and unique things that any of us had tasted. But then we were reading the ingredients and, yeah, pretty bad. And Tess said something along the lines of “Yeah well, at Expo there’s sort of like, 2 different things going on. On the one hand you have the coolest, most cutting edge, most incredible food science innovation. And then on the other hand, you have all these exciting and incredibly healthy new products. But those are basically two totally separate things.”
And she’s right. And it got me thinking, as I drove myself and a trunk full of product samples, and also half of a 37 pound fresh jackfruit, 3 hours home to Santa Barbara.
What would my readers be interested in? Cutting edge food science innovation? (you guyssss the new cheeses are crazy, crazy I say! SO good. Daiya ready-made mac is what dreams are made of)
Or the most creative, most whole-foods-plant-based, absolute healthiest new foods? (like you guys, Miyoko’s Kitchen makes amazing artisan vegan cheeses using whole, natural ingredients and applying ancient, traditional cheesemaking techniques. And they’re SO good!)
And then I realized, that really, I – and my readers too I’m guessing – appreciate both. Because we believe in balance. Because we know that processed foods, though maybe not the healthiest, is also a wonderful treat that make veganism more accessible and more enjoyable. And we know that the healthiest foods are equally as important, to keep us nourished and strong and happy and vibrant. It’s all about balance, and embracing the entire spectrum of vegan options.
But no. For me, it’s just about integrity. A company that’s ethically intersectional, holistic, and truly eco-friendly. Not just vegan. Not just healthy. I want to witness the next level of food production, where everything is taken into account. That’s what’s important to me.
And I bet that’s important to you, too.
So this year I’m giving out three awards. #1 – for the Best Food Science Break-Through, #2 – for the Best New Healthy Option, and #3 – the Integrity Award.
1) Best Food Science Break-Through
I have eaten a lot of vegan cheesecake. A LOT. More than my share I’d say – raw, cooked, homemade, gourmet, at restaurants, tofu-based, cashew-based, and on and on. I adore cheesecake and before I went vegan it was probably one of my top 3 favorite desserts. And vegan cheesecake is okay, but it’s never been quite the same as the original. It’s always lacked that . . . I don’t know . . . tang? There’s a certain soury tart je ne sais quoi that vegan cheesecake has been missing . . . until now. And now, Daiya nailed it.
Daiya cheesecake drops in Whole Foods and health food stores across the nation, like ASAP. Like this week.
2) Best New Healthy Option
I was a little hesitant to pick these as my winner for “healthy option” because they contain sugar, but in the end I had to do it. These Hemp Heart Bites by Manitoba Harvest were simply my favorite, and I haven’t seen anything else like them out there. Just organic hulled hemp seeds with organic cane sugar, a bit of vanilla and a hint of sea salt.
THESE ARE SO TASTY. They’re kinda crunchy and kinda chewy. They remind me of a Bit-O-Honey or the inside of a Butterfinger, but of course they’re full of protein (10 grams per serving!) and healthy omega 3 fatty acids. These would be great for an after school kid snack . . .
3) Integrity Award
And finally, the winner of my “Integrity Award” goes to One Degree Organic Foods, for their organic, VEGANIC line of whole grain products: cereals, breads, flours, and seeds. Speaking with the folks at this booth was like a big bright breath of fresh air. These are good people, and they really care, and they’re really pushing the boundaries of sustainable food production.
Oh yeah, and they have chocolate rice crispies* so they WIN. (*by which I mean veganic sprouted brown rice crisps made with organic coconut sugar and organic cacao)
You can read more about this amazing company, and their amazing commitment to Integrity, here
And well, that about wraps it up for my 2015 Expo West report. It was a lot of work and a lot of fun, and I just can’t wait for next year!
And I’m sure you’ve seen all the bloggers recapping with all their highlights, so what about you guys – what products are YOU most excited about? Let me know in the comments below!
Oh and PS – Michelle from Vegan Break put together this adorable video => “Vegans Invade Expo”, and it’s funny to me how many times my blue hair pops up in the background. I definitely don’t blend in!
Also you can see Colleen Patrick-Goudreau creepin’ on my beer. Shenanigans!