Health Foodie Heaven
by Christina Meyer-Jax, Tastemaker in Residence
We all have our happy places. These typically are locations that inspire, comfort, or bring joy. A couple weeks ago, I found my new happy place…the Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, California. This annual convention draws over 60,000 attendees whose focus is bringing natural, organic, and healthy products and ideas from conception to reality. Yup pretty much a nutritionist foodie dream!
The movement towards healthy living is no longer a fad. It’s a feel good bandwagon, demonstrating we are trying to take control of our own health and quality of life. The natural products industry is expected to grow to $226 billion by 2018. With over 2,600 vendors displaying and sampling products, I can see why! I was both inspired and stuffed! No more excuses… you don’t need to sacrifice taste for healthy eating.
What were the buzz trends this year?
The health & wellness consumers. The healthy eating movement is spreading across all demographic groups. From millennial moms to maturing baby boomers, getting educated and making the right food choices is a key to creating a wellness legacy.
Convenience & Accessibility: My nutrition mantra is: “Good Food Matters, and Good Food Matters for Everyone”. Access to nutritious, clean food across multi-dimensional demographics was elevated in importance. There are many groups fighting the good fight to make healthy eating a reality for all Americans.
Labeling Transparency: Consumers want to know about their food and are demanding transparency in: food/product labels, claims and certifications, including non-GMO and organic.
Food tribes: The growing gluten-free, vegan, paleo and other special diet communities are fueling the healthy eating movement and changing the way people view food, community, and agriculture.
The future of personalized health: With nutrigenomic (the study of interactions between nutrients in our food and gene expression) advances and the rise of food intolerances and autoimmune diseases, we are learning that one person’s "medicine" is another’s "poison."
And what were the top products at the 2014 Expo? This was hard to choose! So many great start-up companies and leaders in the industry who all have a huge passion for improving health without giving up flavor!
Here are some of my favorites:
Way Better Snacks (http://gowaybetter.com/) Sprouted chips that are high on nutrition and flavor. For the chip-a-holic that I am, I can have my chips and eat them guilt free too!
Phoney Baloney’s Vegan Bacon (http://www.phoneybaloneys.com/) I’ve always said the toughest challenge for me to go vegan would be to not have my bacon. With this cool coconut flake flavored bacon, that may no longer be an obstacle.
Luvo (http://luvoinc.com/) As their tagline says, “Frozen Done Right”. Flavorful, healthy, and creative frozen solutions. With their new CEO, Christine Day (previously with lululemon and Starbucks) leading this cutting edge company look to enjoy good-for -you entrees, flatbreads, breakfast, and frozen desserts in the years ahead!
KIND Healthy Snacks (http://www.kindsnacks.com/) Who doesn’t need a healthy snack on the go? KIND Bars and granola are made with tasty ingredients you can see & pronounce, like nuts, fruits, honey and spices. We had a chance to try the new savory flavors (Thai, Smokey BBQ, Chipotle) that will be coming to stores soon. Mind blowing and awesome, just like their #kindawesome philanthropic campaign.
Vibrant Earth Juices (http://vibrantearthjuices.com/) Have you wanted to get the health benefits of juicing, but are not fired up about the hassle of doing it yourself? Now you can get freshly pressed, organic juices delivered to your door. My favorite product is a one day juice cleanse put together in a 6-pack container. No longer is a 6-pack of beverages bad for your health!
The conference was indeed a happy place filled with the solidarity that we need to take control of our health and our food system. Because good food matters and so does good people who make it happen!