Last week I had the chance to go to The Natural Products Expo East 2018. After every event, I’m inspired by meeting so many people who are creating products that are safe for us and for the environment, they bring a fair profit, and serve a higher purpose.
During the show, I get to try out new products before they make it to the shelves. I have the honor of meeting resilient entrepreneurs that wear their business scars with pride. And if that wasn’t great already, I experience firsthand the Organic and Natural Products trends for the coming year.
In this post, I’ll summarize some highlights of the three-day journey through a survivor’s lens. I’ll talk about having options and products that have increased (or may increase) the quality of my life. And talk about how “yummy!” is back without sacrificing healthy. But regardless of how much I may rave about these companies, I highly encourage you to do your own research and see what works for your body, and your lifestyle. This is especially true if you are on any kind of treatment. Consulting with your doctor and your personal wellbeing board of directors is very important during medical procedures and recovery. Bottom line don’t take my excitement for truth, and always do your own homework.
Thursday morning, we started out at the New Products section. Companies that are launching innovations showcase their brand and give samples to buyers and industry influencers. Because it was going to be a long day, we searched, as if on a mission, for one of the best coffees in the show. This company is not a coffee producer but rather a dairy alternative macadamia nut drink called Milkadamia. Their slogan “Moo is Moot” is fitting when the creaminess of this milk slides down your palate. The texture is silky and smooth. The nutty flavor adds complexity and depth to any drink. It’s thanks to companies like this one that people who don’t digest dairy products well, have reconnected with coffee and cream. I simply love this product and love their social responsibility. Their barista formula was worth waiting a full year! They even came out with creamers that literally taste like melted ice-creme. At the Expo, you’ll find their friendly CEO mingling around the booth representing his company with pride. If you get him talking, he’ll tell you all about the free-range trees nourished by nature and the love of an Aussie farmer at the Jindilli family-owned farms. They won the Best of Show 2018 Veg World Magazine Prize – in their Best Non-Dairy Milk category. If you are interested in this product, they are at Wegmans, Whole Foods, Amazon, health foods stores, and natural markets.
You never know who you’ll run into at the conference. It was such an honor to greet the CEO and Co-Founder of Hungry Harvest – Evan Lutz (https://www.hungryharvest.net). He leads a team of self-less people who believe that “no produce should go to waste and no person should go hungry.” They are on a mission to end food waste and hunger in the US. Evan is an alumn of the public education system in Maryland. After his school years, he stayed local and went to University of Maryland. This young role model and his co-founder managed to close a Shark Tank deal with Robert Herjavec. You can read their blog on their website or follow them #hungryharvest. By September 2017, Hungry Harvest was delivering 64,000 pounds of ugly looking produce rescued from going uneaten (ugh, those ugly veggies!) and was donating 16,000 pounds of produce to local food desserts. Today, they are recovering 150,000 pounds of food a week, and have saved 9M lbs of food since the start of their business. This is another reason why I continue to attend #ExpoEast. The people you meet not only say they care, they have the courage to act on their ideals! Evan was kind enough to give my readers a $5 discount on their first purchase by using the DISCOUNT CODE: MPD
Continuing the ride on the innovation bandwagon, two companies stood out for me for their creativity and their thoughtful environmental responsibility.
Peloton Cascara Tea (https://drinkpeloton.com) – tea made from the skin of the coffee fruit. Yes, coffee is a fruit! They dry the skin and brew a tasty tea out of dehydrated skins. Allegedly Cascara (Spanish word for skin) is a great source of antioxidants but I’ll leave those claims to the science experts. For more information, you can visit their website and watch their video (#pelotoncoldbrew #drinkpeloton)
The other company was Asarasi (Https://Asarasi.com). CEO Adam Lazar, wanting to save the planet one drop at a time, is bottling organic sparkling water harvested from trees. More specifically, from the maple tree! Based on his research, only 3% of the saps that maple producers collect is utilized for syrup and maple products. The other 97% is discarded as waste. That’s how his idea came to life. By utilizing this “waste,” he developed a silky-smooth sparkling, tree-drawn water that is a very pleasing alternative to other sugar-loaded drinks. By adding a hint of flavor and a cool bottle, he developed a refreshing product that is 100% recyclable #asarasiwater.
Time passes by very fast as we are constantly walking, sampling, and talking to different people. Gluten free alternatives are stronger than I’ve ever seen them at this expo. Even the dairy-free cheese alternatives were sampled with gluten free pretzels. I felt I was in culinary Disneyland! I had multiple options to eat within my dairy and gluten free diet and they were simply delicious! I remember in the late 80’s when I started the veggie journey … how I wish I had these many yummy alternatives back then!
If you’ve ever attended a conference like this one, you know how much walking gets done. Despite wearing the comfy shoes, by 3:00 PM I start walking slowly as if my feet were 200-pound bricks. I start feeling every joint, every muscle and every follicle of hair. The internal conflict between missing out on booths or even on networking events, and just sitting down to rest intensifies as the minutes pass by my watch. I hear my internal monologue “just one more booth and I’ll sit down.” Once I’ve managed to convince myself to listen to my body, and I spot the perfect ledge to place my maximus … my sister pulls me in another direction – “Just one more booth!”
That’s how I came across another one of the highlights of the event: a natural pain-relieving gel called “Sore no More.” You can imagine what those words meant to me at that time. I had to fight the urge to not take all their samples and run away. Then again, I could barely walk. Mark and Lisa told me all about the product and how to use it. I may have glazed away as I started to fantasize my bedtime and what I would do before smothering my legs with this “magic gel.” Somehow, we managed to make it through the rest of the day. That night, a bit skeptical that anything would work, and thinking I might have to take it easier the following day, I took a hot shower. Before going to bed, I used the gel for my feet and ankles. The relief was instant. It may have been the menthol in the gel, or the self-massage, or everything I did to relax – I’m not sure. The following day I was rested and ready to walk for eight more hours. BTW, I understand that some cancer patients have used this product as complementary to their chemo treatment to take that edge (nausea) away. However, I don’t talk by experience here – on this point, I’m just the messenger. This product can be purchase at your local health food store or natural market. Their website is: http://sorenomoreUSA.com and you can find them in social media #sorenomore or @sorenomore.
The days blend into one another as the learning continues. Thankfully, I don’t have to remember all the products as there are plenty of giveaways and pamphlets to read and digest in the coming days – maybe months. Best of all, distributors like Unfi Wellness (www.unfi.com), service retailers in different states and regions of the country. They make natural products available in shelves near our homes #unfi. These days it’s so easy to find vitamins, gentle personal care products, sports nutrition products, plant-based supplements, anything-free options, and other products at our nearest natural market.
Another highlight of this Expo is Human Touch. If you’ve ever gotten a pedicure, you’ve probably sat on a comfortable chair that gives a nice back massage. Human Touch (#htfeelbetter) takes that massage to a whole different level. That chair massages, stretches muscles and joints, talks and sings to you, all at the same time. It’s an amazing piece of furniture. I’d get rid of my current furniture and replace it with this machine in a heartbeat, but it’s not inexpensive. If I were running an oncology organization though, I would buy a dozen chairs for patients’ caregivers to enjoy and take some stress off their backs. Cancer is stressful for everyone and anything we can do to help lower some of that anxiety is money well invested. For more information, visit their website at www.humantouch.com.
Towards the end of the conference, we stopped at one of my favorite companies: Hyalogic. They have multiple products in the skin care, supplements, and personal care categories. To my vegan friends … it is a plant based hyaluronic acid! My personal favorites are the Joint Support Synthovial Seven, Pure HA Face Serum, Hand and Body Lotion, and HA Facial Cream. But I’ll admit I haven’t tried them all. Every one of their skin care products I’ve tried feels to the skin like drinking a glass of fresh water on a hot summer day. The “ah” and soft sensation remains even after the product is washed away. I wish I had known of a similar option back when I went through cancer. My after-chemo and radio recovery left my skin a bit dry and sensitive. It was as if those harsh chemicals and the mild radiation had taken all the water from my cells. I can only imagine how Hyaluronic acid skin care products may have helped in my recovery or even as a supplement during treatment. But this is something I would definitely discuss with the docs as every case is unique. For more information about their “fountain of youth” products, you can visit their website at: https://www.hyalogic.com (@HyalogicHA #HyalogicHA) I can’t say enough about this company and what they stand for in restoring HA in our bodies as we age or even during recovery of harsh treatments.
Going back to relaxation and detox, this next company Westlab (https://westlab.us) (#westlabusa) sells premium quality pure mineral salts at great prices. It was first established in 2004 by one family’s mission to help manage their son’s eczema naturally and produced affordable high-quality magnesium-rich salts. Today it’s an international brand with presence in three different continents. As you can imagine, by the end of the show I was simply exhausted. I was so tired that it was hard to rest. I needed a detox with some Himalayan salt. A 30-minute soak in the tub with dimmed lights and soft relaxation music was the perfect ambiance to relax and restore from the three-day marathon-like event. It worked. That night I slept like a child and the following morning I woke up to exercise and ready to go to work.
It was another great experience at Expo East. Mostly because of the all the people I met, and because of all the lessons I learned. I simply cannot quantify the impact this industry has had on the quality of my life. The above mentions were the main highlights, I’ll be sharing more in future posts. At the end, the realization that I have so many options available that feel good and that are safe for me to consume has been life-changing. I feel included and valued. My preferences count to this growing market. My needs have a voice that makes a difference in our diverse world. The loneliness I’ve felt in the conventional isles has been replaced with gratitude to the trail blazers in the Natural Products industry. In turn, I contribute with my support, the comments in my blog, and the purchasing power of my selective wallet.
I can’t wait to try out the innovations in 2019!
M. Patricia Diaz