#ExpoProblems | Katie Proctor

I spent the last several days in Anaheim, CA for Natural Products Expo West learning everything there is to know about the natural and organic industry – from food to beauty products to supplements. Despite the many trade shows I’ve worked over the years, I still can’t bring myself to buy “trade show shoes”. I alternated between my new tennies and Toms, and my feet are still suffering.

It can be hard to stay healthy on the road, especially when you’re at a show where there are free food samples around every corner. If you ask me, it’s a bit outrageous that the Hilton was charging $14/day to use the exercise facility, so I squeezed in a hotel room workout the day we set up our booth, but that’s about it. I figured standing on my feet for 8 hours a day was good enough.

Here are five of my favorite finds from the show:

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1. Eco-friendly beauty/travel and lunch bags from Blue Avocado, designed in partnership with Lauren Conrad.

2. Nuttzo organic seven seed and nut butters. Each jar is packed with nutrition from peanuts, cashews, almonds, Brazilian nuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds and flaxseeds. There is even a peanut-free version for those with allergies that uses chia seeds and pumpkin seeds. The texture and flavor is amazing!

3. Milk and cheese from Clover Organic and Natural Farms. While only available in California, I was impressed by their commitments to sustainability and the conversation I had with their team about their flash pasteurization techniques vs. ultra heat (UHT) pasteurization used by most organic brands on store shelves that gives their products an insanely long shelf life until opened.

4. Jessica Alba’s line of non-toxic cleaning, bath & body and baby products, available through a monthly subscription with The Honest Company. Great products and even better branding!

5. I have always been a huge fan of LÄRABAR, and now I’m lucky enough to get to work for the same company. So I just have to share their new products, including über, a bar with bigger chunks of fruit and nuts, and ALT, a plant-based protein bar that doesn’t contain soy.

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Hanging out with Mitzi Dulan at Expo. She was my first mentor in the nutrition field and I interned with her when she was working with both the KC Chiefs and Royals. Got to see several other RD friends this weekend, too!

And a few other things that went down:

  • Whole Foods Market announced that by 2018, all products sold in its stores must indicate whether they contain genetically modified ingredients (or GMO’s). State-specific labeling initiatives were on the ballot in 2012 and again this year, so it will be interesting to see how this mandate plays out.
  • The Manzo’s of RHONJ fame made an appearance, likely for their black water project. I may or may not have followed them around the Marriott bar on Saturday night.
  • I was proud to see all of the Denver/Boulder companies at the show, since these Colorado cities are natural and organic food hubs. You may not be aware that Boulder even has its own industry-specific chamber of commerce, Naturally Boulder, that aims to solidify Boulder as the epicenter of the natural products industry.
  • Dinner with a view at Orange Hill, a night out at Disneyland and my first dining experience at In-N-Out Burger. I prefer my burger animal style off the not-so-secret menu, but I must admit the fries were totally underwhelming.

And I leave you with Justin Timberlake’s take on healthy eating. While I couldn’t find the full version with the final “Harlem Shake”, it’s still pretty awesome. Thank me later.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYWAoDYsE1o]