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I’ve been going to the Expo for about seven years now. It was already a big convention when I began attending, but it has become a show of epic proportions. This speaks to the demand for natural and healthy products, and the financial rewards for having a popular product. That brings forth so much innovation. Every year the show seems to have a prominent theme. One year it was kale. You couldn’t walk a foot without being confronted by a giant cruciferous chip. Another year it was flavored water. When you have to pay someone to put maple syrup in your water you might want to have a reality check. Coconut. You would have thought it a new species invented in 2010.

This year we saw a proliferation of gluten-free chips, crackers and coconut ice cream.

I had the opportunity to attend a special CEO panel discussion with some big players in the natural products industry.

I learned that the Millennials are driving the market. This is the first generation that is consistently demanding organic. That’s exciting. I also learned that the fashion industry is responsible for 20% of fresh water pollution, half of that from dyes. 25% of pesticides are used on cotton and 95% of cotton is GMO. Time for us the read the labels on our clothing as well.

I was disturbed to hear that cleaning products are not required to label their ingredients and the toxic residues will stay on our dishes and glasses. It’s best to use products certified as safer choices by the EPA. I myself will stick with the tried and true choices like Dr. Bronners and Earth Friendly Products.

The cosmetic companies are also self-regulated and the last FDA regulation regarding ingredients was in 1932. Buyer beware.
Some exciting news is that mainstream stores and merchandisers are now offering more organic and healthy products. I met many vendors whose products were not only at Whole Foods and Sprouts, but Vons and Ralphs. Coca-Cola made a big bet on Aloe Gloe. Now this healthier drink will be available at 7-11 stores.

On a larger scale, regenerative farming is the latest and greatest, derived from how things were done long ago. Sustainable and good for the soil is good for the planet and for us. This is revolutionary.

Plant based foods represented 3.5 billion dollars in sales in 2016. Jackfruit, a ubiquitous crop in India and Southeast Asia is being introduced as a meat substitute with great taste and texture.

So much choice, so much innovation, such sore feet from walking around and around the Anaheim convention center.
On a less optimistic note, you still must read the labels on your organic health foods. I was offered a grass-fed yogurt with super fruits. After eating the little container, I read the package. 26 g of sugar! I went back to the booth and told them I could never recommend the product. They are working on it I was assured. How many consumers would read the label on a small organic yogurt?

I was given a sample of Amish pain reliever. Unpacking my samples I took a look at the little jar. Thought I might try a little. Looked at the label. Methyl parabens! An endocrine disruptor that has no place in this product. There was the all natural toothpaste with fluoride. I guess a toxic mineral that displaces our breast and thyroid friend iodine is natural, but deceiving.
We are making headway and moving forward, but we must remain vigilant, informed and responsible for our own health.
Soon, I’ll review one of my favorite topics. Natural deodorant.