Well...where to start? First of all, while this show is mainly about food (there are a few token clothing booths), it's not the kind of food the average person eats every day. No, this show is mostly about the kind of food you impulse buy at Whole Foods or that comes in a gift basket you got from your boss. Also, it's sort of the antithesis of the local foods crowd: big companies, importers, exporters, etc.
The keynote speaker was Bobby Flay. I was unimpressed, especially when during the Q&A, he entirely dodged a question on food bans. Of course he did have to field some pretty ridiculous questions, including not one, but two not-so-skinny women, complaining about overuse of things like cream and lard , chiding him for not including more low fat foods on his shows. Rightfully, he pointed out that almost no one in this country is fat because of uncommon ingredients like duck lard.
Much of the show was simply overwhelming. At first I wanted to try everything, but I quickly became more selective. You can only stand so many mustard pretzel dips.
One of my first stops was Wholesome Sweetners. On the rare occasion I do bake, I like their rich organic fair-trade brown sugar. Their new raw honey was fantastic, unfortunately, when we asked why they weren't sourcing locally, they said that there were no organic beekeepers in the U.S. Hilarious, one of my companions was an organic beekeeper, and not the only one either.
These cute gummy bears were made with organic tapioca syrup and tasted much better than most vegan gummies.
At another booth I tried Goji berries, which were good, though I think the whole superfood thing is overhyped. That same booth also had yacon chips, made from a Peruvian tuber, which tasted more like melons than potatoes.
Some of the more unusual offerings came from the Japanese and Korean booths. A friendly Japanese businessman expounded on the benefits of the Maitake mushroom, showering us with packets of a maitake supplement. We were confused, but when I got home I looked it up and it seems like it has interesting properties. In the U.S. it is known as Hen of the Woods.
In other news: while I like kimchi, I don't think it's the next sushi.
I loved the truffles from The Tea Room, they were the best I'd had in a long time. The red raspberry rooibos was my favorite. The really really dark chocolate at Vere, was unusual, but people seemed to be flocking to their booth.
The only teas that pretty impressed me was from Great Lakes Tea and Spice. I really liked their peach white blend.
I tasted what seemed like a million dips, but the only memorable ones came from Herbal Delights.
The only clothing that caught my eye was from Synergy, simply because I had bought one of their dresses before and I love the way they fit.
The trends? It seems probiotics are in. Someone was even hawking a probiotic yogurt for dogs. My favorite was the Nancy's Kefir, though I wish they would offer whole milk kefir. Other trends seemed to include granola snacks and raw vegan items.
In the end though, I much prefer more local-food oriented food gatherings. Having ingested the equivelent of an entire Harry & David gift basket, I left the expo with a a nice capitalist stomach-ache.