MD and I (and our able assistant Kristi) just got back from Expo West, the giant supplement and natural foods expo held every spring at the Anaheim Convention Center. It is a monstrous, poorly organized, trade show that almost defies description. And it is a must-attend event for anyone in the diet and nutrition business. Thus, our attendance.
Upon arriving at the show and checking in, the first thing to do is get out the guide book to all the exhibitors. Unfortunately, the guide book sucks. Whoever puts this thing together should be taken out and shot. It contains a wealth of information, but is so poorly laid out and indexed that it is virtually impossible to find whatever you’re looking for. It could be so much better with just a little bit of thought.
The whole show is laid out in a sort of organized way with all the supplement manufacturers in one section, the purveyors of beauty products in another, and the food folks yet somewhere else. The whole show has literally thousands of booths and takes up God only knows how much space. I do know that walking it with an bag growing ever heavier with the accumulation of literature and samples is a feat. You (at least we all were) are beaten down by the end of the day.
We always go to this show with some purpose in mind. In past years we have spoken, but this time we went to find products for our webstore, specifically a good protein powder. We get a multitude of emails through the site from people asking for a) the protein powder we used to use in our clinic or b) any good protein powder. The protein powder we used to use is no longer available. The company that made it quit making protein powders. We’ve tried to pry the recipe out of them, but they won’t provide it.
We met with a number of manufacturers and found a basic protein powder that meets all our requirements. In fact, the one we found and liked the best, far exceeds our minimum requirements. It has a bunch of potassium and magnesium in it along with some omega 3 fat and a host of other nutrients we feel are important. It tastes good when mixed only with water, and it mixes easily. The manufacturer is willing to tweak it to our specs and make some labeling changes (MD’s eagle eye spotted some labeling inconsistencies), so we’re going to give it a go. It should be available fairly soon.
I did a little totally non-scientific but interesting survey. There were probably 20 different booths selling vegan products and about the same number selling natural meat and nothing else. About 80 percent of the people working in the vegan booths were indistinguishable from normal humans; the other 20 percent looked like they had just walked in from the veggie porn model pages. All of the people–100 percent–working the natural meat booths were normal looking folks. What this says, I don’t know. I also did an obesity survey. About half the people working the vegan booths were overweight, a few extremely so, whereas only about 20 percent of those working the meat booths were overweight, and none were extremely so.
After all the heat I took in the comments about my dissing of bamboo sheets, I set out to find some. Believe it or not, there were no distributors there (at least that I could find–and I got no help from the %#&#* guidebook) of bamboo cloth. We found many folks selling products made from organic cotton, but none selling bamboo. I had given it up for a lost cause, when at last I found the only one at the show by sheer serendipity.
We’re always on the lookout for good protein bars, and MD found one she really liked a year or so ago, but it was only sold in the UK. The manufacturer told us that they were working on a deal to have it distributed through a US company. We couldn’t find this company anywhere at the show, but we finally noticed an addendum to the horrible guidebook that listed them. And we discovered to our horror that there was another giant part of the show located in the basement of the Convention Center. We rode the escalator down and found the booth. While MD was talking to the people there about the bars I look across the isle and saw the words ‘bamboo.’ I scuttled over and found the only site selling clothing made of bamboo. I talked to the very nice lady for a while and found out a lot about bamboo (assuming she knew what she was talking about.) She told me that all of her products were 70 percent bamboo and 30 percent organic cotton. She said 100 percent bamboo isn’t very stable (whatever that means) and that most people blend it with cotton. I felt of all the samples, and they felt soft and like they would be a pleasure to wear. (Maybe I was too quick in dissing bamboo sheets.) She told me that bamboo is about like cotton as far as wrinkling, ironing, and washing goes. I was sold. I’m on a quest now to purchase my first bamboo article of clothing. I’ll let you know what I buy.
I harvested a ton of literature on new nutritional products that I need to spend some time poring over. As I do, if I find anything of interest, I’ll be sure to report. As for now, I’m just glad I’m not trudging through the endless rows with bags growing ever heavier on my shoulders. Thank God this show is only once a year.
Surviving Expo West