March 12

Surviving Expo West

11  comments

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.


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  1. Those kinds of expos are a lot of fun. I’m not a big fan of government regulations, or ‘Big Pharma’s’ thinly veiled attempts to shut out all other options besides buying their most profitable drugs, but I’m also very wary of most of the literature one is invariably inundated with by supplement manufacturers. How do you tell the gems from the BS?
    Hi Bob–
    It takes a lot of effort to separate the wheat from the chaff.  I read all the literature that comes with any product I might consider using, then look up and read all the pertinent scientific studies.  It takes me two days to go through the expo and another two months to make sense out of everything I saw.
    You get presented with all kinds of stuff and all kinds of people all making fantastic claims.  One of the methods I use for immediate evaluation of these claims is to look at the claimer.  If someone is promising me eternal youth, good health, and weight loss, and the promiser looks like death warmed over and is fat to boot, I generally disregard the claims.  I try to keep an open mind when I’m at these kinds of conventions, but not so open that my brains fall out. 
    Cheers–
    MRE 

  2. Is it true that if you eat less than 20g of carbs per day that you not gain weight regardless of caloric intake? You seemed to have said something to that effect in your book.
    Hi Nick–
    I think it’s pretty hard to gain weight by keeping carb intake below 20 grams per day.  There may be some people who can gain weight do so, but not many.  It’s difficult to eat a ton of calories with carb intake set at or below 20 grams per day.
    Best–
    MRE

  3. FYI: Land’s End sells bamboo/cotton blend sheets and towels. So it is becoming quite mainstream.
    Cheers,
    Anna
    Hi Anna–
    Hmmm.  If it bamboo becomes too mainstream it won’t take long for the very tree huggers who are now championing them to turn on them.  I predict that the greenies will abandon bamboo in the near future.  They will discover that harvesting bamboo leads to destruction of the rain forest or something similar.  Mark my words.
    Cheers–
    MRE 

  4. Sounds to me like you should have taken a small suitcase with wheels to carry everything!
    Hi Tess–
    I had already figured that out.  What I can’t believe is that I didn’t remember how bad it was from years gone by and some kind of pull cart already. Just goes to show that I’m not nearly as smart as I look.
    Cheers–
    MRE 

  5. Hi, Dr. –
    I have tended to get my protein powder in the past from “bodybuilding” sights. They often refer to medical studies in the copious footnotes, but there is a lot of inconsistency there (cross-flow micro filtration vs. other types of processing; egg vs soy vs. casein vs…) Any chance you could do — or refer me to — a primer on the best cost vs. benefit for these powders?
    thx
    Hi Rick–
    I’ve learned the differences between all these variations in types of proteins and the different ways they are processed, but for whatever reason it never sticks in my head.  Every time I want to know the difference I have to relearn it all over again.  Next time I do, I’ll post on it so I won’t have to relearn it yet again.
    Cheers–
    MRE 

  6. I used to find those events fun but now I find them mostly annoying. There’s usually more BS flying than at the Texas state fair (or maybe the pres election campaign?). The good thing, I guess, is there are a few gems amongst the junk. People in the natural health field point fingers at Big Pharma (rightfully so) but there is much to be desired from an honesty and integrity standpoint in the natural health field. Dr. Mike, I’m sure you would agree. It would be funny to combine that event with the Arnold Classic (in Columbus, OH every Feb), which is the largest freak show in the world, IMHO. There’s enough silicone to make Microsoft jealous and more chemicals running through peoples veins than the employees at a Twinkie factory. Vegan man meets Cro-magnon woman. Hmmm, I should propose that to Vince McMahon.
    Anyway, as far as protein goes, have you ever tried Paleomeal from Designs For Health? It’s the only whey that doesn’t fly through me. (http://www.designsforhealth.com/paleomeal_van.html). You probably are aware of it already but I figured I’d throw my 5 cents in. After listening to Bob Rountree at the Boulderfest in which I heard you speak, I became fascinated with the Ig proteins. I found one called Nutragammax that is very cost-effective, mixes nice with other proteins and works great. I have had some good feedback from some bodybuilders who tell me how much better they recover compared to regular whey. Just a few thoughts.
    Robert
    Hi Robert–
    I’ve tried Paleomeal and I like it okay, it’s just a little too expensive I think.  I’ve never had any experience with Nutragammax so I can’t really comment on it.  I’ll keep my ear to the ground, though, and see what I can find out.
    Cheers–
    MRE 

  7. Can’t wait for your protein bars and shakes!
    Glad you had that great guide book huh? LOL
    I’ve gone to many medical shows, so I know what you mean about all the literature, samples, etc!!

  8. I was looking at Bamboo sheets and found Birch Sheets, made from birch bark… I think. Anyway, they’re the softest, silkiest most wonderful sheets I’ve ever owned. Whodathunkit?
    Whodathunkit indeed.  Be careful, though.  Birches can be hugged so you might find yourself in a confrontation with a greenie.  Bamboo is much less cuddly so you’ll probably be safer using it.
    Cheers–
    MRE 

  9. Dr Mike, the UK protein bars you spoke of, could you please name them for me, as I am in the UK it would be easier to buy them hear.
    Thank you
    Glenice
    Hi Glenice–
    The name of the bars is GoLower.  We like them because they don’t have sugar alcohols, no artificial sweeteners (sweetened with oligofructose), and no trans fats.  The bars have a tiny, tiny bit of sugar because, so the manufacturer tells us, the UK labeling laws are such that if you want to label something ‘chocolate’ you have to have some sugar in it.
    Let me know how you like them if you find them.
    Cheers–
    MRE 

  10. Oh my goodness. You were in my neck of the woods. I live about 5 miles from the convention center. Had I known you were in town, I would have gone.
    Maybe next year.
    Cheers–
    MRE 

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