Expo East convention center

Staffers David, Casey and Paul attended Natural Products Expo East with me (Debra).

Expo East is a large natural products trade show, which was held this year, in Baltimore. We had a wonderful time along with the 29,000 other attendees. (Compare this show to Expo West in Anaheim, CA with 89,000 attendees last year, and you’ll realize that this was a baby show!) But we were busy bees and came home jazzed up by conversations with other stores, new companies, old companies we’ve worked with for years, and our trade associations.

I’m always curious to see what dominates the show. Will this be the year of chocolate? Or the year of CBD (it definitely was that this year)? This year there were tons of beverages, some innovative, and lots of bars.

The food trends were plant-based everything and cauliflower (again). While I love cauliflower steamed and doused with olive oil and sprinkled with flaky salt, others prefer it as cauli crackers and pretzels. Cauliflower as an ingredient is still rocking and rolling.

Plant-based was the mantra everywhere. You can tell how hot plant-based is by just looking at the stock of the new company, Beyond Meat, whose stock went up more than 500% in one day some months ago. None of us were investors (boo-hoo!). But, personally, I wonder, if you don’t want to eat meat, why pretend you’re eating meat by eating mish-mashed plants manufactured so they can masquerade and pretend to be burgers? It doesn’t make sense to me.

If everyone felt the way I do, it would put a lot of new little companies out of business.

I came home more revved up by mushrooms (dried, as drinks, supplements, and as an ingredient in food), which were in abundance this year, like last.

Once again, we found the neat Bass Brushes made from a vegetable fiber that felt terrific in the hand, looked psychedelic, will last for about 5 years, and sell for $6.99. We ordered them in bright colors, and when they come in, you’ll see them at the register.

We placed an order with the bottle company (Kleen Kanteen), that makes Adam’s favorite coffee bottle. He’s proud to show you how he can tilt it upside down and no coffee leaks. We found a beautiful glass blown humidifier that works wonderfully well with essential oils. We can’t wait for you to see these.

We were on the lookout for CBD beverages and candies with supplement fact labels because we can’t carry any CBD beverages and candies with nutrition fact labels as those, in Concord, are now against the law. We found a CBD caramel that meets the legal criteria, and which I thought was delish. Stay tuned!

We lined up some speakers for the store, artwork for windows, participants for our October 26th birthday party, and ordered products for stocking stuffers.

We hugged Belal, whose mission it is to provide traceable, high quality, sustainably-grown products like basmati rice, coconut sugar and Himalayan salt. His company, The Real Co., works with people with disabilities. Every product sold feeds a child in need. We met the fellows at Ayoba-Yo, who will also come to our birthday party this year. We found a kombucha we all went nuts about (Tribucha). Energy efficient cans, fun artwork, less sugar than other brands. We ordered those in. We also ordered dried fruit from a company called “Rind”. Their motto is “Keep It Real. Eat the Peel”. We all loved their dried kiwi, strawberries and more. We hope they’ll come to the party on Oct 26th!

We met the fine folks at Zephyr Foods whose hamburger is not only delicious, but comes from all the cuts of a single cow. We met folks from the oldest organic date company in the US, established in 1914 (certified organic since 2000). They are coming to our party with dates like the black abbada.

Casey said, “The amount of work that these companies put into setting up booths is insane! I saw a full-size peanut plant, leaves and all. There was a honey company that brought in some of their bees in a little window hive! One thing that I learned at a talk was that Pet is the biggest growing natural product category. That’s when Debra leaned over saying ‘Not in our store!’. I really hope we can expect to see more cat food, but a lot of what I saw was dog.”

And from Paul: “When looking back on our trip to Expo East in Baltimore, one could surely say we all had a grand time! Whether it was beaming through the brick harbor walkways with David and Casey on electric scooters, or roaming the floor of the giant convention center, we all were grateful to be there. The funniest part of the trip was when David and I both won “a years supply” of Cauliflower pizza, back to back! This involved a wheel of fortune type game that David and I hilariously won one after another.

A few of the items that stood out to me were as follows: The Lumineux teeth whitening strips, The Genius products (nootropic supplements for more acute mental functioning), and all the delicious mushroom jerky.

Another funny moment was visiting the psychic tea stand. I walked up to the vendor and introduced myself. The tea was branded as: “Psychic Tea: It Knows What You Need”. The tea itself was actually pretty good, I will add. I got a huge kick out of it. The man went on to explain that he was a naturopathic doctor and also used to be Jerry Garcia’s doctor. Surely this roused my interest but also a bit of skepticism. I was wearing my Moog sweater, and he also stated: “Oh yeah, and I also only work with musicians”. I looked down at my Moog sweater and said you must know I’m a musician to which he tenaciously tried to get all my contact info. I settled with hesitantly giving him my email and was on my way. Quite a funny interaction indeed, to say the least.

All in all it was a fantastic trip, and I think we all enjoyed one another’s company in the port city of Baltimore. It’s good to be back as well.