I returned from the Summer Fancy Food Show (held in Washington, D.C. earlier this month) a little fuller and lot more educated.
I had many “who knew” moments on the show floor this season.
The first was at the Flamous booth where my new friend, Sam Shehayeb, showed me a recent study that proved his fabulous falafel chips are high in antioxidants. Here I am devouring berries and green tea only to find out that I can be getting my daily dose of the free radical-fighting molecules from spicy, healthy bean-based chips.
The theory was confirmed at the Urban Accents booth where I learned about spice blending and that I don’t actually have to do it myself because this company brilliantly blends spices into magic in the kitchen.
I learned a thing or two about chai blends, as well. A huge a fan of the calming garam masala spices myself, I spent time sipping Chai tea at the Third Street brand’s booth. Third Street was one of the first companies to introduce Americans to this Indian classic. It’s a good, clean blend and healthy for you too.
My nose for exotic flavors led me to discover foods from the Philippines. Ramar is a family business that has been supplying the Philippine community with foods from home for decades, but I think their breakout products are their fruit purees. I almost walked right past their Magnolia ice cream booth thinking the bright purple ice cream was filled with artificial color only to learn that is actually macapuno ice cream infused with sweet purple yam.
My visit there opened my eyes to other ice cream companies exhibiting at the show. I’ve been loving Yonanas – a new machine that turns bananas and other fruits and vegetables into creamy, guilt-free, good-for-you chilled thrills. I got talking to the owner of G&S Gelato, who is living the American dream and a healthy lifestyle that includes eating gelato every day. They are launching a new artisan; ready-to-pour frozen yogurt called Yogurtiamo that they promise will give me sufficient concentration of probiotics.
In the dairy category, I learned that fresh mozzarella is the most popular during summer months because it’s actually a very light and cooling snack and topper. Calabro, a 60-year-old Connecticut-based company makes Italian cheese better than the Italians and, according the company’s cheese monger, Morena Febbo, fresh mozzarella is good for you too. I also discovered that you can eat your cheese in your crackers, not just on them. Kitchen Tablebakers creates crisps made entirely of Parmesan that are wheat-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, rich in calcium and protein and low in carbs and calories. What more could I ask for?
Coconut was another star of the show. I drink coconut water very seriously and have been adding it to my smoothies for decades, but I was amazed at what Kelapo was able to do with coconut oil. Its packaging is great and I’m anticipating new and innovative products to come from this brand.
There was another new type of packaging on the show floor – packaging for cooking. Whenever I see papillotte on the menu, I order it because I believe it’s better for me. PaperChef is a new must-have accessory for healthy cooking that helps keep calories in check. Cooking in PaperChef’s Culinary Parchment (en papillote) is trendy, innovative, easy to clean, healthy and great way to lock in flavor.
Another new innovative product at the show that dazzled me was Oloves, olives you can snack on. These deli-style flavored olives are packed without pits or liquid in ready-to-eat packages that give you 50 calories of savory flavor and punch while on-the-go. A favorite in the UK and an alternative to nuts and chips on many airlines, I’m excited for this healthy snack to make a splash in the US.
But the show stopper for everyone was Back-To-The-Root – a grow-it-yourself garden of pearl oyster mushrooms. You don’t even have to take it out of the box. Even if you can’t keep house plants alive you can mist this pre-packed box in coffee grinds and grow a crop of edible, gourmet mushrooms.
I was pleasantly surprised by all the do-gooders in the industry, domestic and overseas.
Root Cellar Preserves offers a wide variety of pickles and it’s also keeping American traditions alive by restoring historic homesteads that serve as steadfast reminders of our country’s rich history.
Teatulia makes my favorite Lemongrass tea and they also have a cow-lending program that has become a coveted source of income for Bangladeshi workers. Teatulia established a cooperative and this unique cattle-lending plan where local workers borrow cows, instead of the more common microfinance loans, in exchange for their work maintaining the garden. Members then pay back their loan through milk and cow dung, which is used as fertilizer in the tea garden. Teatulia sells its single-garden direct line of organic loose-leaf teas at American and UK retailers ranging from Whole Foods to Harrods.
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Nancy Trent is a writer and speaker, a lifelong health nut, a globe-trotting trend watcher and the founder and president of Trent & Company, a New York-based marketing communications firm. Trent & Company grew out of Nancy’s personal commitment to helping people live longer and healthier lives. A former journalist for New York magazine, Nancy has written seven books on healthy lifestyles, serves on the editorial boards of several magazines and travels around the world speaking at conferences and trade shows on trends in the marketplace. She is a recognized expert in PR with more than 20 years of experience creating and managing highly successful campaigns. Nancy can be reached at (212) 966-0024 or through e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also visit www.trentandcompany.com.
Published on WholeFoods Magazine Online, July 28, 2011