I recently returned from Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim. It was a natural foods explosion! I have a bit of agoraphobia, so dealing with the crush of 50,000 people in one venue was a bit nerve wracking, to say the least.
That being said, I found many things to amuse me, despite what may have otherwise been crushing anxiety. Take this image for example -- we arrived at Expo early, so many of the vendors were still setting up their displays. The fact that they were behind glass bubbles made it feel like we were looking at a zoo exhibit -- don't feed the animals!
That amusement continued with cheesy experiences like hearing folk singers warble about the awesomeness of Larabars. Being sung to about a food product under a yellow sky and palm trees was surreal. Add to that the fact that I had to make myself very small to take this picture, and you begin to understand my experiences in SoCal.
Luckily, I spent most of my time in seminars, where evidently, the light was very green. I was a student for a long, long time, so it was close to my natural element. I learned fantastic, new things about QR codes, new trends in social networking, and how the Non-GMO Project is gaining momentum.
If only the crowds had stayed like this...
Plus, I got to look down at the participators below me, feeling safe and above it all (not really). The true crush of humanity was on the Floor, where vendors were hawking their wares. This was my first Expo, but I was told by my Charles (who was also there as the Patch's grocery manager extraordinaire) that the free samples were not like they used to be. Sadly, another indication of the current economy. Of the samples I got to experience, my favorite was a tie between a honey candy and Tanka Dogs -- omfg, if we had these in the store, I'd want hot dogs every day of the week. They were THAT GOOD. Mmmm... Tanka Dogs.
All in all, it was a good experience. I'm definitely not in love with Anaheim. I found the home of Disneyland to be dirty and depressing, full of desperate homeless people and outrageous prices for bad food. It was good to see people who really believed in what they were doing. I learned a lot in a handful of days, and while many people were there with green washed products, others were there with the real deal, trying to make a difference.
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