Due to the pandemic, the Natural Products Expo West was online the past two years. This year, Expo West returned to Anaheim at the beginning of March. The convention is a time for me to both maintain connections with my favorite brands in natural foods plus discover new businesses and products. Below are the most innovative discoveries I learned about at this year’s Expo West. The listings are a combination of new companies I discovered and long running sustainable food producers with new products.
Big Picture Foods
Olives are food I remember loving my entire life. As we’re seeing more regenerative products for all types of foods, Big Picture Foods produces olives plus peppers and capers which are grown organically and regeneratively. Additionally, their offerings are fermented in a mother brine over a period of several months. Big Picture Foods uses three simple ingredients of mineral water, sea salt, and organic kosher wine vinegar.
Blue Nest Beef
We’re seeing many meat sticks made with 100% grass fed beef. In addition to being grass fed, Blue Nest Beef works with the National Audobon Society to certify that their cattle is grazing bird friendly land. Blue Nest has been known for its beef and chicken boxes. At the 2022 Expo West, they introduced their BoboLinks beef sticks.
Country Archer has a wide variety of 100% grass fed beef jerky flavors. At the Expo, they introduced a number of new choices. What particularly caught my attention was a line called Zero Sugar. Beef jerky typically contains some type of sweetener. The sweetener can be cane sugar, coconut sugar, or honey. Country Archer now has an option for those looking to avoid sugar altogether. Country Archer’s Zero Sugar flavors come in regular, mustard BBQ, and spicy sesame garlic.
Crackers which use ancient grains as an alternative to conventional wheat aren’t anything new to the natural food world, but many of the current options don’t taste great. Flackers proves you can make delicious crackers without modern wheat. Flackers has been producing flax seed crackers for a while and now has crackers made with the ancient grain fonio along with flax seeds.
Chicken skins are one of the most underrated foods. They’re an excellent source of collagen, which we need more of in our diet. While I always buy chicken with the skin on and enjoy every bit of it, many are still afraid to eat the skin. Flock has a brilliant way of introducing chicken skin to the masses by turning them in to snack chips. And they are able to do this with using simply chicken skin and the salt. No starches or seed oils are need for Flock’s chicken skin crisps.
I’m all about natural sweeteners as a replacement for sugar. There are many options when it comes to natural sweeteners. Dates are an excellent choice, but it’s been hard find products made with them. Just Date Syrup offers date syrup and date sugar along with a pomegranate molasses. They also collaborate with Raaka to provide a chocolate bar sweetened with date sugar and molasses.
I love all kinds of jerky, so i was excited to try the tuna jerky from Pescavore. As their tuna is wild caught off the coast of California, that makes them appropriate pescavores. Their jerky comes in the flavors of island teriyaki, Caribbean jerk, and smokey poké.
Primal Kitchen has a wide variety of excellent sustainable food products. I always enjoy seeing them at shows and learning what new products they have. At the Winter Fancy Food Show, they told me about their recently launched dips in the flavors of ranch, buffalo ranch, and dairy free queso. Dips are a mostly untapped market in natural products, so I’m pleased to see Primal Kitchen offering some dips with clean ingredients.
I love salt. Probably more than I should as I can handle saltier foods than most. When I learned that we don’t incorporate enough salt in our diet, it made me even happier about my love of salt. One of my favorite sea salts, Redmond Real Salt, introduced an elctrolyte mix called Re-Lyte. Re-Lyte is great to take before working out. I got to sample the different varieties of it. My favorite is the strawberry lemonade flavor, which is being held up in the photo.
One of my most unique discoveries at this year’s Natural Products Expo West was the Upcycled Food Association. Along with the major issues facing our food systems such as pesticides and factory farming, food waste is a major problem. 108 billion pounds of food is wasted every year in the United States. This comes to about 40% of our food. The food goes directly into landfills. Upcycled works with food producers who prevent food waste by creating new, high quality products from surplus foods. This includes one of my favorites, TBJ Gourmet‘s Bacon Jam, which is being held up on the photo. Bacon works with every food I like, so Bacon Jam is perfect for to spread on all kinds of my favorite dishes.