I woke up this morning with a smile on my face because I knew I’d be traveling down to Southern California for my annual trip to the Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, California. It’s hard to believe that the event has now grown into the largest food show in the world with over 67,000 attendees. This will be my 25th time attending, but I still get excited to seek out the latest and greatest natural and organic innovations from all over the world. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s on the agenda.
The Expo always kicks things off with the Organic Farming Research Foundation Luncheon, where industry leaders gather to celebrate and honor organic farmers. We will proudly have a Wild Oats table where we will talk directly with growers and producers on how we can help them add more acreage and increase their profits by going organic.
From there we’ll move on to the New Products Tent — an extravaganza of what’s new and exciting in fresh and perishable products. It’s like a Farmer’s Market where you get to taste and sample everything, including beer, wine, fresh smoothies and energy drinks. Any way you participate we’ll be energized as we move out of the tent and on to the Vitamin Angels Reception and the Organic Center VIP Dinner.
Vitamin Angels is an organization founded on the idea that with just a $0.25 dose of Vitamin A you can prevent a child in a developing country from disease. This organization is so special to me that I’ve served on the board for several years, and along with my partner, Amy Summers, have been passionately working to raise money to support this amazing group.
From there it will be on to the Organic Center VIP dinner. We started this dinner 12 years ago when Steve Demos, founder of Silk, agreed to let us fundraise for the Organic Center for Education and Promotion. This was a BIG deal back then. Walter Robb, Co-CEO of Whole Foods, was also a big supporter and together at our first dinner we launched Mission Organic.
The next morning we’ll be up bright and early with the Hidden Villa-sponsored thought leadership breakfast. We’ll take on issues like GMO’s and other hot topics in the organic industry. This year Arlin Wasserman from Changing Taste and Menus of Change: A Harvard and Culinary Institute of America Initiative will tell us how chefs can work to change the food system for the better. I can’t wait!
Then at 10 a.m. Friday morning the doors will open to everyone and the Expo will begin! Personally, I will be on the hunt to find the next big game-changing innovations, while also standing proud at the Wild Oats booth. I know I speak for everyone at Wild Oats when I say we couldn’t be more excited for this event. Check back next week for a full recap of the all the organic festivities!