Given its hippie roots, I tend to think of the whole natural products industry as being a bit left of center and definitely more creative than the conventional grocery biz. But with so much of natural going mainstream these days, many of the products I saw at the Natural Products Expo would not be out of place in a standard grocery store (most likely in the ever-expanding “natural” section).
That said, some of the newer trends and unique ingredient combinations will probably take a while if ever, to trickle down from natural foodies to mainstream consumers. And some products, especially those found in the NEXT Pavilion of the show (for first time exhibitors), were so unique you have to wonder if you’ll ever see them in a store. Here are a few highlights of the wild west of Expo West:
Yep, that’s right – the Cricket Bar from Chapul is made with real crickets! Why? Patrick Crowley, Chapul’s founder says that crickets convert grain and grass into edible protein as much as 10 times more efficiently than cows and pigs, making them a much more sustainable form of protein to feed the world. The dried crickets are ground into flour and mixed with organic date paste and other tasty ingredients like chocolate, coffee, peanut butter and coconut. I admit, it was hard to take the first bite, but the Aztec bar with dark chocolate, coffee and cayenne was delicious!
At first the idea of olive water sounded kind of gross – oil and water don’t mix, right? – but I decided to give it a try. Turns out it was light and surprisingly refreshing with a very light olive flavor. Olive water is a byproduct of the olive oil production process, and is sustainable because it’s a new use for something that would typically be tossed out. But why drink it? Apparently one bottle of Olive Water gets you all the nutrients of a 1/4 liter of extra virgin olive oil including a full days requirement of Vitamin C and 20% of your daily Vitamin E needs.
Of all the wild, new products at the show, this is one I most expect to find at my local co-op some day. Following demand for high-protein, energy bars without loads of sugar, Epic Bar is made with 100% grass fed meats, dehydrated fruits and nuts. Sadly, I missed the booth and didn’t get to try one of the 4 wild flavors – Bison with bacon & cranberry, Beef with habanero & cherry, Turkey with almond & cranberry and Lamb with currant & mint.
Hansen’s may not be a new brand of soda but they sure came out with a novel idea with their new Kale flavor. Doubting that it was possible to put the flavor of kale into a sweet drink, I just had to try it and you know what? – It actually does taste a bit like kale. But it also tastes like soda and clearly does not have any of kale’s health benefits. My guess is that this product will be gone within the year.
I didn’t see it or taste it but I did hear about it. Milk made from algae. We’ve got dairy alternatives from so many other sources and algae is healthy right, so why not? Will it become the next hot dairy alternative? Who knows.