Simple Palate: Best (And Worst) In Show: Natural Products Expo West

Cielestia Calbay was like a kid in a candy store last week in Anaheim.

Written by: Cielestia Calbay

I’m a huge foodie, so wandering around the Natural Products Expo West last week was like being a kid in a candy store. Though it was challenging to visit every vendor covering more than 1 million square feet of exhibits, I walked away up-to-date on emerging trends and enough goodie bag swag to satisfy arm workouts for the week. Below is a recap of the some of the show’s most noteworthy products and the ones to breeze past by on your next shopping trip.

NutraVege by Ascenta
NutraVege by Ascent

BEST: Vegetarian Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet know how limited the choices are when it comes to getting omega-3 fatty acids. However, NutraVege by Ascenta is on the verge of changing this with its Echium-based product. Echium is a plant noted for its high levels of stearidonic acid which is reported to be more effective) than the alpha linolenic acid found in flax seeds.


Sweet Tree Farms Organic Coconut Sugar
Sweet Tree Farms Organic Coconut Sugar




I love coconut – and that’s an understatement. Coconut was EVERYWHERE at this year’s show and was abundant and new and outrageous products that had me on a tropical high. Of particular note are Earth Balance, who unveiled its Organic Coconut Spread which offers an affordable way to incorporate coconut oil into your diet and Big Tree Farms with its SweetTree Organic Coconut Sugar – a great alternative to other natural sweetners like agave.


Yo Drops Crunchable Yogurt
Yo Drops Crunchable Yogurt



WORST: Crunchable Yogurt

Enough said. Don’t let its whimsical packaging fool you. Opening a bag of Yo-Drops was like opening a bag of the packaging peanut remnants from that UPS package. Unless you’re a hamster, skip the yogurt drops.


Avitae Caffeine Water
Avitae Caffeine Water



Caffeine and water should not be in the same sentence. I wouldn’t want anything to take strip away the benefits of having by usual eight glasses, but Avitae caffeinated water might. Don’t let the zero-driven nutrition label fool you. It may not contain artificial flavors or coloring, but it still contains 45 ml of caffeine. If you’re going to mix caffeine and water, opt for your usual tea bag – at least you’ll be getting the antioxidant benefits.


Seventh Generation's Paper Bottle Detergent
Seventh Generation’s Paper Bottle Detergent



HONORABLE MENTION: Paper Bottle Detergent

Seventh Generation takes the cake for reinventing detergent packaging with its Natural 4X Laundry Detergent in a paper bottle supplied by Ecologic Brands. The bottle is said to use 66 percent less plastic than a typical 100-oz laundry bottle and is also completely recyclable.

Favorite Beverage Sample: Chia Vie Superfruit Smoothie

Favorite Entrée Sample: Amy’s Palak Paneer with basmati rice

Favorite Dessert Sample: Cakeheads Artisan Whoopie Pies Cookie Sandwiches


Cielestia Calbay is the associate editor of Competitor Magazine. If she’s not at the office, you’ll probably find her outdoors or scouring the area for the nearest juice bar. She can be reached or @ccalbay

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