From the East Coast and now to the West Coast…
It’s been a whirlwind week. First, I attended Expo West in Anaheim, CA. To start it off, there was a special organic pavilion/tent on Thursday (March 11) that was a lot of fun to see all the products (and sample quite a few too). It was especially great, since everything there was organic, unlike the Expo, where most is “natural”.
On Friday (through Sunday), the Expo featured thousands of exhibitors from around the world (Korea, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil to name a few). Though there was an organic section, many organic exhibitors chose to be placed throughout the other exhibits sections. What was striking was the number of flavoured water and fruit drinks, granola energy bars, and snack foods. Freeze-dried fruit was also very hot. For a natural/organic Expo, it feel challenging to find “healthy” and real food.
I think I can also safely say, that the new “it” packaging is the pouch with plastic top. In fact, the Canadian company Honey Bunny, won a new products award for their pouch products (certified organic honey, ketchup, BBQ sauce etc.). See their website here: www.honeybunny.ca
At the end of those three days, I was definitely done and ready to see something new, so we were off to San Francisco for a couple days. Food is alive in San Francisco (and I know it’s so much more outside of the city too). The Ferry Plaza farmers market is on three days a week: Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and it’s a lovely location right on the waterfront. There, I sampled organic dried fruit (persimmons, several varieties of apricots and plums) and ogled the beautiful greens and edible flowers (including lovely yellow kale flowers). The organic tamales also inspired me, and I’m going to try my hand at making them when I get home (I have some corn husks in the cupboard somewhere…).
The stores I toured included one owned by an organic farm, which included farm produce and purchased processed products to round out the offerings, to Trader Joes, to Bi-Rite (they have their own organic creamery with an amazing Earl Grey ice cream) to the famous Rainbow Grocery Co-operative. The later was the most impressive, in my opinion. It was packed full of people (and it wasn’t in the nicest of areas), but the selection and ethics behind it were awesome. The Rainbow is very active in supporting organics and farmers rights (they even close on March 31st every year for César Chávez Day), and it bans all GMOs from the store.
I’m now in Leduc, Alberta (outside Edmonton) for the Going Organic Alberta conference. I spoke today about organic initiatives that are taking place across Canada (there are so many, and I’m sure I just scratched the surface!). It’s been really great to meet people I’ve only ever known my email, and meet many more that are so active in organics in the province. I also attended the GO Annual General Meeting, where they just approved a name change for the organization to: Organic Alberta. You read it here first! The name change was a good one, as the the organization is so much more than transitioning, which GO suggested.
Tomorrow, I’m meeting with a few people from the organization to discuss strategies for organizational development and programs (although ACORN is only 10 years old, we’re pretty senior as far as organic organizations in Canada go). We’re also going to talk about ways that our organic organizations can stay better connected to one another, and share resources/best practices. Then, finally, home on Friday! I’m looking forward to a sleep in my own bed and making a nice bowl of oatmeal (Speerville oats, of course!).