We just returned from an exciting natural foods show in Anaheim, California. Besides enjoying the warm weather and deep blue skies, we learned about the new trends in the natural foods industry. Originally, we were going to complete our Positive Synergy Series this week, but we are going to submit that next week so we can give you up-to-date information about what we learned at the show. The Positive Synergy Article will totally surprise you as you begin to see that doing and eating certain activities and foods will be more advantageous than if you only experience one of them at a time. Stay tuned!! The Natural Foods Expo was an interesting blend of supplements, cooked foods, raw foods, kitchen appliances and personal care products. We saw the newest ingredients and products that will be marketed through health food stores this year. Many of them are not even available yet. One ingredient that caught our attention was Baobab, an interesting antioxidant ingredient from Africa. We can’t help but wonder though, if it will be another acai, moringa, or noni. We also saw some interesting booths that demonstrated creativity and craftsmanship. The amount of marketing dollars spent on creating and manning these booths is a small fortune. In talking with the vendors, they agreed that the effort and resources to present their products at this venue was likely more than most small business owners’ annual marketing budgets. One thing that really stood out to us was: Several of the vendors proclaimed that their products were “non-GMO” or pending that certification. They were also quick to point out “gluten-free.” But when asked if their products were “Organic” they would either a) quickly divert the conversation saying “it is All-Natural” so as to make you think that the organic distinction wasn’t important, or b) tell us bluntly that the “Organic” distinction was just too expensive for them to obtain. It seems that vendors are tossing around several “Industry” words or “Buzz” words and it will easily confuse consumers. For example, do you remember not too many years ago the word “Natural” was consistently used—and it still is being overused today? Can we place trust in any product that says “Natural” anymore? At the show it seemed that Non-GMO is the up and coming phrase to look for, but all that it means is that the seeds from which it grew were not genetically modified. While that is important, it still does not mean that the product was created with quality ingredients, without pesticides or herbicides, whether it used high quality fertilizer, no mention of the processing of the product, no discussion of whether it has living enzymes. Ultimately, by describing the product as non-GMO, there are many questions about the quality of the product still unanswered. Organic however, means the produce and other ingredients are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), or ionizing radiation. So when selecting foods it is more important to select Organic than Non-GMO. Gluten free products are also something to be careful of. There is no discussion about the amount of sugars, salts and fats in those products. Even the quality of the grain substitutes need to be addressed. There are many more organic gluten free foods, which is a great benefit. But watch the label carefully and don’t expect ALL gluten free foods to be quality, healthy grain alternatives. People today seem to believe that more protein is good protein—even if it is plant based. Several products were touting the extra protein value in them since that appears to be what consumers are demanding. Watch what you purchase, believe us, the industry is watching you. The convention center can hold many products. If we were to guess, there were likely 10,000 vendors representing multi numbers of products. Of all these vendors and products only a small percentage of products could actually be considered “healthy” even thought most of them will be on your local “health” food store shelves. It is more important now than ever to read labels. 10-20 years ago, this industry had true health food. There wasn’t the potential for making large money in it then, so the people who created products were truly committed to real, healthy, quality foods with excellent ingredients and processing. Today there are different reasons why people are there. There are “junky” health foods that are highly processed and minimally better than what can be purchased at your local box grocery stores, “moderate” health foods which may not hurt your body but will likely not help it either, and “true” authentic health foods that can be valuable for your body to consume. There seem to be more chia, flax, and hemp products than there used to be, but there is an abundance of disguised unhealthy products conveniently neglecting to differentiate themselves from truly healthy. Their buzzwords, jargon, and deceptive packaging can easily make you believe that this is the one that will change your life! We have been in this industry for nearly 25 years. In that time, we have watched as highly regarded supplement and whole food companies as well as numerous medical doctors have sold out to profit focused corporations and within a short time, it became apparent the quality of their products diminished and were no longer as effective and valuable as they once were, no matter how many times you see it advertised on PBS, on the Wholefoods shelves and anywhere their Marketing Firms can place them. Even for the discerning consumer, it is easy to fall for the lingo and find out their descriptive words were missing a key component that distinguishes this product from all of the rest. If you learn to critically evaluate each of these, you will find out quickly whether these companies have the consumer good in mind, or their shareholders. While we do understand the value of “transitional foods”, it becomes quickly apparent that there is so much more to why and where the placement of these products are in the store shelves. It is no longer a reality that the greatest number of items on a store shelf means it is the most effective and greatest product. Rather, it means, that the marketing dollars for that product have generated the best placement on the shelves, which is usually at your eye level. The confusion surrounding the jargon of these “healthy” products has led HD to create a new department whose sole focus is to remove some of the confusion. We are the first to create self-regulation in an industry that has gone beyond the scope of where it once stood for quality and integrity. We will soon release more information about how you can see for yourself what is truly healthy and what is contrived. Stay tuned! There are new berries and supplements that are making the news. If you haven’t heard of moringa and baobab, you must be missing something! We have found through the years, that although these new hot supplements may introduce new antioxidants, the truth is and has always been, that if you maintain a strong immune system by a primarily raw, plant based diet, discreet supplementation, and consistent exercise as well as stress management, you will likely not feel any true difference if you were to try them. As often as we have been approached and subsequently tried the newest ones, invariably, our reactions nearly always disappointed those wanting us to sell their products. If you maintain a healthy immune system, these new up and coming miracle products will seriously disappoint you and have the potential of being a wasted investment. There will always be a new wonder-supplement. Instead of falling for their exceptionally creative marketing talk, stay the course, and maintain your weight, your exercise and your immune system using the God-given, truth-filled approach. Talk about synergy…non-GMO is important, Gluten-free is important, Vegan is important, but alone, each one of them can still have unhealthy ingredients…. The only true value is if you evaluate EVERY component, not just one. After reviewing this food show and most of what it offered, we have seen more than ever the value of RAW. Even if it isn’t organic, a raw food, by its very nature is more healthy than 99.9 % of those products we saw this weekend. No matter their ORAC value, their glucose level, no matter what, RAW FOODS are the best!!