I may be imagining it, but it seems like the normal food section of the Fancy Food Show (NASFT) is getting smaller and the start up companies, new products section is getting bigger! It used to be just the 200 row with the new products on the market but now they have the special new products/hot products room AND most of the North Hall at the Moscone center dedicated to new exciting products!

As a food scientist I look for technologically exciting foods- weird imports, unique flavors, special packaging— anything that makes me think about the way it was processed is exciting to me! I also want to see the latest healthy ingredients to replace last years healthy ingredients so we can all get in our fiber, protein and good fats in the proper ratios in the right beverage delivery medium.

So here it goes—my favorite weird products at the Fancy Food Show! Starting with my most curious-I am completely intrigued by a chocolate filled intact egg shell confection called “Real Egg Shell”. This product is NOT new, it’s been around awhile but I couldn’t help but ponder what goes down in that manufacturing facility. I am sure they have to steam clean out the eggshells in a very gentle way (but yet strong enough to kill off any salmonella!) and then fill it with chocolate, put little stickers over the hole (so chocolate doesn’t seep out)- and decorate it.  Then they sell this for fairly cheap- like around $4 or $5 dollars! I want to tour this facility – it’s a food scientist dream plant, Willie Wonka meets the USDA!

sanitized egg shells filled with chocolate!

sanitized egg shells filled with chocolate!

I saw water that is naturally alkaline to a pH of 8.8 (the sales rep explained to me that above 7 is basic and below is acidic.. so glad he cleared that up!) – Now I am no water expert but I always figured water with a pH of 7 is fine- but from now on, its above 7 water for me only!!!

I got to taste Bucha– a natural Kombucha beverage with live Kombucha cultures. What made this particular sparkling Kombucha different from the many others is it actually tasted really good and didn’t have that harsh vinegar taste. Filled with living probiotics, it could actually be beneficial if you drank it every single day , which I probably won’t unless a truck load of it accidently falls in front of my house.

Lastly- sprouted is hot—sprouted almonds are so 3 years ago, now you can get sprouted watermelon seed and sprouted sesame seeds– both are higher in protein than the un-sprouted versions.  The sprouted watermelon seeds are new- I can’t even find it on their website yet!

sprouted watermelon seeds-- lots of protein!

sprouted watermelon seeds– lots of protein!

Other hot trends that I saw and heard about include— Gluten free (of course), lots and lots of seasoned popcorn, lots of half popped kernels (Half Pops, Pop Kerns and my favorite, Qancha—a lightly toasted Peruvian corn nut).

toasted peruvian corn with avocado oil

toasted peruvian corn with avocado oil

My least favorite product this year was a sugar free cookie made with Erythritol- it tasted great but caused all the usual sugar alcohol symptoms that one can expect. The company said that Erythritol causes LESS gastro distress than sorbitol and other sugar alcohols but I don’t believe it!

 

 

 

 

orange injectoin

Why do chefs get annoyed with Rachael Ray? She takes what they  (the chefs) worked really hard at and recreates substandard versions using manufactured products and ready to use ingredients. Rachael won’t shuck her own peas, she just buys them in the can and dumps them in-she won’t make her own puff pastry, she will buy it, defrost it and top it with fruit.   She takes what was hard, makes it easy—and not as tasty AND she gets tons of money and a TV show for doing it. It all just seems unfair right?   She is also way to upbeat and happy – and that’s annoying too.  Rachael Ray may anger the chefs but she makes the masses happy—they can recreate an illusion using her shortcuts while impressing their friends all in the 45 minutes they have left after work, the gym and carpool.

Rachael let the world in on the chef’s secrets so they could enjoy it too!

A similar parallel has taken place between the food scientist and the food science “writers” like Harold McGee and Nathan Myhrvold. McGee wrote “On Food and Cooking” which translates technical food science into cook-friendly kitchen science, something that had not yet been done in a systematic, comprehensive way. Myhrovold wrote Modernist Cuisine, a description of the application of scientific research principles and new techniques and technology to cooking.  Both of these writers took the mysterious world of food science and made it into something that everyone could understand and relate to- and play with in their own at home kitchens.

BUT yet- I am bothered by these guys in the same way that Rachael Ray bothers the chefs.  I think about the great food science professors and all the research being done by food companies all over the world and how they are looked upon with disdain by the masses… The food scientists are just a bunch of artificial flavor using, high fructose corn syrup worshipping, preservative injecting, GMO supporting scientists responsible for world-wide obesity and diabetes.  I actually get annoyed when a “foodie” or chef tells me how McGee changed their life or Myhrvold inspired them—or now they see how great xanthan gum really is— I just want to say: “hey, I coulda told you all that stuff and then some if you just asked”.

But they didn’t ask me and if they had I would not have been able to explain it to them in layman terms the way McGee and Myhrvold did- I would have probably just quoted from my Fennema Food Chemistry textbook or given them a lecture on the importance of acidified foods and a sub 4.6 pH.

And so I can’t really resent Ray or McGee or Myhrvold- they simply just recreated, in simple easy to understand language what was already out there. As long as we all understand that Rachel Ray is not a real chef and McGee and Myhrvold are not really food scientists, but very smart people who just generated mass interest- I think I can live with their fame and glory while I continue to get the evil eye from all the foodie, hippie, artisan, free thinkers of the food world. Just don’t forget who optimized those canned peas that Rachael Ray tosses into her authentic made from scratch Shephard’s Pie!

Lets keep it real!

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Wagyu Beef for Everyone—

I have been to many a World of Flavor conference- Eight to be exact—and most of them have focused on one particular type of cuisine or a category, like Mediterranean or Asian, or my favorite – Spain! This year was different- this year the Culinary Institute of America World of Flavors Conference focused on creativity and techniques that all chefs are using across the board all over the world—The World of Flavors “Kitchen’s Connected” brought together chefs from some of the worlds top kitchens and they showed us their creative process, their research and innovative techniques.

Some of my favorite highlights so far have included:

  • Nathan Myhrvold’s opening speech on creativity and innovation in the kitchen
  • Australian Chef Matt Wilkinson’s creamy savory tomato filled puff 

The Australian Chef with savory tomato cream puffs

  • Kentucky chef Ed Lee’s chicken and waffles
  • Wixon Seasoning Green Apple Greek Yogurt Pushup pops
  • Nonstop all you can eat Wagyu beef slices being passed out like London broil by MAFF (Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fishery Gov. of Japan) (they told me it cost $90/lb and the cows are massaged daily and fed lots of beer… lucky cows!)
  • Torani’s Bourbon Milk Punch (which lead to my falling asleep for a few minutes during the general session…)
sleepy time

sleepy time

 

This is the first time that the CIA has really brought together both chefs and scientists to demonstrate how the creative culinary and food science combine and can be used to create amazing and fun dishes that are delicious to eat and to look at and play with.  It was almost like a big gigantic Research Chef Association Conference but with more restaurant chefs!

What was fascinating is how these chefs manage to bring together scientific techniques but yet still maintain farm to table-ness in their restaurant. It was  unique combination of culinary creativity allowing chefs to create natural artistic results.

This year you didn’t even have to be present to watch the World of Flavor general sessions live- it was broadcasted via a live web feed through the website.  After the show you can probably find links to all general session videos here: http://www.worldsofflavor.com

So far its been an amazing two days and for the first time I really feel like the CIA is calling out to my very own industry of Culinology- the art of science and food! More photos and coverage in the next few days or you can follow my twitter feed @culinologist

IMG_4066Every year the Almond Board of California organizes techno/culinary events to remind food scientists like me how great almonds are from both a flavorful and technical point of view. This year we visited Vosges chocolate shop in Chicago, during the IFT conference.

Almonds are really nutritious especially when eaten with cheese, chocolate and wine— all that fermentation (cheese) antioxidants (wine) and heart healthy nuts— It made perfect sense that we ate them all together ! For your own future pairing– do what we did at Vosges

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First Pairing

  • BARCELONA  BAR | Hickory smoked almonds + Fleur de Sel sea salt + 41% deep milk chocolate
  • VERMONT BUTTER + CHEESE COMPANY COUPOLE |Crumbly, nutty goat cheese.
  • Parcel  41 Merlot, Napa California | Enormously rich, ripe and concentrated showing layers of blackberry, current and mocha.

Second Pairing

  • NAGA TRUFFLE | 41% cacao deep milk chocolate truffle + sweet Indian curry powder + fresh coconut
  • VERMONT BUTTER & CHEESE COMPANY COUPOLE |This distinct cheese encompasses an amalgam of roasted nuts, citrus and florals as it ages, beginning firm and tangy and gradually transforming into an almost liquid outer layer of creamy bliss as it grows older.
  • NIVOLE MOSCATO D’ASTI| Gentle bubbles rise from this frizzante sparkler with notes of tropical mango, sweet peach and pea, balancing the spicy curry

 Third Pairing

  • WILD OPHELIA |SALTED ALMOND BAR| 41% cacao milk chocolate + chowchilla almonds + smoked Maine sea salt
  • YOUNG PECORINO| moist, milky and sweet, this fresh sheep’s milk cheese from Tuscany resembles fresh mozzarella, with a similar spongy texture but a more pronounced tang.
  • GOOSE ISLAND NUT BROWN ALE | chestnut-hued ale of unusual complexity. Subtle notes of chocolate, honey

Almonds are super healthy— just a quick summary of their benefits:

A one-ounce serving of natural or roasted almonds contains 6 grams of power-packed protein and 3.5 grams of fiber. It’s a top food source of the antioxidant vitamin E as well as magnesium, a mineral that helps the body produce energy, maintain muscle tissue function and regulate blood sugar.[i]

And, it’s a heart-healthy choice: according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, such as almonds, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease. An ounce of almonds has 13 grams of monounsaturated, “good” fat and only 1 gram of saturated fat. 

A 2012 study shows whole almonds may provide the body with 20 percent fewer calories than Nutrition Facts labels currently state – 129 calories per ounce instead of the current 160. The study takes into account the digestibility of whole almonds, and further research is needed to better understand the results of the study and how this technique for calculating calories could potentially affect the calorie count of other foods.[ii]

Putting it all on the table- Food Fete Goods!

Putting it all on the table- Food Fete Goods!

I should be ashamed of myself- for years I too believed that maraschino cherries had formaldehyde in them- the stuff they put in dead people- someone told me this when I was like 8- and now here I am… years and many food science degrees later- still believing that this is the case. Crazy! Turns out that years ago- a writer for a national news magazine confused formaldehyde with benzaldehyde- a flavor that is extracted from cherries, walnuts and almond pits. Well, Cherry Man Farm To Market Maraschinos put a stop to all that nonsense— not only are they NOT made with Formaldehyde- but they don’t even have any artificial colors or flavors in them. It’s a whole new world of Maraschinos out there!

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All Natural- No Artificial anything and no formaldehyde!

Its been a few years since I attended Food Fete- the special fancy event that happens AFTER the fancy food show and is exclusive for companies that want more product exposure and want to mingle with elite members of the esteemed press. I was AMAZED at how BIG this event has become! There must have been 60+ companies there! Most brand new companies that I had never heard of- and a few established  companies that were launching their latest flavor/product concept. For example, Pepperidge Farms was demo’ing their Goldfish Mac & Cheese products.

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And here I thought Kraft and Annie’s had that market covered— enter Pepperidge Farm! They also had some cool puffy spicy goldfish crackers too! Lucky for you I am posting a picture because I can’t find it on their website!!! See, Food Fete Works!

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Puffy and spicy– and flavorful!

Entering into the show, they were serving Ole Smokey Moonshine cocktails- I passed on that because I don’t do the booze (read here why) – but great packaging right!?

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Moonshine – glass jars

I always though Kohler only made kitchen sinks and faucets- but now they make chocolate. I was more impressed with their press kit though, it was a fancy key USB in a box- I will cherish that key thing forever.

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the coolest of all media kits- a USB that looks like a key– in a box

The sneaky chef is sneaking vegetables into your marinara sauce and into the pasta- Now, while I don’t totally understand why they have to be SNUCK in –why can’t kids just be OK with it- at least they are there- and being eaten and that’s all that matters. But here is the part I am not clear on- they have a new veggie pasta on the market but I can’t find any online information—as a food scientist, I want to know how they got the veggies into the pasta. Stay tuned!!!

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Jama Cocoa is a start up company run by Jamasen Rodriguez and five other undergrads- the company combines modern, urban art world with the realm of delicious chocolate confections. They achieve this by partnering with both upcoming and established artists and featuring their artwork on their chocolate boxes. I think they should feature the artwork by Zariart.com who designed the cover of my new book!  The Food Business Tool Kit For Entrepreneurs (mini plug for my book here!)

my awesome book cover- of my great new book!

I also really liked the Jcoco Chocolate from Seattle– more cool packaging (beautiful women featured on the labels) and cool owners.

sexy women on the package!

sexy women on the package!

They promised to attend my RCA chocolate event in a few weeks in San Francisco-being held at Charles Chocolates with a microbiologist speaking about food safety and confections.

I think Lamb is like this forgotten meat in the U.S. – we should all eat more of it and if you visit the lean on Lamb website, they have tons of great recipes!

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eat more lamb!

I have to give a shout out to all California organizations (since I LIVE in California)  because they are just trying to support the farmers!  – the Almond Board of California , the California Milk Advisory BoardCalifornia Olive Ranch, and the California Olive Committee! I felt right at home at this years Food Fete!

Go All Things California!

Go All Things California!

I left the show with two heavy bags – took a taxi across town to meet my friend for dinner- he took a bunch of my chocolate bars, my veggie pasta (now I will NEVER know how they did it!) and some of my half popped popcorns!

sort of like corn nuts-- but not..

sort of like corn nuts– but not..

I got home and lay everything out on the table- wondering which items would come with me to Canada and then back to San Francisco.

Mom took the Lucini olive oil – so I don’t get to keep that– and more chocolate bars were removed from my bag when I was not looking– I did get to eat the Two Fold Foods Savory nuts for breakfast- trying to do the Paleo protein thing— so nuts work for that!

Nuts for breakfast

Nuts for breakfast

Mom snagged this shwag bag item

Mom snagged this bottle—

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I want to thank Jeff Davis for putting on a great event- Great to be exposed to new products on the market- Glad to be able to share the information with my readers!  There were tons of other great products at the show but I can’t write about every single one— they are all listed HERE  because I thought everything was delicious!

Wow- I can’t believe I did it- but I wrote my first book! It’s called The Food Business Tool Kit For Entrepreneurs-How to Research, Develop and Produce a New Food Product. It took me exactly four months from start to finish, it cost me $6500 dollars to write, $4,842 of which was raised via Kickstarter from family, friends and anonymous interested parties who just felt like supporting me. It took me over 1000 hours to write- and now its done! And it can’t be unwritten- it can only be sold-so I hope.

But.. WHAT is this book really all about??

Buy me!

My book is not for the food scientist– it is written for the regular people – the ones who wake up one day from their non-food industry job (whatever non food people do.. finance, real estate, marketing, sales etc.) and realize that they have a dream of making the next healthy food product with a clean label and sustainable ingredients that is good for you, good for the environment and good for other countries and the world. They rush into their kitchen (after a trip to whole foods to buy gluten free grains and nut powders) and start cooking and mixing and showing their friends and putting together business plans and then….. the really complicated questions come in- the stuff that only the Food Scientists know about .. like:

  • How do I Get this Product Made?
  • How do I find a Manufacturer
  • Do I need to do a shelf life study?
  • What’s a HACCP plan?
  • Do I really need to get the FDA involved in all this?
  • Can I patent my product?
  • Can I tell people my product will save the world?
  • Can my product be shelf stable like a twinkie but without all the bad stuff that the twinkies have?

They start searching around online- and realize that – it is not so easy to find the answers to their questions- so they try to hire people, but they are not even sure whom to hire. Should they hire a nutritionist, a chemist, engineer?  A Chef?? Why is it so hard to figure out these answers they wonder..

The reason why- is because—believe it or not- start up companies are not easy to work with because they usually don’t have any money, they don’t understand anything about the food industry and they are just not worth the time needed by co packers, ingredient suppliers and manufacturers. They would much rather someone like Kraft or Nestle come knocking on their door – not Joe’s Jumpin’ Trail Mix from Sonoma County.

And so my book TEACHES the layperson what they need to know to get started. I provide links to the important trade shows- and I explain the basics of food safety and shelf stability and what is HACCP all about. The reader will leave with a solid understanding of the rules surrounding their product category so when they do leave a voicemail for that co-packer – they may even get a call back- if they look and sound like they know what they are doing.

So if you are food scientist reading this post- then this book is not for you-unless you were asleep during food microbiology or didn’t attend Better Processing Schoo-but I bet you know someone who has a food dream but none of the inside exclusive food science knowledge to make it happen. Tell them about my book!

Now you are thinking– how can I trust Rachel Zemser? AKA the Intrepid Culinologist? Does she really know her stuff?

Read my biography– I have 3 degrees, 18 years experience, many publications and lots of recommendations on Linked In. And if you think the book is not helpful- I will give you a refund.

I start going through withdrawal if I don’t attend a trade show at least once a month so was thrilled to learn that the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) conference was held in San Francisco this year. This conference is like a  “Power To the Women in the food industry” event. It was about 95% women and all of them in the food industry, mostly the culinary, blogging, cookbook writing, recipe development segment. But all food scientists know how to find their own, so it was easy for me to seek out a few of my people, including Skip Julius from Sensient Flavors and Ali McDaniel, a food marketing manager from the USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council.

Mustard Eclairs?

Mustard Eclairs- Better Than It sounds!

While there were no seminars on food microbiology or research in the latest flavor chemistry technologies- there was a strong presence of innovative food topics that showed up in the form of- “Examining the Divide Between Dirt and Digital” which explored the tension between traditional and innovation or more specifically- a copper pot versus the sous-vide circulator. Maxime Bilet, the co-author of Modernist Cuisine- was on this panel and he also spoke about the future of food. I was very proud of my friend Dave Hirschkop, founder of Dave’s Gourmet– who gave an informative seminar on bringing your product to market. Not the farmers market but the big supermarket for mass-produced food. He covered all the secret food industry procedures that will also be in my upcoming technical guide for start up food companies!

So while Maxime Bilet was discussing Sous Vide and explaining the inner workings of industrial starches- there were equal but opposite seminars on the joy of foraging your own mushrooms and the history of the iconic sour dough bread. It was like old meets new, rustic meets modern and … dirt meets digital…. Oh, NOW I get the title!! This conference was all about the two industry extremes and what happens when their world collides…. You basically get sous vide foraged mushroom foam!

As the dirt and digital battled it out, I escaped and attended some seminars on how to promote your book (since I just wrote an ebook myself) and left with one piece of information that I can’t wait to use- affiliate book selling! I can give every technical food writer I know a link to my book site and let them profit for every book that is bought via someone finding it on their site! I also spent some time in Dave’s session on bringing products to market and couldn’t help but share a few of my experiences with the group –I left with a few companies asking me for my card in case they ever need one of those “food science” people.

Other topics that I got to explore were “Pinterest” (social media involving pinning pictures to your own virtual bulletin board), how to get funding for your project from kickstarter and other crowd funding sites.

My last session was Dough In The Dark- A Late- Night Finance boot camp for freelancers.  I learned at this seminar that most freelancing food writers make about 39,000 a year- we were encouraged to ask for more money – so I tried it out the next day when the editor of a magazine assigned me a piece- I insisted that I could not possibly take the job for less than $50 dollars more than what he offered me.. and guess what, the editor caved and now I will be $50 dollars richer- so it pays to at least ask!

The IACP conference has some extravagant culinary events like the Culinary Expo sponsored by produce and retail product food companies (sort of like a mini Fancy Food show) and the Sunday night party- sponsored by local restaurants and food companies. I got to eat savory mustard eclairs (from Maille) and see endive growing out of its chicory root.

Next year I am hoping that I can present a seminar at IACP- maybe give my own technical talk on bringing a product to market or perhaps I could win an award for the best technical food guide written and self published in 2013! Stay tuned

I won the golden ticket! Yes, literally I won a ticket when I ate at ING  back in October and the prize was dinner for two at Moto and the opportunity to be head chef for the day.  Ok, maybe not head chef… actually I was probably 3 levels below the intern but I did get to spent 5 hours working behind the scenes in a famous well known culinary science-esque type kitchen. I did have to sign an NDA so I can’t reveal any of the hard core secrets that I saw but I am pretty sure they shielded me from the proprietary stuff- like I didn’t get the secret recipe for Homaro’s edible paper but I did get to peel a few hundred cloves of garlic and I got to wash some beautiful micro-greens and I got to liquid-nitrogenize a sunchoke dressing.

Edible paper and a pumpkin made from pumpkin

Moto restaurant is one of the top 10 restaurants inaccurately referred to as “Molecular Gastronomy” restaurants. This restaurant, along with the no longer in existance El Bulli, WD50 (NYC) and Alinea (Chicago) are known for using industrial ingredients like xanthan gum, “kappa” carageenen and calcium chloride to make their food do things that foods don’t normally do- (which I find very ironic since we, the food scientists, use those same ingredients to make food do what it should do and stay that way for long periods of time). As a food scientist I see the humor in how they use our lab industrial ingredients but I also admire their creativity that inspires them to turn pumpkin puree into foam and then form it into the shape of a mini pumpkin. We never get to have that much fun in the R&D lab- I am usually under a tight timeline trying to figure out which starch will give my sauce the right home-made textured look to match the gold standard the restaurant chain chef wants me to recreate! Ok- maybe we DO get to have as much fun, but our work has consequences.. if we don’t get the texture right, then no business for us!

All the chefs that I worked with at @Moto were high energy and dynamic. You have to be both high energy and precise to work there- you need to be quick and accurate-all at the same time. Head chef Richie Farina and his crew were all that! Chef Richie also had great tattoos…

Richie has great ink!

Richie has great ink!

Moto had several pieces of industrial looking equipment, it had some rotary flasks and my favorite was the Brookfield in the corner. I am not quite sure what they use the Brookfield for, but I know I use it to confirm consistency in sauce viscosity. I wonder what spindle number they use?

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Chef Homaro Cantu is the founder and Executive Chef at Moto.  He is a chef, but really he is an inventor. He mostly invents ideas that are edible, like edible paper. His recent obsession is with the miracle berry, otherwise known as Synsepalum dulcificum. You can eat some miracle berry and then eat a lemon- and it tastes sweet! Homaro recently finished a cookbook that has foods that are normally not sweet, that you can eat POST eating a miracle berry- and it will taste sweet. This one of a kind collection of recipes utilizes the flavor altering properties of a berry that contains zero sugar within the fruit itself. Once this berry covers your palate it tricks your taste buds into thinking healthy foods are actually desserts! You can eat ice-cream that has had all the sugar removed and it still tastes sweet. The hope is that this berry can become readily available in all households and help eliminate refined sugar from the diet.  Cantu also has a new show called Cooking Under Pressure, a web based series about what goes on behind the scenes at ING restaurant. Cantu was the keynote speaker at the 2013 RCA show this year in Charlotte, North Carolina. I was assigned to help him prepare the miracle berry tasting and I spent four hours cutting lemons, wrapping them and putting the lemons, spoons, sour cream and miracle berry into a paper bag that went onto 500 + chairs at the keynote session. I was wearing high heel boots, so the task was painful, but I was grateful that I got to spend all that time with Homaro and listen to his stories about patents and miracle berry and his other inventions.

More on the RCA next week!!!

My IFT Wellness 2013

As a food industry trade show junkie, I try to hit as many food shows as possible but somehow I never had a chance to attend IFT Wellness – probably because its in Chicago and I normally live in California and it happens during that cold time of year. But as luck had it, I happened to be in Chicago finishing off my 8-month project with Kraft and managed to squeeze in Wellness during my last two days in Chi Town!

IFT Wellness is different from the other conferences- I felt like I was amongst the upper crust of the food industry!. Everyone there was just SO SMART!!! There was no sleazy vibe of 10,000 ingredient companies trying to sell me salt, sugar, and xanthan-just intellectual food scientists lecturing on the latest important food industry topics related to wellness. Now I understand the slightly hefty price tag for this two-day event, they really brought in the true experts in our field.

One of my favorite lectures was by Holly J Bayne-a lawyer in a very sharp red power suit- who talked about the word “Natural”. Basically, there are three different definitions and lots of lawsuits going on. IE Ben and Jerry, the nice hippie ice cream guys  (or their parent Unilever anyway) got in trouble for putting all natural on their frozen dessert that included Dutch processed cocoa! There is a pending case against Frito Lay for calling their chips natural when actually their soy was derived from GMO’s. Chobani Yogurt used the “evaporated cane juice” word, which is confusing because it makes consumers think that sugar is this healthy evaporated product from a sugar cane stalk.

I was also very excited to see Dr. Eric Decker, food science professor from the University of Massachusetts. I knew Dr. Decker when he was just a young up and coming professor back in 1994- and how he is top dog over there, head of the department. Dr. Decker gave a great lecture on how processed can contribute to a healthy diet. It’s all about choices. Processed foods save us time and are fortified and can help us get in our daily nutrient needs. Processed foods make life easier, its just all about picking and choosing the right processed foods.

Dr. Decker ended his seminar saying that us, as an industry, must work to convince the consumer that processing foods is essential for delivering a healthy food supply that is accessible to everyone. He also suggested we contact our local congressman and ask him why the government is not funding research to make the food supply healthier.

LuAnn Williams, Director of Innovation from Innova Market Insights  gave a great talk during our luncheon, Nutrition Bench Mark-Who’s Improving America’s Health. She demonstrated how companies like Con Agra, Sara Lee and General Mills are all committed to reducing sodium and sugar in their food.  Meanwhile sales of healthy items like pistachios and Trop 50 are having an impact with successful launches of their products. LuAnn even cited a great article that hardly anyone has seen, written by Smithsonian Magazine –Can Technology Save Breakfast? Which looked towards forward thinking food companies as the future industry leaders in nutritional salvation.

The Expo was small but filled with interesting companies that are doing nutritional value added research. No one tried to sell me anything- just pure food tech conversations and connecting with fellow industry experts. The Almond Board was there, so was Carmi (with their delicious caramel popcorn!). I appreciated the great networking opportunities that came out of both the seminars and the small (but selective) trade show portion.

Hoping IFT Wellness can be in San Francisco next year- perhaps in Napa?