Thursday, January 21, 2010

Fancy Food Show Winter 2010


The super bowl of food shows is the Fancy Food Show produced by the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade (NASFT) since 1955. NASFT awards the Sofi Award, Oscar’s foodie brother, during the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City.

Lucky for me, the winter show is held right here in San Francisco at the Moscone Convention Center. I've now attended this show five times but I still find it impossible to fully describe the experience of attending this glorious show. Imagine a huge convention hall filled to the gills with 1,300 food purveyors enthusiastically showing off 80,000 specialty foods from 35 countries. Imagine all them vying for the attention of 17,000 food professionals attending this food fest. This creates the perfect storm for thousands of food tastings!

Social Responsibility and Eco-Awareness

Predictably, in this harsh economic climate, these numbers are considerably less than last year’s. Fewer exhibitors meant that there was a lot more elbow room, especially for the big name vendors. Could they have gotten a special deal from the organizers? It would make sense to offer some bonus space in favor of a sparse-looking convention center. As pleasant as it was to have more breathing space, samples were doled out more carefully, and it was sad to hear some of the vendors fighting more desperately for their market share.

Social responsibility and eco-awareness are not considered a fringy topics any more. All day long I hears the words “sustainable”, “recyclable”, and “humane”. When I asked vendors about fair trade practices in previous years, I often got looks as if I grew another head. Now vendors proudly show off their fair trade certifications without being asked.

Bambu offers a beautiful line of sustainable bamboo serving trays and a dual-sided spoon and fork which would make a perfect light-weight addition to a picnic basket. I loved the random-shaped pebbles, made from the scraps resulting from their manufacturing process. These would be a great design element to add to a table d├ęcor.

DSC04373 bambu sporks, trays, and pebbles

Glacia offers icebox water in a five-liter (1.32 gallon) biodegradable box with a convenient spigot for dispensing. This is a great alternative to the flats of individual plastic bottles that snack-moms often brought to soccer and baseball games.

DSC04344 Glacia Icebox

Reusable shopping bags are hardly considered novel any longer, Go Green Bags offers customizable bags.

DSC04364 Bags Go Green

Foie gras arguably sparks the most controversial debate about the humane treatment of animals. Hudson Valley Foie Gras extends an open invitation to anyone who would like to visit their farm in New York.

DSC04315 Hudson Valley Foie Gras

Click here to see the bad boy of the food world, Anthony Bourdain, visit this farm. What do you think? Would you eat foie gras after seeing this video?

Corn-based additives

I’m thrilled to report that corn-based additives like modified food starch and maltodextrin are disappearing from ingredients lists. Fingered as one of the root causes of the obesity crisis in the United States, this trend is a welcome change. Thank you, Michael Pollan! Good old-fashioned sugar is making a come-back and agave is now the darling sweetener:



With the increase of Celiac Disease diagnoses, Gluten-free products are on the rise. If a vendor doesn’t offer a gluten-free version of their product yet, they often quickly add “but we will by March” or “we are working on it in our kitchens right now”.

Next post I will talk about flavor trends.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Fancy Food Tease

DSC03793 gnocchi maker

Some of you may remember when I attended last year's. I will be at the Winter Fancy Food Show today; here's a video of the big Summer Fancy Food Show held in New York every year:

Watch this spot...
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