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.


Marilyn Miller said...

Love seeing the pictures at the Fancy Food show. I wish I could have been there.

Unknown said...

Whew! This is gonna be a long comment!

Bamboo products, including flooring, is a wonderful concept, or it was until they started cutting down rainforests to plant more of it to meet the demand of eco-conscious people. Why did they have to ruin it like that?!! Why to make it cheaper, of course!

Back when my boys were in Little League baseball, I always brought the water. This was before bottled water, so I bought one of those 3-gallon Thermos water dispensers with the spigot on the front. I filled it from the faucet and threw in a bunch of ice to cool it. I still have that Thermos(20+ years later) and use it when we have family gatherings so the kids aren't constantly running into the house for a drink. Are people so lazy that they can't use something like this? I even take plastic cups and write each one's name on them so they can use them all day. And then I wash them and they use them again the next time.

I don't think I could ever eat foie gras, I don't care how they pretty it up for the consumer. It's still un-natural.

Ah, the HFCS, have you seen the corn industry's advertisements on TV? They're trying to make us think that it's perfectly healthy. The worst thing about it is that humans don't reach a satiation point when they eat foods containing it. In fact, it creates the need to have more and more of it. I use blue agave sweetener, sometimes I even put it on waffles for the kids. They don't even know the difference.

Okay, I'll stop my ranting now! On a positive note, I would love to attend one of these conventions, because I love food and I love food and kitchen gadgets and paraphenalia! Can I come with you next time? :)

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Marilyn,
Stay tuned, I will have many more photos.

Dear Susan,
Goodie, I love long comments! Here comes a long response.

Though there probably are some irresponsible or ill-advised companies that use the practices you describe, let's not throw out the baby with the bath water. Bamboo is the fastest-growing plant in the world and can be a great alternative to other, less sustainable wood materials. I think if we focus on sustainability certification that is based on solid science and encourage consumers to insist on responsible certification, it will be a step in the right direction.

You and I are two peas in a pod. I loathe disposable containers and often brought reusable containers and cups to my kids' sports events. I bring my calligraphy markers and write names on the cups, just like you :). The kids, and their parents, love seeing their name written out in calligraphy. I featured the icebox waters here because it is better than the individual bottles.

As for foie gras, I don't understand why they have to force-feed these poor ducks. Don't all ducks have livers, even if they are free-range? Having said that, it looks like these ducks have it better than most cows that are bound for the large slaughterhouses in the US. I try to buy Niman Ranch beef as much as possible.

I would loooove to attend this show with you. Send me an e-mail if you think you'll be in the area next January.

Unknown said...

dutchbaby, I meant to say that I thought the boxes of water are a super alternative to the status quo. I hadn't seen them before. Are these already on the shelf, or were those prototypes?

I agree with you about the slaughterhouses. I'm really considering becoming a vegetarian, or an almost one. I do buy the Niman Ranch ham steaks at Trader Joe's. I don't think they carry their beef though.

My friend Ginny would love to have me visit her too. She lives near Carson City, NV. Hmmmm, ya never know! Just right across the mountains from San Fran!

Relyn Lawson said...

I'd love to design my own series of bags - just for me. Not for a shop. Wouldn't that be fun. For one thing, I'd make mine much bigger than normal.

Vagabonde said...

That sounds like heaven – all that special food and all the gadgets. You know my cousin’s maiden name in France as well as all the family on my mother’s side is Bourdain. I look at him on TV and see a resemblance to my grand-mother of all things, who was a Miss Bourdain! Who knows….we might be family. Anyhow I have to laugh at the people now getting on line with all the environmentally conscious stuff. My husband had a Masters Degree in Environmental Planning in the 70s. He was considered an extremist then when he kept saying that we needed to save water. So many things he said would happen did.

Ruth said...

May I join you and Susie next January? You would be two grand dames to accompany, since you both know a ton about food, sustainability, reusability, and all that other good conservation stuff. It's thrilling to see how the trends have finally become the norm. Finally even our big grocery chain here, Meijer, in the fast self checkout aisle, the computer asks if you brought your own bag. I've had so many clerks there give me their dirty looks that imply how difficult it is to bag groceries in my Trader Joe bags compared to the plastic that hangs so nicely on their hooks.

Ah well.

I love when you post these shows.


Great images.
We missed the show again!

Maybe NY in June.

Good to hear about the increas in GF products.....

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Susan,
Here is the link to Glacia's availability page:

Trader Joe's used to carry the Niman Ranch and bacon, but now they don't.

I would love to have you and Ruth come join me next January - it would be a dream!

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Relyn,
I think you should make a line of tote bags featuring your famous lists!

Dear Vagabonde,
This show is heaven. It's more about food than its gadgets though.

How wonderful to be a Bourdain! I loved reading "Kitchen Confidential" and I get a kick out of "No Reservations" on the Travel Channel.

Isn't it wonderful how environmentalism has become mainstream? I never saw disposable grocery bags until I came to the US; I'm glad it's becoming out of vogue now.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Ruth,
I would love it if you joined us! I used to get the same looks of exasperation a few years ago but they're waning now. I try to appease the clerks by bagging the groceries myself. I love the Trader Joe bags; the oil cloth bags tend to stay open a little better.

Dutchbaby said...

Welcome to Dutchbaby! Yes, I thought it was great so many gluten-free options.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dutchbaby and readers

Thanks for stopping by our booth and sharing your journey with others.

I can't speak for all producers, but the bamboo we use is grown in the wild, is certified Organic and harvested sustainably. It is one of the benefits of working 'at the source' here in China. As conscientious consumers, we should all be asking the tough questions of the companies we do business with.

It was the first time we exhibited. We'll be back. Lots of fun and friends.

Thank you All

Jeff Delkin

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Jeff,

Thank you for visiting dutchbaby and for producing a beautiful and sustainable product. I hope to see you again next year!

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