I spent the day today at the Gluten and Allergy Free Expo. There were good things and disappointing things.
I will start with the good things. This year the expo is much bigger than it was last year so there were far more booths to visit and vendors to meet. Some of my favorite brands are coming out with some terrific line extensions, (the Kinnikinnick bagels are actually chewy), and it was great to know what to demand from my local Whole Foods.
One huge improvement was that this year it was easier to attend lectures and the speakers were easy to hear as they were all speaking in rooms dedicated for that purpose with full AV. Last year it was literally difficult to hear the speakers.
The Kid Zone was also greatly improved. Last year it was a table in the hallway. This year it was a confined, dedicated space.
That said there are a few more things I thought could be improved. First of all, there were too many vendors that were about green living or holistic health, not specific to digestive issues. I felt bad for them as they did not get the business that they should have.
Second, out of a total of eight or ten lectures total, two were given by moms whose autistic sons drastically improved after making changes including the GFCF diet. In one of those the lecturer even mentioned how many of us have issues with multiple foods. Yet few of the vendors actually had products that were free of most major allergens. Sure, Enjoy Life, Kinnikinnick and Namaste were all there with their fabulous hypoallergenic products and Cybele has her cookies on store shelves now and they are also free of the big allergens, and there are some new mixes and products out on the market which can be made dairy free. Yet somehow this eluded vendors marketing their mixes and products. I could not believe how many products contained dairy. Pizza was everywhere…it all had dairy on it. I can get a frozen gluten and dairy free pizza at my local non-specialty chain grocery store. How is it possible that I could not get one at the Expo? The sheer number of products that contained dairy and corn not to mention nuts, soy and eggs, was pretty disappointing. Note if you are a vendor, aside from Schar, the big guys are gluten-free, dairy-free and kosher. If nothing else, you need to get the dairy out.
For example, there is a great local vegan company that makes marshmallows. But they make them with corn syrup (not identified as organic or even non-GMO) and corn starch. So while I would prefer a vegan marshmallow, I will be sticking with the Kosher ones that use tapioca starch, fish gelatin and sugar. Yet I am certain that the marshmallows could be made with tapioca starch and agave or cane syrup…they just aren’t.
The point is that we attended a food expo for food allergic people. We have really common food sensitivities. They are all in the JJ Virgin list. They are all top 12.
We walked out with bags full of literature having snacked largely on foods we already knew about. And then we went home and had a big dinner.
So is it worth going? Yes, the lecture we attended was good and there were several great new products out there.
Just eat before you get there…trust me on that one.
If you are going tomorrow the Expo is at the following address.
The Schaumburg Renaissance Convention Center
1551 Thoreau Drive North
Schaumburg, IL 60173