Leah Segedie is a force of nature. After helping hundreds of women lose weight through her Mamavation website and programs, she decided to tackle the larger problem of toxins and other substances in our industrialized food chain. The result was the creation of the ShiftCon conference, which held its second annual gathering this past weekend in Manhattan Beach, California. And Leah was kind enough to invite me to take part with a complimentary blogger’s registration.
I don’t get out much any longer to events like this. My day job marketing for a local IT company has left me with very little creative energy to keep my multiple blogs going — and lately, every time I attempt to get my blog freak back on, I fizzle out before I get to the second paragraph.
But I believe in what Leah is doing. We’ve interviewed her on our MOMocrats podcast when GMO labeling measures have been on state ballots, and I predict we’ll be revisiting that issue again. More importantly: I continue to search for ways to live a healthier lifestyle and want to know what’s in the food I’m buying for my family.
So Thursday afternoon, I broke away from work to see what Leah had put together at ShiftCon. Unfortunately, I am swamped at work right now, producing several events of my own — so I was unable to come back over the next couple of days to catch panels on topics like “How One Nutrient Can Change Your Life” and “Creating a Toxic Free Future.” I didn’t get to hear the keynote from Stonyfield Chairman Gary Hirshberg or the panel on “Shifting Perspectives in Food, Words & Commerce.”
But at least, I was able to check out ShiftCon’s Expo, showcasing some of the many healthful products available now. And it blew me away – beginning with registration, when along with my badge I was handed a fresh loaf of multi-grain, organic “killer” bread. And then THREE swag bags, filled with all kinds of yummy samples.
There were a dizzying array of natural foods and products on display for the ShiftCon attendees: The expected grocery stores, snack foods, organic farmers collectives, all kinds of dietary supplements and aromatherapy products were all on display. But there were also folks touting natural cleaning products, pest control, and initiatives to rid the environment of glyphosates.
I was delighted to talk to representatives of products I already buy on a regular basis, like Lundberg Farms (delicious whole rice and grains), Barbara’s, (cereals and snacks), Food for Life ((maker of Ezekiel sprouted grain and gluten-free breads), Numi (organic teas), and Nature’s Path.
But it took a visit to ShiftCon to learn that a company like Nutiva sells a lot more than just coconut oil: Their exhibit included hemp oil, red palm oil and a second brand of coconut oil with the coconut flavor removed (so all you get is the goodness of the oil). They’ve also got chia seeds, hemp protein shakes, and a vegan buttery spread. They also gave me a coconut-oil based lip balm that’s the best I’ve ever tried.
But the real revelation were the products that were new to me: Such as Leaf & Love Organic/Sugar-Free juice boxes. With a kid in college, I may be out of the juice box years – but the sugar-free lemonade I sampled is a drink I may buy for myself.
I love orange juice but rarely drink it any longer. So I was delighted with the taste of Uncle Matt’s Orange Juice – organic, lower in sugar and carbs, and delicious.
I’ve been dabbling in veganism again, so I had an interest inprotein drinks and almond milk from Orgain – and was surprised that they did not taste bitter, like the brands I have been buying.
Whole Foods Market was there to promote their Whole Kids Foundation, which helps fund gardens and salad bars in schools, as well as nutrition education for teachers.
FarmBoxLA was also there. They’re another one of those farmers’ collectives that delivers fresh, organic food you order to your home on a regular basis. I love this concept in theory – but when I’ve tried similar services, I’ve found that I could not get through everything in the box while it was all still fresh. Now that there’s just two of us at home, I usually shop for food on a daily basis. It’s a pain in the butt – but there’s less wastage.
I am, however, intrigued by Thrive Market, which is kind of an Amazon.com for organic and natural food – and promises prices that are 30-50% lower than supermarkets. Thrive Market is a membership site (similar to Amazon Prime Fresh) but is socially responsible: The annual membership fee is just $60 (compared to $299 for Amazon Prime Fresh) – and for every paid membership, Thrive Market donates a free annual membership to a low-income American family, so they can also have healthy, organic products delivered straight to their homes.
There was a lot more to look at and sample at the ShiftCon Expo: Natural skin care, hair care, health care… Pet foods… Pest Control.
I wish I could have carved out more time to talk to more of the companies and stay for the sessions. But I have a feeling that in my current (over-worked and over-stressed) state, I would have ended up too overwhelmed to put together a write-up.
So I will leave this as it is. If you are at all intrigued, check out ShiftCon on Facebook. That’s a great place to get the news on the next ShiftCon.