Every fall, since I started Tonic in 2007, I’ve attended the Canadian Health Food Association’s Conference and Trade Show. It’s the biggest business to business event in Canadian health and wellness. It’s the main opportunity for me to meet face to face with many of my advertisers and marketing partners in the magazine that aren’t based in the GTA. Along with everyone else who attends, I learn about what’s going on in the industry, health and wellness trends, as well as new businesses and products. And I get to see people I genuinely like.
I walk the floor, as opposed to setting up my own booth. All of the nutraceutical and food-based businesses there are trying to secure sales for the year with national and local retailers. It’s a vast sea of products and samples and signs and pitches. If I stopped and talked meaningfully with each booth I’d never be able to cover everyone in the two day trade show. I barely have enough time to connect with existing contacts as it is. I pitch and listen to pitches. I taste and try (see below) and ask, and kibbitz and bring home samples. Over the course of the year the products that you’ll see featured, the trends we report on, the editorial choices we make in Tonic are mostly edified by my attendance at this one show. Here are some quick takeaway notes:
Apple cider vinegar is the new chaga mushroom…which was the new kombucha…which was the new…well you get the picture. If you haven’t already, you’ll read plenty about the health benefits and many applications of the product. And yes, I did sample straight shots of vinegar at the show. It always strikes me as funny when the company reps insist on you trying a sample of the health product. It’s not as though there are immediately measurable benefits. At best you’re just verifying that the taste isn’t horrible. BTW apple cider vinegar shots taste as awful as you imagine.
There’s no such thing as too many samples of dark organic chocolate. Ever. While a good amount of the floor space is taken with vitamins and herbs and nutraceuticals, there’s lots of foods with dubious health benefits there to try. You can fry all the potato chips you want in avocado oil, but at the end of the day they’re still potato chips and if you want to be healthy you should probably have an apple instead.
I’ve read some reports recently suggesting that some of the active cell counts in products aren’t significant enough to have true health advantages. That may or may not be true. I can tell you empirically, however, after a day of sampling which included more than a few “probiotic” products, I noticed a “difference” in my gut. Next year I’ll have to remember to pace myself.
On the Tonic front, I was happy to hear from our partners at CHFA that there is interest in our new healthy pet column, written by frequent contributor Kathryn Anderson. This month she’s writing about safe Halloween costumes for your dog . There’s some helpful information about niche home food delivery services . Naomi Bussin reviews a great new salad–based cookbook. As always, please feel free to reach out to me to discuss this note or anything else that you’ve read in this issue of Tonic.