You know that scene from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate factory that involves an entirely edible set? It's a scene reminiscent of a feeding frenzy and it's also exactly what Natural Products Expo East is like. Except it's for 'healthy' people the candy is all organic. Each year, hundreds of exhibitors come to Baltimore to showcase their products. Are the products any good? Somewhere between an acute awareness that some company representatives haven't the slightest idea what they're talking about and eating your 20th gluten free cracker product in an hour, you'll find the good stuff.

Expo East is sensory overload, so I'll share what I learned, what I did and how you can have the best experience at Expo East next year. Stay tuned for a later post on the best and worst products.

Technology at Expo: This was one of my favorite parts of the Expo East experience. The minions behind Expo East are tech savvy. There's an app for planning your trip and walking the expo floor. They're on Twitter and Instagram and there's a hashtag (#expoeast). This is exactly how major events should be run if you want social interaction. A clear and detailed press agenda was emailed the day before the event and badge pick up was a cinch. As a blogger, I was given a badge with a QR code/ bar code so companies on the show floor could scan me for my information to get in touch later.

Day in the Life of a Blogger/Dietitian at Expo:

8-9 AM: I attended the press breakfast and new product presentation. As a blogger, attending this early morning session gave me a chance to talk to product reps and get the scoop in a more relaxed way. The breakfast spread? Yogurt parfaits, fruit and mimosas. About half of the company reps appear to be in a foul mood and not ready to chat with press (not so good for PR). I meet the makers of my new favorite product.

9:30 I am reunited with fellow dietitian and social media lover Elizabeth, who was at the Expo on behalf of Vega. I brought her figs in bag and we catch up.

10-1:00: The Expo floor opens. I spend most of the day in the food section of the expo and scan the beauty and supplement section. I test a ton of products, ask some questions, exchange business cards and take notes. Many of the displays are massive! Chobani brought their So-Ho store to the expo while I also saw a company in a tree house and a giant apple.

1:00pm: I am told my bag is now bigger than my body as Elizabeth shoves some lentil chips  and samples further down into the carryall.  I inquire about sherpa rentals.

Tips for surviving Expo East

  • Bring a large, flexible bag because you are getting samples.
  • Bring your business card. I brought my mini cards.
  • Bring a charger for your cellphone. I just purchased a portable battery charger. It's a must have.
  • Write on people's business cards to remember what you spoke with them about.

Have you visited Expo East?

Dietitian Nutritionist. My husband Chris and I create food and beverage photos, videos, stopmotions and recipes. And they're really cool.