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Quinn on Nutrition: Fancy Food Show

February 10, 2013


First I had to find parking in downtown San Francisco. Then I had to walk a few blocks to get there. But oh, this Fancy Food Show at Moscone Convention Center was worth it.

Billed as the "largest marketplace devoted exclusively to specialty foods and beverages on the West Coast," my taste buds and feet ran out of steam long before I got to all the offerings in two giant exhibit halls of 1300 national and international food artisans. But I did my best.

What caught my attention initially were the assurances that products were organic, non-GMO, all natural, gluten-free, vegan, and kosher. And that was just the bubble gum.

On to ginger ale…made with "100 percent fresh ginger, pure cane sugar and no preservatives." Besides its well-reported ability to help settle an upset tummy, I asked the young woman if she knew of other health benefits of ginger.

"One customer told us it was a great hangover helper after he spent too much time in a karaoke bar in Japan," she said. (This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.)

I did learn something from the Aglio di Mirabella garlic folks, who encouraged me to check out their aptly named website — addgarlic.com. To maximize the health benefits of fresh garlic, crush it at room temperature and allow it to sit for about 15 minutes before cooking.

"That triggers an enzyme reaction that boosts the healthy compounds in garlic," says garlic researcher Dr. David W. Kraus from the University of Alabama.

I was intrigued at the booth that showcased huge slabs of Himalayan pink salt used to serve food samples. What is Himalayan pink salt? I asked a young woman at the booth.

"It’s pink salt from the Himalayas," she said politely. Duh. (My own research tells me it is a rock salt mined in Pakistan. And its pink color comes from iron oxide.)

There were olive oils…lots of olive oils. And chocolate…lots of chocolate. Not surprising, since chocolate, olive oil and other specialty oils and cheese are currently the "most purchased" specialty foods.

A couple of products from El Marques caught my eye. Olive Butter — a soft spread of pure olive oil processed without additives or trans fat. And Olicopene — a pink-tinged olive oil due to the addition of lycopene — the red pigment found in tomatoes that may help reduce the risk for certain cancers such as prostate cancer.

And speaking of tomatoes, my favorite flavor "ahhh" came from California Sun Dried Tomato Ketchup. And it contains less sodium than many other ketchups.

I tasted broccoli chips and kale chips and coconut chips, most comparable in calories to regular chips. And by the way, the Way Better Sweet Potato chips tasted…way better.

I learned about peanut flour from Georgia. Probiotic-enriched coffee. And Hatch green chile from my beloved New Mexico.

Late in the day, my attention caught on Fartless Chili Makin’s.

OK, what’s your secret? I asked the young lady behind the counter.

"We give you directions on how to soak the beans to remove the gas," she explained.

That does work pretty well, I affirmed.

"And if not, may all yours be quiet little ones," she said sweetly.

And at that, I headed for home.

 

 



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