Having just gotten back from the phenomenal Seed Food & Wine Festival in Miami, the country’s first plant-based food and wine festival, I was considering doing the same but in some ways it felt a little strange to do so.
The Seed Food & Wine Festival was not a trade show but was an event open to the general public. Furthermore, this festival felt more like a celebration rather than a critical showcase to impress buyers from retail chains across the country.
So, for the Seed Food & Wine Festival, I have decided to switch things around a bit.
First, I expanded the number from 5 to 10. Not only was I incredibly impressed by what I saw, but I wanted to give more exposure to emerging brands, many of whom are too young to afford or not ready to attend larger trade shows.
Second, I also relaxed my criteria of being USDA certified organic. For the trade show awards, having USDA organic certification is a must and will continue to be so.
While many of the brands listed below are USDA certified organic, some are currently going through the process and I didn’t want to penalize them because they haven’t received their official papers just yet.
Before I get into my Top 10 Organic Food Products of the Seed Food & Wine Festival 2014, make sure you read the end of this post for my overall thoughts on the festival and why I believe this is going to become a massive event in the years ahead.
TIO GAZPACHO – GAZPACHO DEL SOL
I had been hearing about Tio Gazpacho for quite some time and first tasted the product at Expo East a few months ago. Unfortunately, I walked away not overly impressed.
At Seed Food & Wine Festival, however, I tried it again and realized that I must have had a bad batch my first go-around. This time, I absolutely loved it!
Tio Gazpacho is booming, and founder Austin Allan is working around the clock trying to keep up with demand.
This company has the potential to be the definitive brand in the category, similar to Harmless Harvest in the organic coconut water space, and I can’t wait until it hits the shelves in New York City.
The product is currently sold at retail locations in South Florida, but nationwide distribution is imminent.
SWEET EARTH CAKES – PLANTAIN NUT MUFFINS
I had never heard of Sweet Earth Cakes before the festival, but I can assure you that this is a name that I will never forget.
This was the first time that I had ever had plantain nut muffins, and they were out of this world. Moist, filling, and a stunning taste. I was blown away.
All of the company’s products are dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, and vegan. The products are mostly available in the Miami area, but the company does ship nationwide.
ENDLESSLY ORGANIC – WEEKLY ORGANIC PRODUCE BOX
While weekly organic produce boxes can be found in numerous cities around the country, what I love about Endlessly Organic is that not only does it offer heavily discounted prices (which gets it into the hands of people who otherwise may not be able to afford it) but the company targets companies as well.
Having a pick-up location for an organic produce box at the office makes it incredibly convenient for employees and is a great perk for companies to offer to their workers.
In order for us to really improve the health of our nation, getting organic into the workplace will be essential, and Endlessly Organic is enabling this.
Right now, the company operates in the Florida region but is eyeing expansion to other parts of the U.S.
22 DAYS NUTRITION – DAILY MOCHA MANTRA
I have been a big fan of 22 Days Nutrition now for well over a year, and its energy bars are some of my favorite on the market. My go-to bar is the Daily Mocha Mantra, which always curbs my hunger with its great taste and healthy ingredients.
Marco Borges, founder of the company and personal trainer to Jay-Z and Beyoncé, is a serious talent. He has some BIG things in the works and definitely keep an eye on 22 Days Nutrition. It is one company to watch in 2015.
VEGAN SNACK PACKS
The problem with the monthly box model is that half of the things that you receive are items you don’t want or don’t need.
And that is the brilliance behind Vegan Snack Packs. You know exactly what you are getting because you pick the exact snacks that you want – granola, macaroons, crackers, kale chips – and all of the snacks are made by the company, so there is real quality control.
The snacks are vegan and organic, and the packs come with a 100% money-back guarantee.
Very compelling, great gift idea.
JUICERA – WATERMELON X-PRESS
I had been reading about Juicera for several months now, an upstart pressed organic juice company in South Florida, and I finally got to taste its products.
I was completely wowed by its Watermelon X-Press, a combination of watermelon, apple, and mint. Crisp, excellent flavor and very refreshing.
I’m not sure why more pressed juice companies don’t offer watermelon juice – the taste is phenomenal and it is very difficult to find a certified organic one. A very savvy move by Juicera.
U RAWK – CACAO MACA
Always on the lookout for a new energy bar, I found a great tasting one in U Rawk.
Its cacao maca bar is filling, has great texture, and doesn’t overwhelm you with its sweetness. Furthermore, it is more like a meal than a snack.
U Rawk is raw, vegan, gluten-free, and soy-free, and can be purchased on the company’s website.
A portion of all sales are donated to the ASPCA.
Could Gfruit be the next big superfruit from Latin America?
I am not going to make that claim right now, but the product was incredibly intriguing and something that I had never seen before.
Gfruit, also known as guanabana, graviola, and soursop, could be described as a blend of pineapple and strawberry, followed by hint of coconut and banana flavors. Most importantly, it is very rich in Vitamin B1, B2, and C, and potassium.
Even though I have seen several versions of an organic, healthy Nutella over the years, Greentella certainly holds its own with any of them. It is gluten-free, refined-sugar free and ridiculously decadent.
The company is going through a product reformulation, and its new website should be up shortly. As soon as both go live, I’ll share with you the information.
Believe me, you’ll want to know when Greentella is available.
I can’t remember ever seeing a certified organic drink that contained 2 ounces of wheatgrass juice….until I came across Velu.
Even though shots of wheatgrass can be purchased at juice bars all over the country, the truth is that wheatgrass is still not widely consumed by the masses because of its harsh taste.
Yet, wheatgrass is arguably the healthiest food on the planet and is filled with 90 minerals, including potassium, calcium, magnesium and sodium as well as essential enzymes and amino acids. It has many other health benefits as well.
Due to the fact that most of the population may not be willing or able to drink wheatgrass shots on a daily basis, Velu has added lemon juice, apple juice, and water to make it more palatable for the general population.
This is a very smart product and will get wheatgrass out to the masses, something of great importance.
MY THOUGHTS ON THE SEED FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL
* I can’t tell you how impressed I was with the entire festival. Founders Michelle Gaber and Alison Burgos did an amazing job, especially considering that this was the festival’s first year. Great agenda, well organized, fantastic turnout.
* While it was marketed as a “conscious plant-based festival” and not an organic one, organic had a very heavy presence there.
* The festival lasted five days, and I went to three of the events – the Thrive Magazine launch party at the Wynwood Walls (short video clip HERE), the festival day at Miami Midtown Tents, and the White Lotus Dinner Experience by acclaimed chef Matthew Kenney.
I had a phenomenal time at all of them, and in hindsight, I wish that I had gone to more of the events. I met so many interesting people and saw so many familiar faces.
* Nearly all of the companies and restaurants that exhibited were based in South Florida, and there is some definite food innovation going on down there.
* Huge thanks to Karen Doyle and her entire team at Whole Foods Market who acted as the lead sponsor and helped make this festival happen.
* Based on what I saw, I predict that the Seed Food & Wine Festival is going to become one of the must-attend events in the organic industry and vendors from all over the country will have a presence there.
After all, who doesn’t want to spend a few days in Miami eating delicious, healthy food and meeting tons of like-minded people?
Without question, I will be back in 2015. I can’t wait!