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The Lost Art of Authentic Human Connection (& Lattes)

As no surprise to any of you who follow my insta-stories, I was honored, grateful, lucky enough to be able to attend the Natural Products Expo (East) this past week/end. And while I had absolutely no intention to do a recap on the experience… nor did I attend as a “blogger” with the whopping ONE blog post under my belt thus far… nor did I have the space set aside to sit down and write today as I prep for vacation… somehow, this post happened.


I guess, that is a part of the adventure that is living in the present moment. Tons of tiny, candid interactions build on top of one another, and all of a sudden: whoa.


Here I am! And here you are! And here this post is.


That was really the message that I heard loud and clear this past weekend through funny, thoughtful, and divine connection after connection. In a world filled with sensory overload, with so many businesses with great intentions, and with so many worthwhile products - how does one decide who and what to support?


And my answer? The humans.


Instead of taking you on a play-by-play of the 1,000+ products I ooh-ed and ahh-ed over, I wanted to recap a few brands whose PEOPLE really made an impact on my first non-exhibitor expo. Needless to say, I am NOT great with names, so most of these badass humans are only vaguely being recognized under the guise of the companies they worked for.


Forager Project

Website: https://www.foragerproject.com/

Instagram: @foragerproject

Product Line: Plant-based Yogurts & Milks


I’ve been a fan of this product for a while now, which is a surprise to me considering I was never a huge yogurt fanatic when I ate dairy. Their Vanilla Bean, topped with some Michele’s Granola is one of my top 5 treats, so I knew I wanted to check them out at some point. There were other great dairy alternatives at the Expo, as well, but my mind was blown with the overall Forager experience. Not only did we sample their current flavors, but the crew kept saying, “OOH wait!” and running to their fridge to dig out a flavor or product that was “in the works” or currently being tested. It felt like we were at the labs, behind the scenes, and seriously VIP. Mind you, we were not name dropping that we were bloggers or anyone of any importance to them, so this felt extra cool… and they were genuinely excited (as were we: their new full fat line is freaking incredible!)


Host Defense

Website: https://hostdefense.com/

Instagram: @hostdefense

Product Line: Mushroom Supplements, Teas, Chocolates & More


Again, I was familiar with this product as I use their adaptogen tinctures in many of my cacao ceremonies, but unlike Forager, I hadn’t even thought about them being at the expo. We stumbled upon their booth near the end of our first day, as they had hot water & some of their new teas out, and my mind was like, Turmeric Immune tea? Yes please. Lion’s Mane Chocolate? Hello! And brain-enhancing supplements? Stop. Right. Now. My friend & I started a conversation with one of the wonderful ladies (ended up having amazing chats with 3 different humans) after she handed us shirts that said “Bee friendly!” We asked about the connection between the mushrooms and the bees, and she disappeared, returning with the copies of a children’s book: From Bears and Trees to Mushrooms and Bees, and sharing about how studies have shown that mushroom mycelium might just help save the bees. What?! Their knowledge was incredible, and we spent 30+ minutes there simply learning, receiving, and loving on the mushroom leather hat that one man was wearing. Yep, mushroom leather IS a thing, too. So to recap, they are saving these human bodies of ours, the bees… AND Pachamama?! I am honored to support them, and highly recommend that you check them out if you are interested in adding mushrooms to your lifestyle.


Milkadamia

Website: http://www.milkadamia.com/

Instagram: @milkadamia

Product Line: Macadamia “milk” & creamers


Just add delicious creamy beverage + a funny latte barista + a sweet Kiwi accent… and you’ve got the Milkadamia experience in a (macadamia) nut shell. I circled back to this booth on day two just for another coffee from their cute barista who told cheesy one-liners while making seriously impressive latte art, but I would have never known that inside scoop if it weren’t for the CEO, Jim Richards. He stood out over the weekend as one of the cheekiest, and most fun connections we made. I love shows like this because the people behind the brands sometimes make an appearance, but Jim was there the whole damn time, manning the ship & laughing along with us “commoners.” In a world of a million incredible non-dairy options these days, I know that I will be turning to Milkadamia more frequently because of how easy Jim made it to fall in love with their new product line (and because anything he said with that New Zealand accent sounded like gold.)


Miyokos Kitchen

Website: https://miyokos.com/

Instagram: @miyokos_kitchen

Product Line: Plant-Based Butter & Cheese


This was the last stop on the last day, which meant that 99.5% of all products, exhibits, and humans were wiped clean. Somehow I had missed them prior and was feeling #fomo, but it didn’t matter one bit: they were still going strong with samples & smiles. As we stood there chatting, a woman walked up and took a sample of the butter on bread: “Is this farm-raised?” I giggled at her eyes bulge as she learned it was a vegan product. The head honcho gave some amazing insight into dairy-free farming, picked up the product from the fridge, and shared insight as if it were the first person he’d spoken to all day. They continued to slice up nut cheeses as we gobbled them up, and answered all the questions that were being thrown their way. They also offered up full sized samples of some of their new product as the day was ending, AND shared how one might use them (hello Roadhouse Mac & Chz!) To continue spreading the love to each human up until the last moment of the show reminded me that some products & humans really walk the walk of their branding, which for them is being: Phenomenally Vegan (and yeah, I'm cool with being Phenomenally Cheesy!!!)


Remedy Organics

Website: https://www.remedyorganics.com/

Instagram: @remedyorganics

Product Line: High Protein Plant-Based Wellness Drinks


I picked up this product for the first time at Wegmans about a month ago with no prior knowledge of them. To be honest, it was their pretty packaging & bright colors that caught my eye amidst the juices and energy beverages in their plant-based section. So when my friend stopped to chat with them, I remembered my awesome experience with their Matcha, and jumped right into sampling their other, equally colorful products, which led to some amazing conversation with the people behind the products, especially Cindy, the founder. Side note: I did not know she was the founder at the time, I just knew she was an incredibly badass and down to earth boss babe. This company was an amazing reminder that high-vibe, colorful people create high-vibe, colorful products - and when done authentically, you can truly feel the difference even in a blind test (which is what I consider my experience at Wegmans!)


Mother Kombucha

Website: https://motherkombucha.com/

Instagram: @motherkombucha

Product Line: Small Batch Kombucha


Okay, when a product’s logo is a shining goddess of feminine divinity, you know I’m going to be on board. But the humans who were manning the tap to this elixir of life really sealed the deal. I had a lot of delicious kombucha over the weekend (seriously, so many), and the Hopped Passion Fruit and Blue Rose were two of my favorites here. One of the women shared, “Do you know how many people ask me why it’s Mother Kombucha and not Father Kombucha? I’m like… seriously?!” For those of you not in the ‘Buch lingo, this fermented tea is made using the “mother” scoby during the process. But in addition, they had some serious reverence for the divine feminine, and we walked away from that booth shining a little bit brighter because this brand & the funny, irreverent people behind it. This brand isn’t *yet* carried here in Baltimore, but I’m really hoping Mom’s hops on board with this fellow Mother sooner rather than later because the one bottle I'm rationing for now is almost..... gone....!? (Cough: Request here!)


+ A few other notable companies to check out:


Hu Kitchen: Ridiculously good vegan, paleo chocolate (peep their covered goldenberries if you're looking for a new obsession)


Snow Monkey: Plant based, sugar free, HIGH protein "ice treat" aka ice cream aka my favorite thing. (One word. Passionfruit.)


Tribucha: Another seriously bomb kombucha company from PA with an emphasis on wild flavors & also, canned, whoa. Bonus: Logo's got a third eye. No big deal.


Better Bites: Top 8 Allergen Free Sweet Treats that actually taste like they're horrible for you because they're that good.


Charlotte's Web: CBD company with flavors like Chocolate Mint, and people who make you Lol.


Again, and I assume this goes without saying, but I didn’t write about any of these brands because "I’m sponsored". I did it because I am avoiding packing and a slew of other necessary "adulting" things today, and also because I want to get sponsored. JK JK.


Really, if I'm going to get on a soapbox here:


I want humans to support the F out of other humans who still value the lost art of authentic human connection, and these companies really nailed that this weekend in.


So hey, if you got lost on the interwebs, somehow read this post all the way to the end, and any of these products piqued your interest, check them out! This body of yours will surely thank you, and you’ll be supporting some seriously great people while you’re at it.

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© Designed by Elyza Dolby. Inspired by Zoe Marks.

Photos via: Brit Strackbein, Suzanne Tylander, and Becky Stavely