Welcome (vicariously for most of you!) to ExpoWest! This if my first 'microblog' from the show, hoping to bring the custom eater community along on my pilgrimage to theirs natural product industry Mecca!
And what more appropriate place for all of us than the Specialty Diets workshop! But this morning the moment that really got me thinking was an anecdote shared by Chef Chad Sarno, the man behind the low sodium, no oil Healthy Living line at Whole Foods, who is now leading up the health and wellness charge at RouxBe online culinary school.
"I was at a bar last night," he said, "having drinks with some old friends. And I told them that this morning I would be talking about plant-based diets. And suddenly everyone got all defensive, saying 'Oh, I could never live without my bacon' and all."
Now I should say that Chad isn't trying to tell everyone they have to keep meat off their płates - he just believes we all need to give plants a more primary billing there.
But that's not what his friends heard, in a way that sounds so very familiar to me. Doesn't that speak to so many of our custom eater experiences? It's not just our diets that set us apart, it's our audiences' tendency to politicize them - whether we look at it that way or not.
Because, as Chad Sarno says, "people are so terrified to change their diets: diets are sacred."
And that, I think, is the perfect send-off reminder to start me in my journey through ExpoWest. Already I've seen freedible and custom eater champions Celiac and the Beast, GlutenFreeFrenzy and Can I Eat Here and I love the idea of us bringing our unique lenses of dietary restrictions to the brands that bring us all foods.
And yet we custom eaters of all stripes need to remember - because we want to be effective - that to make the sacrifices we make every day for whatever reason may sound to the outside world like taking out the veritable sacrificial lamb.
And with that thought I plunge gently but firmly into the only trade show where I might actually be able to find something that I can eat, eager to raise (non-political) awareness for custom eaters like us.