The 54th Annual Fancy Food Show was in New York this week. 2,400 exhibitors from 81 countries, and it seemed half of them were organic chocolate companies. In addition to the usual suspects, Dagoba and Green & Black’s, there were Theo Chocolate, Travel Chocolate, Claudio Corallo (who claims he is “practically biodynamic”), Pacari and many others. How do you distinguish yourself among that big a group? Organic Meltdown is promising to save one tree for every chocolate bar they sell. Every wrapper is numbered and you can find your tree on Google Maps.
The show featured it’s own Natural & Organic Pavilion, but it was largely unnecessary; the majority of organic products were mixed with the other exhibitors which is where they belong. Organic honey was big this year. There was some great stuff from the Zambezi forest (Zambezi Organic Forest Honey), and a company (Wholesome Sweeteners) that makes a honey-type product from the blue agave. Of course, that’s the same plant they make tequila from so they better make sure they have enough for both. While not certified organic, Bee Raw Honey had one of the most delicious lineups of the show; ten different honeys harvested from the the nectar of a single floral source. You would do a varietal tasting with them the same way you would wine. The “Washington Buckwheat” was insanely good and unlike any honey I’ve ever tasted.
I was all set to drink some wine with the gang from Stellar Organics Winery from South Africa, but they had taken off to Florida, leaving our friend Leigh from Organic Vintages to man the booth. We tasted through their wines, including a new line called “Live A Little.” Stellar Organics is “organic, sulfite-free and fair trade all in the same bottle.”
Also at the show was the Organic Spirits Company, makers of the first organic Gin, White Rum, Spiced Rum, Scotch Whiskey and an unfiltered organic Vodka. We’ll be doing a more formal tasting with them soon. There’s even a company Modmix that makes an all-organic line of cocktail mixers, including citrus margarita, lavender lemon drop, mojito and a pomegranate cosmopolitan.
We get into trouble when we pitch alcohol to kids, so for the younger set there was Honest Kids Organic Thirst Quenchers; 60% less sugar than Capri Sun, no high fructose corn syrup or artificial flavors, and the pouches can be sent in and recycled into school products.
Other unique organic products included organic caviar, the Organic Smokehouse, Real Wasabi, Smart Spice (which handed out their press kit on a USB drive - love that) and organic flours from the U.K.’s Bacheld Watermill. Best in show though was Cypress Grove cheese’s - and I’m not even that big a cheese fan. Our columnist Anne Greenwald was right about them; amazing stuff. I’m waiting for the day the wine world embraces the organic label the way food products are.