Seal the Seasons – Tri-State Berry Blend
Grown locally, frozen locally, distributed locally. Such a regional model is simple in concept, and makes good use of infrastructural efficiencies, but typically falls apart as a company seeks growth and national accounts. Nothing falls apart for Seal the Seasons, though. This unique brand has tackled the growth imperative not by violating its local-sourcing principles (contracting with fruit and berry farmers, freezing locally and distributing to retailers within a 300-ish-mile radius) but by replicating them again and again in half a dozen locales north and south, coast to coast. The founders of Seal the Seasons believe this is a way to support U.S. farmers and local economies while reducing carbon emissions in the food system. We believe their Tri-State Berry Blend is worth celebrating from the aisles of Expo East.
Farmer Focus – Organic Free Range Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
Shenandoah Valley Organics, otherwise known as Farmer Focus, adds a new layer of awareness to the poultry industry by addressing the needs of the farmer. The conventional poultry sector and its widespread abuses—inhumane treatment of chickens and poor environmental impacts—have been the primary topics exposing the chicken supply chain for the true costs on its stakeholders. But Farmer Focus also exposes the abuses found in contract farming systems that weakens the farmer’s agency to have control over production and standards. Thus, Farmer Focus is USDA Organic certified, Certified Humane, rated Step 3 for enhanced outdoor access according to the Global Animal Partnership Standards and uses a business model where farmers are empowered to make decisions that adhere to these third-party certifications essential to SVO's brand. This is the first brand to be transparent and traceable while educating to consumers how farmer contracts with SVO is superior to conventional contract models, making it better for the farmer, the hen, the environment and the consumer.
Gotham Greens – Classic Pesto
The hyperlocal hydroponics behind Gotham Green's roof-to-table supply chain proposition is optimized for growing lettuce and herbs. So far, that is the primary product and a skeptic might point to that as a limit on growth for the vertical farming/hydroponic movement. That's why it's nice to see Gotham Greens take a step toward diversification with its pesto sauces. The Brooklyn company with a greenhouse atop a Whole Foods Market and many thousands of square feet at other locations is already successful—new sites are under construction or in development—but more products and revenue streams are likely needed to realize the full potential of the model.
The Real Co – Organic Raw Coconut Sugar
Founded on a principle of sourcing opportunity rather than market opportunity, The Real Co identified a need for more single origin products to be brought to market. Only supporting small, organic, non-gmo family farms which support their community and offer a fair, living wage to their workers, The Real Co brings these growers a new opportunity to sell to a mainstream market. Its new Organic Raw Coconut Sugar is directly sourced from Nugdi Lestari, a farm in the islands of Java, Indonesia. Once the the sugar is brought to the U.S., it is packed in its Portland, Oregon facility which employs adults with learning and physical disabilities. The Real Co. doesn't stop there though—every purchase helps support its FACE (feed a child everyday) lunch box program, which helps feed children in rural schools. So if you pick up a bag of the coconut sugar, you'll sleep a little easier knowing you've helped feed a child in Gilgil Town of the Rift Valley in Kenya. It is The Real Co's incredibly strong, multi-faceted mission that made giving The Real Co an Editors' Choice NEXTY a no-brainer.
ECOPROLIVE – Marina Olive Salt
Sustainability, upcycling and a respect for the nutrient-dense foods that form the basis of the Mediterranean diet are in the DNA of Spanish company Ecoprolive. Their Olive Salt comes from a unique approach to extra virgin olive oil production by upcycling the pulpy leftovers into PreBiofenol, an olive prebiotic fiber rich in phenolic compounds. This delicious, European Union-certified organic salt is a blend of sea salt, turmeric, garlic, shitake and reishi mushrooms, and black pepper.
Theo Chocolate Inc. – Peanut Butter & Jelly Cups
Theo Chocolate has always been a gold standard of integrity in the industry with direct farmer relationships and the ability to trace every cocoa bean from the farm through its supply chain, all the way to its USDA-certified organic and Fair-Trade certified chocolate confections. The company’s new Peanut Butter & Jelly Cups are a delightful treat, with creamy peanut butter and tangy raspberry jelly that combine for the perfect bite. We also love that this will be one of Theo’s first products produced with 100% plant-based packaging.
Bluestone Lane – Australian Iced Cofee
We love that this RTD offers a taste of Melbourne, Australia’s well-known coffee culture. Through a wonderful partnership with Elmhurst Dairy, the delicious cold coffee drink features oat milk—the darling of non-dairy alternatives. Understanding the incredible need for sustainable packaging, Bluestone Lane uses SIG combismile, a 100% recyclable material made from renewable materials.
Pride of India – Papadum Lentil Crisps
After just a minute in the microwave, these papadums crisp up to restaurant quality and produce flavorful protein and fiber-rich, grain-free snacks that wowed our judges. Behind the curtain, things get even richer. They are made by hand and from scratch as part of an Indian minority-based women’s empowerment initiative that employs underprivileged women of working age to help them earn fair wages and support their families.
Minna – Lightly Brewed Sparkling Tea
Minna is an organic, unsweetened, lightly brewed sparkling tea that uses only organic, non-GMO ingredients with no sugar or added sweeteners. We love Minna for its social mission, clean label and beautiful storytelling. Minna is leading the way by offering resources to support diversity and inclusion across their brand–the kind of leadership we love to see.
Serenity Kids Baby Food – Grass-Fed Bison Baby Food
Would you feed bison to your baby? The mamas on our judging panel say “Yes,” especially after examining the nutrient benefits and approving the taste of this newest offering from Serenity Kids. Committed to sourcing 100% grass-fed, grass-finished bison (an ideal protein source that delivers iron, zinc and vitamin B12 and improves the animal agricultural ecosystem), Serenity Kids mimics the macronutrients in breastmilk by adding to it kabocha squash, spinach and avocado oil. We also love their mission to train infants’ palates to enjoy savory flavors versus the traditional sweet and fruity offerings found in most baby food pouches.
Lilly’s Foods – Organic Keto-Cauliflower Hummus
Keto consumers can once again take part in the joys of hummus (sans the extra carbs) with Lilly’s small-batch organic cauliflower-based hummus. The company created this delicious alternative with just five simple and USDA-certified organic ingredients—cauliflower, sesame tahini, salt, garlic and olive oil—making it easy for vegan and gluten-free consumers to enjoy as well. Low-carb dieters and healthy eaters alike will appreciate the transparency of Lilly’s recipe and the integrity of the organic, non-GMO components in addition to the ease of buying such a product as opposed to making it from scratch at home.
Chameleon Cold-Brew – Oat Milk Latte Cans
Chameleon, the leading organic cold brew brand, doesn’t just source sustainable and ethical coffee beans. Through sustainability projects in five countries, the company invests in community-driven farm projects. To then boost the benefit for their farmer partners, they make great-tasting products that drive meaningful consumer demand. Their latest is this organic cold-brew oat milk latte, arriving in October in delectable dark chocolate or mouthwatering maple.
Safe Catch – Wild Pink Salmon
Safe Catch says it designed this line of snacks specifically for athletes, kids and pregnant women. The key to this is one important for all—mercury testing every salmon to limits 30 times stricter than FDA limits. The wild caught salmon is also dolphin safe and comes with Fisheries Certificate of Origin. Not only is the fish traceable, so are the spices. The on-the-go package makes grabbing a healthy, tasty, protein-filled snack easy. It proudly touts its Whole30 approved, Paleo friendly, American Pregnancy Association and Kosher creds.
Good Catch Foods – Plant-Based Tuna in Water
Plant-based tuna is a thing and Good Catch is leading the charge. Finally, we can all enjoy seafood without sacrifice that is both good for you and good for the planet. We love the texture, nutrition and approachable flavor profile. This product is made up of six different legumes and algae oil, combined for a fresh and flavorful approach to plant-based. In a challenging space Good Catch is hitting all the marks–without the worries of fish farming or high mercury levels.
Sun God Medicinals – Organic Eir Menopause Hemp Tincture 500
Smart formulators watching the hemp CBD revolution roll across every category in the supplement industry are now discovering they can use more than one key to unlock all the potential in the body’s endocannabinoid system. Sun God Medicinals addresses menopause support with a tincture that combines hybrid hemp flower with ingredients that include damiana, red clover, valerian root and, of course, black cohosh to create a formulation with CBD as the star player and tried-and-true herbals as the supporting cast.
Sun God Medicinals – Organic Aja Body Relief Daytime Hemp Tincture 500
Sun God Medicinals hails from Oregon, where they manage extensive USDA-certified organic hemp production. What they don’t grow themselves they source locally, supporting the region’s organic herb farmers, sustainable wildcrafters, health-conscious food producers and local artists. With licorice root, nettle leaf, burdock and valerian, they’ve produced a powerful formula of herbs that support a healthy inflammation response.
The Australian Natural Soap Company – Dog Shampoo
Every dog needs a good wash every once in a while. This pooch shampoo provides the safety and integrity we're looking for in a product for our fur family member–compostable packaging, less water weight (a lower carbon footprint) and super clean, simple ingredients that won't harm your dog's sensitive skin. Fido can’t wait for his bath, especially when its with soap that’s never come in contact with any plastics!
Vibrant Health – Digestive Vibrance
Vibrant Health’s Digestive Vibrance gut health formula wowed us with its 100 billion(!) condition-specific probiotics, fermentable fibers and carefully selected ingredients for digestion support. Their Supplement Facts label is impressive, disclosing each ingredient and amount for a transparent product that consumers can trust. They’re also a proud supporter of Vitamin Angels, an organization that provides nutritional support to mothers and children at risk of malnutrition, and Autism Hope Alliance, a foundation that provides education, financial support and volunteerism to families facing the diagnosis of Autism.
Emerald Health Bioceuticals – Endo Omega Vegan
Three of the biggest trends of the last decade are DHA Omega-3s, the ketogenic diet and hemp. So why not combine the three? And why not do it with a bioavailability-enhancing oil emulsion that tastes yummy to boot? Combined, the three ingredients target the body’s endocannabinoid system to bring about bliss and balance. The education around the latest body system to be discovered is a great treat to the great mass of imbalanced, dis-eased people out there.
Palmetto Harmony – Holy Cannacense Topical Cream
In an industry where a lot can go wrong, Palmetto Harmony does so much right—initiated by founder Janelle Ralph’s passion in launching the company as a way to bring relief to her ill daughter. Ralph’s advocacy efforts helped legalize hemp’s cultivation in South Carolina (which has made Palmetto Harmony a vertically integrated company) and the company’s direct and honest marketing are incredibly respected. Pure, organic and traceable, the product clearly labels what is (and isn’t) in the product. In addition to full-spectrum hemp, the topical cream contains shea butter, beeswax and coconut oil for an ultra-nourishing blend.
Hu Products – Hu Gems
Hu Kitchen was created by two founders who wanted to “feel better than ‘fine.’” They went on a mission to make high-quality real food that tastes delicious, founding the restaurant and chocolate line they wished had already existed. As many vegans can attest, good vegan baking chocolate is hard to find, so Hu’s Snacking and Baking Dark Chocolate Gems were a pleasant surprise with their delicious taste, texture and richness. A small handful of these little hexagon-shaped chunks, made from organic cacao, unrefined organic coconut sugar and organic fair-trade cocoa butter, also make a yummy, paleo snack!
Crazy Richard’s Peanut Butter Company – Wholly Rollies
Wholesome ingredients, sustainable practices and supporting kids and communities are the underlying philosophies of this family business. This woman owned, Certified B Corporation donates healthy food to The Healthy Kids Happy Future Project, an organization that it founded to help feed children in need. This belief in good-for-you, real food extends to these new frozen protein balls: simple and nutrient-dense snacks that taste homemade and make the perfect bite-sized treat right out of the freezer.
88 Acres Foods – Watermelon Seed Butter
We come across unique ingredients all the time, but watermelon seeds as the headliner? Now that catches our eye. This tahini-like watermelon seed butter boasts rich and buttery flavor with more protein per serving than almonds or peanuts. We thought the sweetened version could stand in as an allergy-friendly swap for nut butters, the unsweetened version makes a good sesame-free tahini that has a positive water conservation impact, too–watermelons use 78 times less water than shelled almonds to grow!
Northern Planet – Dtocs Plastic-Free Disposable Plates
It's hard to imagine a durable, disposable plate made from one single, natural ingredient, but that’s exactly what Northern Planet created. Mimicking indigenous manufacturing methods, the plate uses naturally fallen palm leaves processed with water and UV radiation for disinfection—no plastics, chemicals or resins are used. Eco-focused and providing employment to remote and under-developed villages and communities, Northern Planet is on its way to organic certification, Non-GMO Project verification and Fair-Trade certification.
World Centric – NoTree Cups and Bowls
Every year, as many as 20 million trees are cut down to manufacture upwards of 50 billion paper cups used in the US annually. World Centric, a mission-driven Certified B Corporation is addressing this issue with their fully compostable tree-free foodservice hotcups and bowls, using unbleached sugarcane paper. With 25% of pre-tax profits supporting grassroots community and environmental projects, the NoTree hotcups and bowls go above and beyond the company’s already noble initiative of waste reduction.
lil’gourmets – Organic Veggie Meals
Any parent knows that most blended baby and toddler food pouches and jars tend to be heavy on the fruit and low on the veggies. Not to mention, most options are shelf stable and highly processed. Lil’gourmets aims to change that by being committed to a veggies-first promise (all recipes contain 70-95% veggies), low-sugar formulation (every pouch contains 5 grams of less of naturally occurring sugars) and a focus on fresh (you’ll find ‘em in the refrigerated case).
Primal Kitchen – No Soy Teriyaki
Primal Kitchen comes to the rescue for the paleo-focused again, this time with their No Soy Teriyaki. This USDA-certified organic, Whole 30 Approved condiment stands out amongst its competitors with a clean ingredients list, making delicious Asian cuisine more accessible to those who otherwise would be admiring from afar. The tasty sauce is gluten-free too, making it a versatile, clean condiment that you’d want in your pantry for the quick mid-week concoction.
Bare Republic – Mineral SPF 30 Face Lotion
Consumers want a sunscreen that doesn't leave harmful residues on their skin or in the oceans, where it can be detrimental to marine ecosystems. They get both in this mineral-based SPF 30 sunscreen that doubles as face lotion - no white streaks, just a sheer, untinted, unscented lotion that rubs right in and provides broad spectrum, water resistant protection from active igredients titanium dioxide (5.2%) and zinc oxide (2.5%).
CV Sciences - PlusCBD Hemp Oil Spray
The supplement market has been bombarded with a new, magical ingredient called CBD. Consumers have not only had to warm up to this new ingredient, but they’ve also had to adopt tinctures as a delivery format—an issue for some. CV Sciences Plus CBD addresses this hesitancy with their Hemp Oil Spray–an approachable way for a new consumer to enter the world of CBD wonder and magic.