Sunday, January 19, 2014

6 days and counting to the Gluten & Allergen Free Expo... some last minute tips

The Gluten and Allergen Free expo will be in the San Francisco Bay Area in less than a week! I just took a look at the vendor list which reminded me of some tips I learned last year which I'd like to share:

  1. Don't eat before going. Last year we opted for a light breakfast and then came for the 9am opening Sunday morning. By 11am we were so stuffed we were taking a small bite out of a sample and throwing the rest away - as well as turning down countless other samples.
  2. Take a look at the vendor layout when  you arrive and decide on a plan of how you will systematically cover all booths. Trying to dash between different vendors who interest you will be exhausting and you'll never see it all.
  3. Bring your family members! Last year  I brought my husband and daughter. 3 entries = 3 expo bags = 3x the samples. We were eating those samples for months.
  4. If you tasted an item and did not care for it, don't take the take-home sample. You will have plenty of take home samples you like and the ones you don't like will be the last ones you end up eating (reluctantly) or you'll throw them away. Everyone has different tastes and it's very likely that product you didn't care for someone else loved and they'll appreciate the sample.
  5. Don't be surprised if a product sample is gone if you are at the expo late Saturday or into Sunday. I was really annoyed last year when we showed up at opening on Sunday morning and found out all the Glutino pop tarts had been sampled on Saturday. The product had been announced a few weeks prior and had not made it into stores yet- so after 5 years of no pop tarts I had to wait a few months more for them to show up at Whole Foods. Hopefully there will be enough samples for everyone but I'll be mentally prepared if there's not.
  6. Load up on coupons for the products you liked/buy on a regular basis. I'll bet we saved $100 on products we buy all the time by loading up on the coupons. Another benefit of tip #3.
  7. Give honest feedback. The vendors really want to know what you think - now is not the time to be a wallflower. If there is something you wish was different, tell them. If you have a new product suggestion for them, let them know. I am looking forward to talking to the folks at the Canyon Bakehouse booth (my #1 GF bread choice by far) to let them know about how 50% of the loaves of Mountain White I buy frozen are almost impossible to chip apart the frozen slices and I end up with a bag of shredded slices to make into breadcrumbs so now I only buy raisin and 7 grain. The vendors need and appreciate this feedback, trust me!
  8. Enjoy the experience. If you cannot eat gluten, this is the place where you can eat EVERYTHING there. Quite a bit different from your life outside the expo where it's all about finding ANYTHING to eat and when you do, much of the time you're afraid you may get glutened anyway.
Have a great time at the expo!