Sharing the Journey
The Living Without team is just back from Anaheim, California, where we attended Natural Products Expo West, the world’s largest natural and organic products trade show. We walked through aisle after aisle of vendors (seemed like miles!), examining the vast array of gluten-free, organic, non-GMO, vegan, paleo and every other possible permutation of healthy food product on display.
But with 2,600 exhibitors, it wasn’t the big, impressive booths built to look like barns or tropical oases that got to me. It was the small mom-and-pop businesses, those 635 companies exhibiting at the show for the first time. Instead of being in oases, these companies were crowded shoulder to shoulder in small booths on the third floor, fueled by the passion to provide the best new foods in their niche, whether Brussels sprout chips or gluten-free whoopie pies.
As I was walking down one aisle with Susan Tauster, Living Without’s national accounts manager, one exhibitor spotted the magazine name on our badges and stopped us in our tracks.
“Living Without, I love you!” said Rosa Dixon, co-owner with Milia Lando of Natural Decadence, who ran to give us hugs and take a photo with us.
Rosa told us about her infant daughter who was misdiagnosed with cystic fibrosis. At 15 months, she was in the 1st percentile for weight and slapped with the label “failure to thrive.” After some persistence, her daughter was finally diagnosed with the true cause of her maladies: celiac disease. The toddler started the gluten-free diet and within three months she reached the 87th percentile.
Susan and I felt shivers running down our spines.
Living Without became her trusted resource, Rosa said. She saved every issue. And she turned her fledgling catering business into a dedicated gluten-free company, making baked goods like pies, cookies and graham crackers without gluten, eggs, dairy or nuts. Some of her products were based on recipes published in Living Without.
Meeting Rosa and Milia was one of the highlights of Expo West. So many of us with celiac disease and special dietary needs are searching for a shared connection and mutual passion. It’s such a joy to find that and to help others to go through this journey together.