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A Roundtable Discussion

March 17, 2010

Last week I was invited to attend the Expo West Show and a roundtable discussion with the CEO of Stonyfield.  Apparently I’ve been living under a rock because I had no idea that Expo West is the world’s largest natural and organic products trade show.  This year the show set a new record with 56,000 attendees!  I can personally attest to this fact as it took me nearly 2 hours to drive down to Anaheim and another 30 minutes to find parking.  But the drive was well worth it because not only did I get to attend the most amazing trade show imaginable, but I also had a chance to talk with Gary Hirshberg, the CEO of Stonyfield. 

I was not allowed to bring a camera into the show, which was weird to me because I saw other people snapping pictures like there was no tomorrow.  I was pretty disappointed because the setup of the show and Stonyfield’s booth was phenomenal, but what can I say?  I am a rule-follower through and through.

Gary Hirshberg was nice enough to provide me with an autographed copy of his book Stirring It Up which I am very excited to read.

Stonyfield also gave me a bag of other items including coupons, kitchen utensils, a Sigg water bottle, and a copy of Girls Gone Green by Lynn Hirshfield.

The roundtable consisted of myself, Gary Hirshberg (CEO), Alice Markowitz (VP of Communications), a member of Stonyfield’s PR team, and another blogger (I didn’t get her card).  I must say that I was pretty honored to be part of such a small group of interesting people. 

After introductions, Gary gave us a little background on himself and the company, and then addressed our questions.  Much of our discussion focused on Gary’s take on Stonyfield’s partnership with Groupe Danone, the measures Stonyfield takes to regulate their organic farms, and the organic industry as a whole.  I was very interested to learn that the #1 reason people start eating organic is because they have children (the #2 reason is due to illness).  Since I personally woke up and smelled the pesticides right around the time Maya started eating solid foods, I absolutely agree this should be the number one reason people go organic.

I went into this roundtable not really knowing what I was in for, but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.  I found Gary and the entire Stonyfield team very honest and committed to improving not just their bottom line, but the world as a whole.  Since one of my main focuses in life is to leave the world a better place for Maya (I know my brother is rolling his eyes at this cliché) I truly appreciate anyone who is on a similar mission.  And if a company like Stonyfield can make a little money along the way, all power to them.

After the roundtable concluded, I decided to check out the rest of the show.  The convention center was like a Whole Foods magnified 500 times…I saw booths for Larabar, Yogi, PopChips, Pamela’s Gluten-Free, Dagoba Chocolates, Mary’s Gone Crackers (she’s gone cookies now too!), Jay Robb Protein Powder, VegNews (I love this magazine), Nature’s Path…I could go on forever.  Unfortunately I had to leave so I could battle another 2 hours of traffic to pick up Maya in time, but I could have spent another two days at the show with no problem.

I collected a few samples, including some Larabar flavors I had never tried and some great gluten-free cookies and cereals:

I could have easily picked up double this amount but I only took samples of things I really wanted to try.  I truly hate the mentality, “If it’s free take as much as you can.”  I’m sorry, but if we are at a show featuring products that are supposed to make the world a better place, I’m fairly certain the philosophy of grabbing free samples by the handfuls doesn’t exactly fit into the concept.

Anyway, I had a fantastic time at the roundtable and at the show.  A big thank you Stonyfield and Gary Hirshberg for giving me the opportunity to get to know their company better!

38 Comments leave one →
  1. March 17, 2010 8:28 pm

    ohmigosh. How lucky are you, Ameena?! What a great opportunity indeed!

  2. actorsdiet permalink
    March 17, 2010 8:31 pm

    woo hoo that looks like fun!

  3. Danielle permalink
    March 17, 2010 8:39 pm

    That sounds like a cool conference! I’ve always been impressed with Stonyfield (and I don’t even eat dairy)

    I’m jealous of all that swag you scored!

  4. March 17, 2010 8:44 pm

    You’re one lucky ducky! What an opportunity!

  5. March 17, 2010 8:45 pm

    ah that’s so amazing! sounds so cool. also i’m with you 100% on the i-don’t-need-to-take-it-just-because-its-free thing.

  6. March 17, 2010 9:01 pm

    lord almighty i am so jealous!! awesome!! i love expos where you get free swag..esp if it’s food! i’ve been avoiding yogurt, but stonyfield is pretty great. and new laras? hells yeah!

  7. March 17, 2010 11:53 pm

    OMG I would have given my right vitamix arm to go to the show!!! how fun!

  8. March 18, 2010 1:01 am

    Thanks for stopping by at my blog. The husband is totally enjoying his new-found popularity with one blog!!

    Looks like one hell of an Expo there!

  9. March 18, 2010 4:12 am

    What a cool experience! Looks like you got some great stuff– and I admire your restraint on the free samples 🙂

  10. March 18, 2010 4:41 am

    Looks like a great event with some nice take home goodies. I have to say daaahling, you are a better girly than me, when its free I try to take what i can, especially if its food LOL, i’m horrid.
    *kisses* HH

  11. March 18, 2010 4:46 am

    Sounds like fun! I really want to like Stonyfield but I’m not a big yogurt fan at all. The only kind I like is Greek yogurt, and I think it’s because of its thicker consistency. I do appreciate how the company paved the way for organics, though.

  12. March 18, 2010 4:57 am

    Congratulations on the roundtable!! Such a cool, well-deserved honor! I completley agree with you on your philosophy about free stuff, too – kudos to you!

  13. March 18, 2010 5:07 am

    I love Stonyfield! They sent me some free coupons for Greek yogurt and its great 🙂 What a fantastic grab bag you got!

  14. March 18, 2010 5:15 am

    Your day sounds great! I am with you on that, just because its free it doesn’t mean you need to stuff yourself to no end.

    I went to an Off Shore Expo (this is off shore oil and gas) so what kind of samples and giveaways are they going to have? In my book nothing that intresting. I was there to meet with some vendors and really network. There were people that were walking out of the expo with bags of stuff…

  15. March 18, 2010 5:51 am

    Ahh I would kill to go to an expo like this! Sadly, we never have anything remotely close to it where I live.

    Love the fact that you didn’t load up on samples that you didn’t want simply because they were free; it drives me nuts to see people do that.

  16. March 18, 2010 6:03 am

    Soooo I am SUPER jealous of you!!!! All that swag.. holy crap. Is that a Nature’s Path cereal I spot? If it is what I think it is, you are in a for a major TREAT!!!!

    I love Stonyfield and what they do and what they stand for.

  17. lowandbhold permalink
    March 18, 2010 6:32 am

    What a great opportunity. I agree with the philosophy of not grabbing crap just because it’s free. So wasteful.

  18. March 18, 2010 6:38 am

    What a fun opportunity! I always laugh when I see people loading up on free stuff- it’s like really, go buy a box of granola bars if you need 5 or 6… let other people try them, too!

  19. March 18, 2010 6:41 am

    I on the other hand live by the rule: “If it’s free take as much as you can.”

  20. Susan permalink
    March 18, 2010 6:56 am

    Wow, that is so awesome that you were a part of that panel! Those peeps seem so interesting; I would love to converse with them. And check out that swagggggg.

  21. March 18, 2010 7:17 am

    wow that is soooo cool!! and that’s some pretty sweet freebies 🙂

  22. March 18, 2010 7:36 am

    what a great event and experience! loved the items you are sampling! what new larabar flavors did you find?

    good for you!

    • March 18, 2010 8:38 am

      Hi Cindy – with the exception of the Peanut Butter Cookie Larabar, the rest are all new to me and Maya! They might not be new to the market though. We are a little behind!

  23. March 18, 2010 8:28 am

    Wow, what a cool show! I’ve heard Stonyfield criticized for getting too commercial, and I know they’ve struggled with growth while maintaining their standards. I “woke up and smelled the pesticides” this past year and I really think it’s important to support organic, even if it means my grocery bill is higher! So awesome that you got to participate in the roundtable!

  24. March 18, 2010 9:17 am

    gosh what an incredible opportunity and honor to have been invited! how amazing…..i saw the owners of stoneyfield farm on food inc and loved their philosophy….
    how fun 🙂

  25. March 18, 2010 9:50 am

    wow! how cool that you were part of the roundtable and got to be a part of what sounds like a really cool expo show!
    great swag too! it will be fun to try it all out.

  26. whydeprive permalink
    March 18, 2010 10:23 am

    That sounds pretty awesome!! SO cool that you got to go.

    Im a rule follower too. Theyre there for a reason people!

  27. March 18, 2010 12:18 pm

    That’s awesome!!!!! You sure did rack up with the swag!! 🙂 I have so much respect for Stonyfield’s company and philosophy!!

  28. nadia permalink
    March 18, 2010 12:32 pm

    you know i’ll be stealing some of those foodie samples from you:) how cool, i would have gone nuts in there!! what an amazing discussion to be a part of!

  29. March 18, 2010 12:33 pm

    I’m so glad you got to go to that! I remember seeing footage of the Expo in Food, Inc. and it seems really neat!

    Is that the elusive cookies & cream Lara flavor? I want to try it!

  30. March 18, 2010 12:49 pm

    That’s so awesome!! I love Stoneyfield yogurts. You are one lucky lady 🙂

  31. March 18, 2010 2:28 pm

    How cool that you got to discuss all of that with them! They sound like some really great people. I didn’t realize the #1 reason people go organic is for their kids.

    I would love to go to an expo like that! Like you, I only take freebees I want. My mom will take anything and it drives me NUTS!

  32. March 18, 2010 2:57 pm

    That sounds like a great conference to be in and it is so wonderful that you got all those lovely products!

    I really like that you take only stuff that you want. I hate people who go crazy over free stuff!

  33. March 18, 2010 3:05 pm

    wow, how did u get an invite? that is great.
    if u send out some of those samples, please do 🙂

  34. March 18, 2010 5:32 pm

    Maybe you can bring a camera next year? 🙂

    I’ve actually been very impressed with Stonyfield and their commitment to providing a quality product. They have some really wholesome yogurts that I love! I can understand switching to organic once you have kids – I know I’d want to keep my little ones as healthy as possible as they start life.

  35. March 18, 2010 6:19 pm

    This sounds like it was a fantastic opportunity! The books you received sound really interesting!

  36. March 19, 2010 2:02 pm

    wow i am so jealous, i totally wanted to go to the expo!! i cant believe they said no cameras and then everyone else had them!! at least you got to see/try everything and we will just have to imagine we were there…happy weekend!!!!

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