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Planning Retirement Online

Must the show go on?

 May 2005


  Superfoods RX: Fourteen Foods That Will Change Your Life


Jenny Lucas visits a trade show on natural health in Brighton

One mad March day not so long ago, your reporter was assigned, on your behalf, to shimmy on down to The Natural Trade Show in Brighton.

When the plump and shiny 2005 Natural Trade Show Press Pack hit the doormat, my first thoughts were not of the manifold eco blessings awaiting me at the Brighton Metropole. Instead my memory Tardis instantly transported me to an Ideal Homes Exhibition of my youth and my first grim encounter with the world of the Big Exhibition.


Back in the good old days


Whether at Earls Court or Olympia, what I remember was the crush of people funnelled through acres of wooden stands, some of these disguised as Mr & Mrs Britain’s living room. It was nothing like our living room with piles of books stuck anywhere, and a piece of someone’s wedding cake in cellophane paper inside a sugar bowl inside the china cabinet, next to the tiny handbell with the top half of a china lady for a handle (minus crinoline), and last year’s calendar with some 18th century toffs in satin frock-coats, smoking clay pipes and waving goblets at a cutie-pie serving-wench.

There was, inevitably, an Ideal Home dream kitchen presided over by a bubbly blonde in a lace pinny demonstrating a wonder-gadget for guillotining a hardboiled egg into dinky slices, or a chunky metal thingumajig for turning gold-top milk into clotted cream with just a couple of twiddles. Sadly, without blonde Miss Rumpelstiltstkin, in our kitchen it stubbornly refused to produce more than some buttery blobs floating in a runny mess that Mum had to rescue through a sieve to go with the tinned peaches.

What has changed?

All the noise and heat and that snail-trailing-turning-feet-to-lead put me off exhibition shows for life, and as I walked into The Natural Trade Show, I knew that nothing had changed. There were the tightly-packed stands, all three hundred of them, and there was even a Demonstration Kitchen with its 2005 bubbly blonde, “TV diet guru Gillian McKeith”. Gone was the hard-boiled egg, replaced by her seminar on “Amazing Algae – Six things everyone should know”.

This show was strictly for the trade; to support and update all those whose business is at the sharp end of selling Natural health products to you and me. Two days of talks and seminars included: Reasoning Behind Seasoning, or A Journey through the structure of Essential Fatty Acids and their Downstram Metabolites.

Being outside the trade, I was safe from the hard sell and free to explore the merits of Grapefruit Seed Extract – fighting the war against E.coli, or Aqua Detox – “Detox the lazy way!” or even to consider DJMT – magnetic protection for people, pets and mobile phones from the perils of electro-pollution.

Still those old familiar names

Familiar names cropped up like old friends; Ecover or Brighton’s very own love child Infinity Foods, (30 years old and still blooming) or Potters of Wigan (herbal products for 200 years). By the time I got to Stand 217 - Chefaro, (hums along with “Che Sera, sera”), featuring Red Kooga Energise as a chewable pastille, I was experiencing my old lead-foot syndrome.

But there before me on Stand 221 I had a vision, a towering cathedral made - not of matchsticks - but several hundred plastic pots of Natures Aid vitamins. I was dazzled by Ginko Biloba Extract, Rhodiola Root, and extract of Milk Thistle. A Mission Statement was proffered, but I must admit I was more impressed with the edifice.

The gluten-free choice

I was impressed in a different way by a stand selling gluten-free foods which are of serious significance to those who suffer food intolerance. Ener-G products include a range of gluten-free breads and pastas and some rather tasty pretzel ring (I know, because they offered samples).

Presiding over them was a bright-eyed lady sporting a Bisto Kid hat and a delicious middle European accent. She certainly believed in her product and between feeding me pretzels made me realise that in spite of my allergic response to big trade shows, I was surrounded by companies whose products were, after all, about our well-being.

Thirty-five years ago, a tiny baby down our road almost died because his coeliac condition was identified only when he was rushed to Great Ormond Street. He lived, but in those days his mother had huge difficulty tracking down gluten-free foods. So thank heavens for Ener-G and other like products.

After the show, I walked in dazzling spring sunshine along Brighton seafront and the salt sea-breeze tasted like champagne. Thinking what I had left behind, I longed for the birth of the Virtual Reality Exhibition where I could edit out Mission Statements and crowds, and let my mind wander from stand to stand, all captured in my very own palm pod sitting right there in the sunshine on Brighton beach.



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