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Celebrating its milestone twentieth anniversary, Natural & Organic Products Europe returned to the ExCeL London on 17-18 April, for its 2016 edition.

Widely regarded as the flagship event for the UK and European natural and organic products industries, the show’s extensive three-theatre seminar and demo programme – spanning two days – plays host to a number of high-profile brands and top experts from across the natural and organic world. 

Back for another year, the natural and organic products show, Europe’s biggest natural and organic trade event, attracted 9,288 attendees to its new ExCeL London venue.

Over 9,200 natural and organic industry professionals were out in force over 19-20 April, as ExCeL London was transformed into a vibrant showcase of the very best in natural and organic products at Natural & Organic Products Europe.

Split into the areas of Natural Health & Natural Living, Natural Beauty & Spa and the Natural Food Show, andboasting a fresh new look to accompany its move to ExCeL London for 2015, Europe’s biggest trade show for natural, organic, fair trade, free-from, vegan, vegetarian, and eco-living brands, featured over 600 exhibitors from 40 different countries, with a packed programme of focused seminars and live cooking demonstrations.

Fantastic, impressive, amazing, exceptional, and wonderful – is just some of the feedback received from attendees so far; with many describing the 2015 edition as taking the event to “the next level”.

“The reaction to this year’s show has been overwhelmingly positive,” says event director Carol Dunning from organiser Diversified Communications UK.  “Having been at Olympia for 16 years, moving the show to ExCeL was a huge move for us and our industry, and I’m delighted to say that it has worked out to be the right home for our show, and the right place to reflect the growing importance of the natural and organic industry.

“The support from the industry has been tremendous and integral to the success of this year’s event.  There was such a fantastic ‘buzz’ across the show floor and the feedback we’ve received so far from many of our exhibitors and visitors is that they loved the new venue, and enjoyed the proximity of all the hotels, cafés, bars and restaurants creating a real campus feel, which is unique to ExCeL.”

A massive foodie, I was instantly drawn to the Natural Food Show section.  In addition to nearly 70 Soil Association symbol holders showcasing their latest organic food and drink innovations, there was also set to be a wealth of organic produce bearing certification marks from the Organic Food Federation, Organic Farmers & Growers, EU Organic (Euro Leaf), and USDA Organic, just to name a few. I prepared myself to be immersed in the world of natural food and drink including speciality, Fairtrade, sustainable, vegan, vegetarian, sustainable, raw and organic food and drink products.

Sticking with the edibles, my first find was Rebel Kitchen’s variety of flavoured milks (spelt mylks) – designed as the perfect dairy-free addition to you children’s lunch box (they’re made with coconut milk). I was able to sample and take home three of their flavours – choco mylk, orange choc mylk and banana mylk. My fave flave was the banana mylk, with the orange choc mylk coming a close second. Though that’s not to say that the choco mylk wasn’t a delectably pleasurable experience for my parched taste buds too.

So what’s the natural and organic element of this oh so tasty half pint treat? Well apart from being made with ethically sourced coconut milk, they contain absolutely no additives, no preservatives and as they are lactose-free they can be enjoyed by vegans, vegetarians or those on a dairy-free diet. Plus, the choco element actually comes from cacao – raw, unprocessed chocolate, which delivers a healthy dose of antioxidants and magnesium without the additives and added sugar of chocolate. From my chat with the representatives at the stall (yes, I did actually talk to the stall owners, not just shove freebies into my eco-friendly tote bag), they also have some adult versions of their dairy-free mylk drinks – coffee mylk, matcha green tea milk and chai milk.

Sticking with the drinks theme, next up was new exhibitor Juiceman, a company that produces 100% organic, cold pressed, unpasteurised juices, nut milks, tonics, shots, cleanses and much, much more. By being totally freshly made without any high pressure processing (HPP) or pasteurisation, their juices are as nutritious as they can possibly be. I sampled the cashew nut milk which with it’s rich and creamy taste could easily make it into my weekly diet. Made with 100% organic cashews, which are abundant with essential minerals and vitamins, and combined with potassium and copper rich dates, antioxidant filled vanilla and alkalizing Himalayan salt, this is a super nut milk.  According to the vendors, it can be drunk on it’s own or accompany a breakfast meal.

But the best thing about their juices (other than being totally nutritious, organic and delicious) is that they have a great sustainable aspect due to their zero to landfill policy. Everything is reused. One of their super original ideas, is that their fruit and vegetable pulp is used in the production of organic dog treats and horse feeds! Also, their almond and cashew nut paste is reused as flour, and their ginger and lemons are dehydrated after juicing and make great tea infusions.

As well as an impressive range of exhibitors, Natural & Organic Products Europe hosted two full days of seminars (in the Natural Products Talks Theatre) and live cooking demonstrations (in the Natural Food Kitchen). Eco-chef Arthur Potts Dawson, Slow Food UK Ambassador Andrew Jones (executive chef at Chamberlain’s of London), Andrew Kojima (MasterChef 2012 finalist), and organic pioneer Craig Sams were just some of those taking part in the 2015 line-up.   There was also two exclusive Soil Association presentations discussing market trends and opportunities, including the organisation’s new campaign which supports independent retailers to further grow the organic market.

Planning a bunch of things to do with this kids this Easter? Well look no further than a family-friendly egg hunt on an organic farm!

egg

The lovely people at Green & Blacks and the Soil Association are giving away 5,000 dark and milk chocolate eggs these Easter hols.

About 50 farms from Devon to Fife are hosting farm visits throughout April, complete with fun activities like tractor trailer rides, egg painting, meeting the animals, farm walks and even the chance to see newborn lambs. Most will take place around the school holidays.

Soil Association eggmeister, Rupert Aker, said:

Farm visits are great fun. We’ve been hosting them for over a decade and kids love them. Farmers get a lot out of them too, which is great. Organic farms are lovely places to visit. They are often more traditional than conventional ones, with more wildlife to see and a better mix of crops and animals.

To check out what’s happening in your area, to book a place or download a free Easter egg hunt activity book just click here.

We all love a gift set. Especially if said gift set is comprised of skin care products. A little gift set is a great way to try new products, testing their suitability for you skin, without spending loads of cash up front. So once again I was more than happy to test Essential Care Rose Gift Set for the benefit of you all.

roseboxwebThe set consists of a Creamy Coconut Cleanser, Organic Rose Petal Tonic, Organic Rose Moisturiser and Organic Avocado Replenishing Cream. All products are hand made in Suffolk with organic ingredients. I have meticulously tried each product and here is my verdict:

Creamy Coconut Cleanser

Promises to be biodegradable and made form 88% organically grown ingredients. Packed with coconut, extra virgin olive oils, sage and eucalyptus it should lift away impurities and leave my skin smooth, clean and supple. The cleanser was light and smooth and really easy to apply. I left it on for about 10 minutes (although it doesn’t state how long to leave it on for) but this was perhaps too long as it did start to dry on my skin. For anyone expecting a full on manufactured coconut smell, don’t fret, it actually smells just a touch herby which I assume to be the sage. Essential Care suggest you take the cleanser off with a damp cotton pad but I found this a bit messy so opted to wash it off instead. It left my skin feeling clean, fresh and soft and if I didn’t have quite dry skin I doubt I would have needed to use a moisturiser. A lovely easy to use product.

Organic Rose Petal Tonic

A rehydrating and soothing tonic for dry, sensitive or mature skin, containing rose petal water and it’s essential oil. This was my least favourite product of the set and not one I would go on to buy myself. You’re meant to spray the tonic onto your face and use as either a refreshing spray or after cleansing to tone. Although not adverse to using sprays such as this, all I’ll say is waterproof mascara is a must, as I found out at work. I also found the smell quite overpowering for a facial product. It definitely smelled of roses, but the kind you used to make as a child by stuffing a load of rose petals into a bucket of water, stirring then stewing. That however is a personal view and if you do like that smell then this will be a product that does as it says.

Organic Rose Moisturiser

For all skin types, a regenerative, toning and rehydrating moisturiser containing organic roses and aloe juice. This moisturiser was absolutely amazing. Light and creamy, it absorbed into my skin so easily. It has a fresh and clean smell with just a hint of rose which I really liked. As I’ve mentioned I have quite dry skin but found this moisturiser made my skin feel soft and supple and I didn’t have to use a lot of product to achieve this. A little definitely goes a long way. A gorgeous product and one I would buy in future.

Organic Avocado Replenishing Cream

Antioxidant and deep nourishing for dry or mature skin. Full of avocado and olive oils, shea butter and lavender to promote skin renewal. Again, at the risk of repeating myself, this cream was just amazing. My elbows are a particularly dry area and often crack and are sore. This cream is certainly deep nourishing and extremely moisturising. I applied it solely to my elbows and found that within a couple of days the area was smoother and softer. I loved the smell, which definitely has a hint of the lavender and again a little goes a long way but makes a big difference. A must for those of you with dry skin. Light and easily absorbed it’s a cream I will buy again.

This is a great little gift set and I would be pleased to receive it as a birthday, Christmas or valentine’s gift. Also, as well as being organic, all of the products in the set are suitable for vegans. Although I wasn’t a fan of the Rose Petal Tonic, I loved the cleanser and creams. They’re great for dry or sensitive skins and another plus is the fact that a little goes a long way, making it good value for money. Essential Care have a range of products and is definitely a brand I will revisit in future.

Most of us want a decent tipple this Christmas and if you’re anything like the team at Hello Eco Living you want the best ethical, organic or fair trade wines and beers out there.

Organic grapes for gorgeous ethical wine
Organic grapes for gorgeous ethical wine

We’ve spent the last couple of months sampling some fantastic drinks that you can enjoy this festive season without questioning your eco credentials. From wine to Port and over to larger we have found a collection of taste sensations  for Christmas 2009. Enjoy…

 

Pomegranate Wine – This year’s “must talk about” wine

Wow, Pomegranate wine – this is really different and such a treat. In fact we think that this would make a really great Christmas pressie and will have you being the centre of attention for bringing the most imaginative drink to the table.

Our Chris gave it his verdict: “On the nose notes of cherry and pomegranate dominate the lively bouquet. A fairly dry wine bursting with complexity and fairly a high alcohol content of 13.8 percent. It could pair well with a rich Italian dish, though we drank it with salmon and cheese and it did not over power. The pomegranate fruit is an unusual flavour for wine but becomes increasingly pleasing and familiar with each sip – we will be certainly drinking more of it in time.”

This corker comes from the Rimon Winery in Galilee and combines the health benefits of pomegranates (lots of antioxidants) with the pleasure of enjoying an unusual wine.

Pomegranate Dry wine RRP £21.99

Terra Prima Reserve Port – Hello Eco Living’s Top Pick!

We’re a bit addicted to this sweet, smooth tasting port and will be well on our way to ordering a batch for our Festive Season.

Terra Prima Reserve is an organically produced Port by Fonseca.  We’re impressed that it’s the only organic Port to be found on UK shelves and is available in a stylish green box (although we didn’t get to experience the box, boo). It’s also vegan and vegetarian friendly.

When we asked Chris to give his verdict he said:

A delight to drink and pick of the review – at £14.99 this port can rival those double it’s price – it’s fairly sweet, but full of mouth watering fruits, also good depth and complexity, a true gem, an ideal match with the christmas pud on the 25th or after dinner cheese and crackers.

Fonseca Port has great eco credentials and has long been recognised as a pioneer of bio-diversity and organic production in its native Portugal.  Winning the BES Biodiversity Prize earlier this year for its viticultural practices is a sign that Fonseca has earned its place amongst the great green pioneers of the world.

Terra Prima Reserve Port £14.49 in Waitrose or Booths

2008 Von Buhl Deidesheimer Herrgottsacker Riesling – A German Gem

In our household we’ve been cracking open red wines for possibly the past 6 months, since our fascination with Bordeaux began. So when a white gets mentioned I jump to attention – I love white wine but it’s often tough to find a good one. This one is definitely up there. It is so moreish. We drank and we simply wanted more.

A bit of background on this particular Riesling – Since 2007, Germany’s organic wine growing area has grown by 60% and now, almost 5% of all German vineyards are organically farmed. However, for them it’s not just about consumer demand, but about quality and respect for the environment. Changing the way they farm to become organic or biodynamic is no small feat – it requires commitment and significant cost but those that make the switch are convinced that by doingso, their wines will better reflect the “terroir” on which they are grown, resulting in a purer, more complex wine with more balance and natural character.

2008 Von Buhl Deidesheimer Herrgottsacker Riesling – £13.50, Jascots Wine Merchants

Freedom Organic Larger – Right here in the UK

We’re not just all about wine and port this festive season; we’ve also catered for the larger drinker. Freedom Brewery has a lovely story as well as being a tasty beer.

Freedom is Britain’s first lager only producing microbrewery is based on a farm next to a deer sanctuary in Abbots Bromley, Staffordshire (sounds like a very nice place to work!) It is situated on top of a natural underground lake of Burton brewing water – the world’s finest hard water for brewing. Water is drawn from this sustainable source via a bore hole and used without any treatment for the brewing process. The site has Soil Association accreditation for producing organic lager.

The taste is light with hints of caramel – a very pleasant drink for the boys and girls this December.

The products are also suitable for vegetarians and vegans (seaweed is used in the filtration process as opposed to fish based products). Freedom lagers are left to mature for a minimum of 4 weeks to enhance the flavour.

Freedom Organic Lager £24 – direct from the website for a case of 24 x 330ml bottles