Earlier this month, I joined more than 8,000 food and nutrition professionals in Nashville to attend the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ 2015 Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE). As the premier conference for registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs), FNCE presents a great opportunity to hear from industry experts, learn about new trends, network, and share best practices. Representing the National Peanut Board, I had a fantastic time at our booth sharing information about our “Perfectly Powerful Peanut,” participating in educational sessions and spending time with my fellow RDNs.
At this year’s event, there was a strong focus on global nutritional health, which was kicked off by the opening session ,“An Innovative Solution to the Hunger Problem,” led by Daily Table founder and former president of Trader Joe’s Doug Rauch. My key takeaway from the session was there’s a lot of healthy wasted food out there that could be rescued and used to feed hungry people in need. Some examples include produce that isn’t the right shape for traditional packaging, dairy foods too close to their expiration dates, and slightly blemished
(but still healthy and safe) foods. And, Doug, through Daily Table, is on a mission to do just that.
As many of you may know, the National Peanut Board (NPB) has an invested interest in combating world hunger so it was great to see the conference theme align with our philanthropic activities at the booth. The National Peanut Board created a special edition FNCE “Peanut Envy” t-shirt for RDNs that says “RDNs and peanuts go together like PB&J” that we gave away at our booth in return for a charitable donation of $10. All proceeds went directly to Peanut Butter for the Hungry, a peanut industry initiative to help malnourished children in developing countries. Thanks to the support of the amazing RDNs at FNCE, NPB raised more than $3,500 for the cause.
And of course, I have to share my favorite foods from the show. Here are my top three.
- Powdered Peanut Butter – I’m so excited to see powdered peanut butter come to market in a big way. It’s been out there for a long time and used by manufacturers in protein rich bars and as a flavoring in cereals and other foods. But now you can buy and use it at home and it’s perfect for smoothies, stirred into oatmeal and yogurt, and even in baking.
- Yogurt, yogurt, and some more yogurt – There seemed to be more yogurt on the showroom floor than I remember seeing in the past. Everything from non-dairy yogurt to Greek and even skyr, which is Icelandic yogurt, and it all tasted great. Several non-yogurt booths incorporated yogurt into their offerings – glad to see that NPB was on trend with our Peanut Butter Greek Yogurt (made by mixing powdered peanut butter into vanilla Greek yogurt)!
- Lentils – Multiple organizations were at the show highlighting the benefits of eating more nutrient rich lentils. Like their cousin the peanut, they provide protein, fiber, and lots of other micronutrients.
You can see from these top three foods, protein was a big deal at the conference. Plant-protein was especially hot and peanuts are perfect to meet that trend.
I had a blast at this year’s conference and look forward to FNCE 2016 in Boston!