FNCE in the Windy City

The Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE) was a whirlwind this year. Not only because of the extensive wind and rain we had while in Chicago, but also from the onslaught of food and nutrition interaction! Many say FNCE is to a dietitian as the big game in February is to a football player. I couldn’t agree more. From the best booths at the expo to my thoughts on this year’s FNCE, keep on reading!

Ocean Spray – Um, could you miss this booth?! Although it was at the far back of the Expo Hall, I’m pretty sure everyone either waited in the massive line to jump in the cranberry bog, saw it on social media or just heard about it through word-of-mouth from other FNCE-goers.

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Boggin’ with a swan

The United Soybean Board’s Soy Connection – I’ve been fortunate to go on a few farm tours and see first hand what happens to get the food from seed to what’s on our tables, but not everyone has had the opportunity or access to do so. I think using the Virtual Reality headsets to create the connection between farms and consumers was a smart way to share information using fun and trending technology.

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VR tour of a soybean farm

I was thrilled to present at FNCE this year with Ellie Krieger and Sara Haas (in spirit). I’m grateful for these two strong ladies who helped make it happen and couldn’t have done it without them! Thank you to everyone who attended our presentation and cheered for our two sous chefs, Manju Karkare and Cara Harbstreet, too. If you haven’t already tried out the recipes, head to my Facebook page for the details!

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Manju, Ellie, myself and Cara

I want to wrap up by touching on a few things I didn’t hear when I was an intern or even now as a dietitian.  Even though you’re surrounded with thousands of dietitians and food industry professionals at FNCE, it’s by no means the time to let your nutrition science guard down. How many products did you see at the Expo with questionable health claims and labels? Just because the item is featured at the Expo doesn’t mean the company isn’t using marketing tactics to influence consumers and dietitians to recommend the products. It’s our job as nutrition experts to ask questions so we can present facts to our clients so they’re able to make informed decisions.

FNCE is the one nutrition conference I would recommend any dietitian and intern to go to at least once every few years, if not every year. The food and nutrition industries are constantly evolving and changing as new research is done and FNCE is a great way to get all the latest info in one spot. FNCE is an investment. Yes, it is expensive if you look at it purely from a monetary perspective. However, you’re able to earn CEUs, learn about valuable new research, sample new food products and network with food and nutrition professionals from around the globe. Plus, there’s no better way to catch up with your fellow RD colleagues in a fun environment in a new city each year!

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