The Daily Astonishment

Mary Oliver wrote: “Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” If nothing else, this well-loved verse gives purpose to the day. What astonishments can I find to tell about?

How about my recent visit to Houston for the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE): 8,000 dietitians. 400+ exhibitors. Astonishing number of protein bar brands.

This is an annual event that brings together members of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for 3 days of professional development, continuing education, hobnobbing, awards, etc., allowing for frequent visits to the accompanying huge trade show. I was there with the Food and Wellness Group, which was introducing The Colors of Health–a program designed to increase fruit and vegetable consumption. (see the preview here)

As you might expect, most booths attempt to attract visitors by giving away stuff–mostly product samples, shopping bags, and tons of brochures, flyers and other collateral material. Given the audience, you would expect the focus to be on eating healthy, right?

Coca Cola booth at the Food & Nutrition Expo: "Lots of choices, calories optional"
Coca Cola booth at the Food & Nutrition Expo: “Lots of choices, calories optional”

Astonishment #1: The Food and Nutrition Expo’s major sponsors include Coca Cola and Pepsico, among other corporate behemoths. They may have been promoting their anti-hunger foundations or their vitamin waters…but really?

Astonishment #2: Monsanto had a booth. Too bad it wasn’t a dunking booth.

Astonishment #3: There must have been at least 10-15 different protein/breakfast/energy bar brands there. Probably to keep the dietitians awake between presentations.

Astonishment #4: There was plenty of chocolate and yogurt to be had. Let’s face it, these are two very super superfoods.

These were the top four astonishments during my trip to FNCE. Also I should note that Houston has an enormous convention center, but that’s not astonishing, given that it’s Texas.

If I pay attention, I will surely have more astonishing things to tell about soon.