About 40 organic food vendors crowded the University Center for the second annual Organic Food Fair, which gave out free food samples and educated students on the power of organic living.
Hundreds of students showed up to the fair, which ran from 10 a.m.–2 p.m. The free food gave different organic companies a gauge of how well their products would sell at on-campus convenience stores, such as the Arbor and the Corner Store. Companies at the food stands included Live Out Loud, Nika Water, Santa Barbara Bar and Cocomo Joe, amongst others.
The fair was organized by Lance Heather, assistant director of UCen Dining Services, and Tracy Williams, the account executive of a firm behind the product “Nancy’s Organic Probiotic Greek Yogurt,” which is a 53-year-old Oregon-based brand sold at stores such as Whole Foods.
Williams said the fair piqued students’ interests regarding healthy eating, adding that students asked a lot of questions about the foods they were sampling. “They are really interested in what they are eating,” she said.
In an effort to entice students to give feedback on the products sampled, the UCen raffled of an iPad Mini at the end of the event. Students participating in the raffle were required to comment on their favorite products.
Heather said data from the raffle will take several weeks to compile but will eventually be used to determine which products will stay and which will be cut.
“We can accommodate all of the vendors here,” Heather said. “What will take some time is determining which of the products currently offered will have to go to make room for the new products.”
Several business representatives said they felt confident at many students’ responses and the attention their products received. Joe La Croix, owner of Cocomo Joe — a company offering a healthy, coconut-based alternative to snack bars — said he was confident his products would make it into campus stores.
“We are not on campus yet,” La Croix said. “But I think we will be — based on the responses we’ve gotten.”
According to La Croix, the idea behind the Cocomo Joe products and others like his is to make improved foods that “taste good and don’t offend” the body.
The event has grown substantially since its first appearance in March 2013, when it drew just about 28 vendors. Additionally, Heather said UCen Dining Services will hopefully hold such events more often, possibly with one occurring every Fall Quarter and taking place at larger campus locations like Storke Plaza or Corwin Pavilion.
A version of this article appeared on page 4 of Thursday October 10, 2013′s print edition of The Daily Nexus.