If you’re a veteran of Natural Products Expo West, you know attendees are looking for samples, special show pricing and product information. But perhaps another motivation for Expo West attendance could surpass the urge to stockpile these three resources: finding exciting, new products.

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In a day and age when information is at the ready (often too much information is at the ready), it is actually a shocker when we can’t find the answer to a question. Say, for example, “What are we eating?”

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In today’s natural products industry, some say it is the best of times, and others, the worst of times.

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Were you like the millions of Americans who rang in the New Year by making a resolution for 2012? Funny thing about those resolutions. They rarely make it to the spring. Here’s a resolution I challenge you to keep: Get to know that person staring back at you in the mirror a little better.

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In 1986, Top Gun and Crocodile Dundee were hot on the Silver Screen. Americans bought countless cassettes and records of the hit song, “That’s What Friends Are For.” And for many of the participants in the 2011 WholeFoods Retailer Survey, it was right around the time they got their start in natural products retailing. With an average age of 25 years old, these stores’ legacies now span four decades, all of it beginning at an important time in natural products’ history.

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Welcome to the 2011 edition of the WholeFoods Who’s Who of Manufacturers and Suppliers, the only reference tool of its kind in the natural products industry. On our eDirectory, you will find listings of hundreds of companies and thousands of individuals who work for these companies. Using this directory, you’ll be able to track down company names when you know the person you are looking for or vice versa.

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A new court case involving the food industry has got some people thinking we’ve got another petty lawsuit on the table. But, I’m wondering, should this one have all of us worried?

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It doesn’t matter if you’re a science whiz, a bookworm or a history buff. If you’re a retailer, you’ve got to be a math person. Or possibly even a numbers addict—no matter how much you despised algebra in high school.

Think about it. How many times per month do you make sure your books are in order? Or that your part-timers’ hours add up properly? Or that the quantities of your latest shipments are perfect?

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Whenever I hear the New Jersey Lottery slogan, “Give your dreams a chance,” I can’t help but imagine what I would do if I won the big jackpot. I have a few earmarks nailed down: the local animal rescue center, college funds for my son and nieces, and my county’s homeless shelter and soup kitchen. “Who else could really use a handout?” I always find myself asking. Recently, I surprised myself with a name that came to mind: our very own U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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Enough is enough, already, with the technological advances. Let me rephrase that: Enough with the technological advances that make us lazy and blunt our mental acuity. Hear me out on this one before you throw your iPad at me. Gadgets that make life more efficient or safer or greener can be things of wonder. But, there are times when a step forward in technology means a step backward in our understanding of how things work.

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