Kelly the Culinarian: #NowGetFit Immersion at NOW Foods, Part 1

Sunday, May 3, 2015

#NowGetFit Immersion at NOW Foods, Part 1

I've had quite the awesome couple of days. First, a huge thanks to staff of NOW Foods, along with Fitfluential, for making this amazing opportunity possible. I feel very lucky to be included with the ranks of these amazing healthy living bloggers for this unparalleled opportunity.

The whole shindig kicked off with checking into a hotel nearby, where these beauties were waiting for me. Holy product mother load.

That was followed by dinner at Glen Prairie. I'd never been, but my GFBF (gluten-free best friend) Alissa has been there multiple times and said it was super yummy, so I was psyched.  We started the night chatting with employees from NOW Foods, which is a massive, family-owned company specializing in high-quality natural supplements, food and personal care items, all created with value in mind and free of GMOs. What I didn't know and learned during CEO Jim Emme's chat was that NOW Foods owns Fruitful Yield, a chain of health food stores in our area. The company dates back to 1942, but has been called NOW since the '60s, and was created as a way to bring down the cost of providing health foods at the store. Now, then more than 1,400 products are sold in 60 countries.

I went for the salmon and have zero regrets. Also, dessert, because a meal with cake is just a meeting. We heard from the managers of all the various lines during dinner so we had an overview of their approach and what we could expect.

It was early to bed for this kid because Friday began promptly at 6 a.m. NOW shuttled us over to LifeTime Fitness for a private workout with the fitness director. Luckily, they fueled us up with gourmet granola bars crafted by the company's chef. We started in the spin studio, which was my first time in spin class in ... months? I forgot shoes and had to rock that workout in flip flops. Sigh. I can't adult.

We rounded out the workout with 20 minutes of yoga, which reminded me how much I need to do yoga. Much more yoga. You could bounce a quarter off of my IT bands. Before we headed back to the hotel for breakfast and showers, we fueled up with a NOW chocolate protein shake that tasted a bit like dark chocolate froyo. Gimme.

The day really began after that with a video detailing the NOW Foods process, then a tour of their facilities in Bloomingdale. I have family who work in both science and food, so this was all sorts of geek fascinating for me. Instead of just testing the final product, NOW tests ingredients as they arrive from the vendor, then uses a sophisticated inventory system to maintain the quality and freshness of all the components. I've always wondered if supplements work because you have to trust that what they say on the bottle is actually what's inside. This is a charge that NOW takes seriously, testing every component for contamination or adulteration, as they call it, which includes traces of controlled substances and drugs. They can also test for GMOs and if the ingredients have been exposed to pesticides or radiation, and continue to test the products for quality throughout the process.
The warehouse is huge
and floor to ceiling with narrow aisles
A few mixed products ready to be fed into the rooms below

Another thing I found fascinating is that labels are kept under lock and key at NOW, counted out for each production to ensure nothing gets mislabeled. The encapsulating rooms were mesmerizing - a product is fed through the machine from the floor above and pressed into tablets, forced into capsules, bottled or sewn into tea packets, then moved along to final packaging. Then, every aspect of the room is sanitized to stop cross contamination, from the ceiling tiles down. The process takes two shifts to complete.

From there, we rolled out to the NOW foods corporate offices for lunch, a tasting and some recipe creation. Tune in tomorrow to read the conclusion, or check out the virtual tour online now.

This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of NOW Foods.


Erin said...

It was so much fun meeting you! Oh man I want to reach through the screen and grab that brownie! haha It was delicious!

Her Heartland Soul

Unknown said...

I think it is hilarious that you did a spin class in flip flops. I don't even want to talk about how tight my legs are bc just looking at the foam roller in the corner makes my legs wimper.

Our labeling process at work is also very strict. It takes several quality checks! And actually labeling problems are one of the most common medical device recall reasons!