November 7 2008, 7:40 AM
On an unseasonably warm afternoon last week, the brains behind Colorado's burgeoning natural foods industry gathered at Boulder's St Julien Hotel & Spa to talk shop at the annual Naturally Boulder Days conference. Amid conversations of agavÃ© syrup and quick, healthy meal options for families were rumblings about up-and-coming businesses. But the new stars didn't emerge until the event's closing, when new shops pitched their ideas to industry execs, including the Izze founders. Kudos went to OogavÃ© soda, Doc Popcorn (which recently opened an outpost in the Cherry Creek Mall), Simply Boulder's agavÃ©-sweetened marinades and sauces (think lemon pesto and coconut peanut), and Spice's sugar-roasted nuts. Pitch judges think these Colorado food companies are most likely to go big, regionally and nationally. For now, though, they provide tasty options for holiday gift baskets.