You may recall I was delighted to be asked as a judge for the Free From Food Awards 2015. This week (which also happens to be Allergy Awareness Week) saw the announcement of the winners of the awards at a ceremony set in the swanky Royal College of Physicians, which I was doubly delighted to be invited to as well.
I’ll be honest, I had to steal the #OverExcitedCoeliac badge from @DavidGF for pretty much the whole evening – canapes I can eat! A whole bar of beers I can drink! Oh look, people I know from twitter! It was like an allergy-geek convention of lovely. After one-too-many sips of champagne we settled down to hear the results of the hotly contested categories, which you can find in full on the Free From Food Awards website. Here are some of my highlights & observations from the evening:
The FFFA do a great job of championing the little guys – the best moments of the night were hearing the cheers, squeals and exuberant chat from small regional producers at their wins and ‘highly commendeds’, which are blind tasted against the big brands and supermarkets. It introduced me to lots of new products that I must seek out and try (my list at the end of this post).
On the flipside, it’s fair to say that big guys Tesco stormed the awards, going home with 4 gongs and a clutch of commendations, which may leave some artisans rolling eyes, but is a fair reflection of the obvious hard work that has gone into understanding and responding to the demand in the market for reasonably priced, decent quality options that cater for multiple allergies & intolerances. Kudos to them.
The breadth of the market and products was evident, with everything from raw super foods to pork pies crammed in, with so much in between. It will get even broader next year with the introduction of a ‘sports supplement’ category. It’s sometimes an uneasy grouping of motivations under the ‘free from’ banner, with lifestyle paleo enthusiasts shouldering those with anaphalaxis. I must admit to politely smiling and nodding my way through a few conversations about knitting your own yogurt before tucking into the pork pies; but fair play to the FFFA team for making this such an all-embracing movement. May greater understanding among us help everyone in their goal of better awareness and availability of great, inclusive food. Cheers!
B’s ‘Must Trys’ from the Free From Food Awards 2015
- Gluten Free Uprising Ready Roll Shortcrust Pastry – These infectiously enthusiastic Welshies may be onto a winner.
- Coconut Jam by the Coconut Merchant – I know, ubiquitous coconut, but the judges were raving about this.
- The Foraging Fox – Beetroot Ketchup – T will love this one!
- Explore Asian – Edamame & Mung Bean Fettucine – ok, I already tried it, but love how new and interesting this is.
- Karkli – apparently like the best bits from bombay mix. I’m sold.
- The Free From Bakehouse– Rosemary & Raisin biscuits – I actually tried these extensively at the awards, but must head back to Borough Market soon to get some!
- Get Fruity bars – like every other fruit/oat bar, but with ten times the flavour.
- And if you haven’t had a proper pork pie in years, you need to track down overall winners, Voakes, with haste!