I’ve recently experienced my first Allergy & Free From Show (about time too). I’d seen so much about the event and as someone with a sensitive gut, was keen to get a taste of it. My Mum and I navigated our way through London – overground, underground to Olympia (can you tell I don’t live in London?!) where the event was being held. We went on the Saturday (9th July), the second of three days it was running. I thought I’d share my experience of the day for those who haven’t been before and also share the products I picked up.
Thoughts about the day
- Venue. The word ‘vast’ comes to mind. What a huge venue! Walking into the venue, there were rows and rows of stands – must’ve been HUNDREDS of exhibitors there, it was a question of where to start?! There were a real range of exhibitors too, from food to beauty to homeware – all free from and/or allergy friendly. Some lovely scents as you walked around, lots of delicious food to gawp at (and try) and plenty of head turning to take it all in!
- Low-FODMAP. Great to see the introduction of low-FODMAP-specific companies out there, raising the profile of those pesky FODMAPs! I went and said hello to Fodify Foods and Lauren Loves. Lauren said that next year there’s likely to be far more low-FODMAP stands and I’ve a feeling she’s right. Awareness is growing! I think their products are great for those in the elimination phase who are after low-FODMAP convenience. I also came across Free From Fairy’s stand which was attracting lots of interest!
- Food, food and more food. Are you hungry? There’s so much to pick at as you walk around – I learnt that my Mum is a serial ‘picker!’ It’s a great opportunity to try new foods, including seaweed (more on that below!) Obviously it’s not all low-FODMAP, but you can just eat to suit your body.
- Atmosphere. There was a great buzz in the air. Everyone there with a common interest and an anticipation of new products. There were live food demonstrations, talks (sadly didn’t get to any of these as was too busy checking out all the stands!) and food samples coming out your ears (not complaining!) It was also great to see FoodMaestro there talking sugar and their app (which is always evolving!)
- Pricey! Blimey was it pricey. Save up beforehand if you’re planning on buying lots! I fully appreciate that production costs are likely to be slightly higher for free-from products, even more so in London, but I can’t help but feel that companies milk this market demand as much as possible. With diet becoming more and more of a lifestyle choice, events like these are a marketers dream. It should be about supplying individuals with dietary requirements the products they need, but sadly, it always comes back to making a profit. That’s the way of the world!
- A great day out. A FREE event (although tickets were £10 when I first ordered them, which was later refunded!) and a really enjoyable day out. I highly recommend it! Have a mooch, try something new and count how many times you say ‘mmm’ as you walk around!
Products I picked up at the Allergy & Free From Show
- Seaweed. “Would you like to try some seaweed?” Said the man. “Errr, yes okay, why not!” My mum and I replied. The man sprinkled a little into our palms. Wow, did it taste just like the sea! I’d never come across a product like this one before – I mean, it’s seaweed! But we were soon enlightened about a number of benefits. Not only a natural flavour enhancer (no need for added salt), but also a number of health benefits including: a great source of antioxidants, great range of vitamins, contains all the essential amino acids, good for the digestive system (low-FODMAP!) – the list goes on. You only use a tiny amount per serving and it can be added to just about anything. You can add it to cake mixes, smoothies, omelettes, soups, pasta, rice – again, the list goes on! Ready to give it a go.
- Raw cacao. Mention of the word ‘chocolate’ and I’m there! I know I’m well behind the times with raw cacao which I’ve seen in numerous recipes, but until now I’ve always used cocoa powder. I know this product has a multitude of uses so bring it on – sweet tooth will be happy.
The day was topped off by going via Knightbridge on the way back, popping into Harrods (as one does, darling) and indulging in dark chocolate covered strawberries!! THE BEST. Let’s not mention the price…when in London.
If any fellow bloggers are thinking of going along to the Free From & Allergy Show next time, it would be great to meet up and make a day of it. Let me know if you fancy it!