Last week the shortlist of the 2017 Free From Food Awards was published. Incredibly this year marks the tenth anniversary since the awards were launched and it’s amazing to think how far we have come. Just a glance at the 2017 shortlist soon gives you a good feeling about where we are headed next.
I have only been in #freefrom ‘world’ for seven of those ten years. My son was one when he was diagnosed with his allergies and I vividly remember ‘creating’ a #dairyfree Easter egg for him. I bought a ‘normal’ Easter egg and used the cleaned out plastic packaging as a mould. I melted down the only dairy free chocolate I could find, poured it into the mould and put it in the fridge! Didn’t look great but it was my only option back then!
So far this year I have already managed to find 3 #dairyfree chocolate Easter eggs in various local supermarkets and it’s still only February. Just five years ago I never thought it would be possible.
Tomorrow I plan to have a ‘family ‘ celebration of Valentine’s Day with my husband and children. I have managed to buy my son a ‘box of chocolates’, chocolate cupcakes and some ‘fake’ Magnum ice cream. I will probably be cooking a gluten free pasta dish and if he wanted it I could even top it with ‘fake cheese’. He will definitely want #freefrom garlic bread – so I picked up some of that when I was in my local Tesco today. If he decides he wants a pizza I could make him one of those too. Just head to any #freefrom freezer section and you may be lucky enough to have a choice of #glutenfree pizzas.
Not that long ago I would have had to make all of the above from scratch. I don’t mind doing it. I know it’s healthier but isn’t it great to have the option? That’s why I am so grateful to Michelle Berriedale-Johnson and the team who have made the Free From Food Awards so successful and so important.
Later this week I plan to take the children out for a half term treat. We thought about heading into London on the train. As usual I will be taking a bag of #freefrom foods for the journey but I am optimistic that once we get into town we will find several places where we can find some #freefrom foods to ‘grab and go’. Just one look at the long list of entrants to the Food To Go category on the shortlist is enough to fill anyone with confidence.
Two other new categories that are to be welcomed are: Foods designed for Children and No Top 14. It’s great to see that in just a few short years, manufacturers and retailers have started to realise that it is not just adults following a gluten free diet for trend reasons that need a wider variety of suitable foods. There’s no denying the trend has been a major part of the staggering growth of the free from food category but the level of entry to these categories show that many people are working very hard to produce foods that are suitable for all – and appealing too.
The winners of the 2017 Free From Food Awards will be announced on 28th March at the Royal College of Physicians. We will be there and will be live tweeting all of the winners and runners up as they are announced. So put the date in your diary and in the mean time continue to enjoy the delicious benefits that have come our way as a result of these awards and keep an eye out for all the new products coming to market any day now.