The realfood festival is dedicated to bringing together the finest produce and products from the UK and abroad. It is a celebration of small and large producers of delicious, healthy and nutritious food direct from the farmers. There are lectures, animals, cooking shows and endless bits to taste.
Trends this year: lots of cupcakes, olive oil, sausages, coffee and chocolate brownies. Several places selling fresh herbs or kits to grow them. Tons of muesli and granola. Impact of the credit crunch? Several producers saying that they would no longer have an organic range of their food because it was too expensive and customers were shying away from buying it.
Or they were having both, and getting more business from the non-organic. One chocolate producer said that he tried FairTrade and wouldn't bother with it again. Another claimed that it was too expensive for them to go pure organic, with all the regulations involved.
Winona (pictured) is an ex-pat from California. She noticed that people in the UK didn't bake cookies and cakes. And they don't sell ready-made cookie doughs here either. So she started making dough for friends and expanded it into a business, Winona's Fresh Organic, with ready-to-bake cakes, loaves and cookie doughs. She has sold in the large supermarkets but is switching now to small independents where she can connect with the customers in a more meaningful way and have more freedom in pricing and quantities.
Across the huge hall, Bacheldre Watermill was introducing its artisan baking kits for children. They are all organic and include the basic ingredients, so that children just have to mix them together and bake spelt & oat cookies, chocolate muffins or gold bread. This won the Best New Organic Food Product Award in 2009.
On to extra virgin rapeseed oil, Sussex Gold Rapeseed Oil, from West Sussex where it is grown and pressed. The family also makes the only english sunflower oil on their farm. It won a gold medal in the Great Taste Awards. The pellets, which are a left-over by-product of the rapeseed production, are fed to the cows since they are high in protein.
Rapeseed oil is very healthy, containing half the fat of olive oil and being high in omega 3. In Canada it is called canola because of sensitivities.
Interactive cooking classes were being led by Barney Haughton, chef proprietor of the famed Bordeaux Quay restaurant in Bristol. It was the first eco-restaurant in the UK and has won numerous awards. Each student at the class had their own stand complete with hot grill where they could follow the chef and make their own vegetable risotto with pesto. Looked and smelled yummy.
Vegware, a TreeHugger favourite, was back. They make eco-friendly and disposable catering products that are compostable. Their latest thing is coffee cup lids which are made of cornstarch. realfood festival
More on Last Year's realfood festival
Real Food Festival 2008