If you happen to be in London this weekend, do go along to Earl's Court and pop into The Real Food Festival. A fantastic food show that allows you to taste wonderful food and drink while also supporting small producers, it's a great place to spend a few hours. There is something for everyone, and a key focus of the Festival this year is about educating people about healthy, sustainable food from an early age.
The first thing I noticed on entering the show were the animals - baby lambs, pigs and calves, as well as their more grown-up counterparts.
There was also a Sheep Show, which illustrated some of the realities of real food production by combining education and entertainment very effectively. They even demonstrated how to sheer a sheep, something I dearly hope I never need to do, but which was very interesting indeed!
There were a number of demonstrations and talks going on throughout the day, and there are also some top chefs scheduled to attend and present including Raymond Blanc, Giorgio Locatelli and Thomasina Miers. The ethos of the Festival is to promote good, seasonal, nutritionally dense food and drink that has been produced in a sustainable and ethical way, and it features over 400 producers.
I met some really interesting people and tasted some fantastic products, many of which I will blog about in more detail over the coming weeks. I met tea producers, cheese mongers, bakers, and also folks who market products they really believe in like the Coffee Fairy, a fantastic ethical coffee company who I have blogged about before. I enjoyed beautiful hand made chocolate buttons with gorgeous patterns embossed on them, naturally flavoured fudge and an amazing sweetening product made from fruit and carob that is reminiscent of the finest honeys. I also met The Queen of Cupcakes and learned about Vegware, totally recyclable food packaging and catering disposables made from plants. It was hard to believe they were not conventional products as they looked and performed exactly as traditional paper plates and plastic knives and forks! I was really impressed. One thing that was absolutely consistent about all the exhibitors was their passion for their products. Everything was produced and marketed by people who genuinely care about their product and their service.
You can also learn about The Slow Food Movement, The Soil Association, The Real Bread Campaign and the School Farms Network. Seriously, there are so many organisations out there concerned about what we eat and how it is produced, and if you are not already, once you learn about them you will be too! Action Against Hunger, the international humanitarian charity committed to ending hunger worldwide are also active at the Festival.
If, despite all the tasting, you feel a bit hungry whilst wandering about the show you can visit the Riverford Field Kitchen and enjoy dishes cooked by one of the leading organic food distributors, the Mad Hatter's Tea Party or stop by one of the many stands offering freshly made, ethically sourced burgers, sausages and bacon sandwiches and even veggie burgers. I plumped for the Field Kitchen as I found it hard to eat meat whilst looking at baby animals!
I was seriously impressed by The Real Food Festival, and by some of the exhibitors in particular. I'll share some of my favourites with you over the coming weeks and as most offer mail order, UK readers can still enjoy their products even if they can't get to London this weekend. But if you do find yourself in the capital, I urge you to pay The Real Food Festival a visit. I'm sure you will be glad you did.
The Real Food Festival is at Earl's Court in London (nearest tube Earl's Court) from 7th to 10th May. For opening hours, please click here and for more information, click here.