Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Organic Food Festival in Bristol

On September 4th I dragged my husband and took my daughter to the Organic Food Festival in Bristol. Amazing. There were loads of companies, not just showing their food products, but also clothing, bedding, skincare, haircare, and similar products. Most booths were not just showing but selling their products, too. It was almost farmer's market like in some areas where fresh vegetables and meats were sold. Free samples were occasionally available (never enough for me!), and there were several companies selling organic ice cream (although remarkably I only bought 1 cone). And some wonderful chocolate companies, namely The Chocolate Alchemist (making chocolate out of other things?) and Montezuma's Chocolates. It was a warm day, and so it got a little uncomfortable inside the display halls. Many of the booths were outside or in tents, which was considerably cooler. The event was very well attended; last year it was estimated that 40,000 people came through. I'm convinced that a good 40,000 were in the enclosed hall when I was struggling to get through, carrying my daughter (hubby would not set foot in that hot humid building). It's gratifying to see how many companies and products there are, many of which are right in the UK.

People in the UK and the European Union in general are very aware of their food origins. Not just how they're grown but where they're grown and how well the growers are compensated. In other words, there's a lot of attention paid to Fairtrade as well as British grown. Non-genetically modified is also rather important. Organic gets a bit difficult for many farmers because certification costs are significant and organic farmers tend to be smaller. We've talked to a couple of farmers who don't use industrial fertilizers nor pesticides, but haven't bothered to certify. So if you know the farmer, you can get what is organically grown produce even though they can't name it as such. And knowing the farmer isn't so difficult here.

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