Monday, 10 February 2014

Free From Food Awards 2014 - one food judge's story

Free from food awards 2014
On your marks, get set, sample!
Breakfast like a queen, lunch like a princess, dine like a woman on the bread line.
That is how the old saying goes. 

Except it doesn't does it? Because history is so rarely about herstory. So in the interests of swinging the pendulum the other way, I thought I'd rewrite the old saying to include the other 50% of the population. 

And why would I start rewriting idioms? Well, because I want to tell you about being a food judge for this year's Free From Food Awards and I wanted a nice, breakfast-based idiom to start the piece and got a bit annoyed at the male bias. Anyway... 

Regular readers will know that I had the honour of being a judge last year too, but here's what happened in 2014...

Free from breakfast cereals
Nom nom, time for breakfast

This year I was judging 'breakfast foods' and 'scones, sweet tarts, sweet biscuits and cookies'. (You see why I started off by mentioning breakfast and rewriting the saying, etc?!)

Free from food judging
Judges hard at work
First up, there were 25 breakfast cereals to judge.

So it was eyes down for some silent tasting (we're not allowed to influence each other with either beatific expressions or violent retching), then we awarded each product a mark out of 10, and battled it out to choose a shortlist. 

free from food judging
It's not all sweetness and light, we argue vehemently!
The debating bit is the most lively part and it clearly illustrates that there is truth in the saying 'One woman's ├ęclair is another woman's kale chips.'  

And of course I can't reveal any of the decisions that were taken...

gluten free breakfast cereals
Lots of yummy gluten free oats
Then it was time to start on more breakfast foods, which involved breads, plant milks and plant yogurts. There were certain products that were delicious. So delicious, that whereas most of the products are just nibbled at, at this session we were fighting over the very last scraps and begging Michelle to bring out some more! Again, can't say a word but remember to look out for the shortlist... 

Free from yogurts
Devastation caused by food judging
And finally, after lunch it was on to scones, sweet tarts, sweet biscuits and cookies.

Hmm. Well the operative word in this category was SWEET, because it seems that when manufacturers choose to exclude gluten, dairy or egg, they panic and heave in a ton of sugar instead. Umm, to make it 'taste better'?
2014 free from food awards
Where were the dairy and egg free biscuits and cakes?
And while I'm having a rant, where were the dairy free and egg free products? One of the other food judges, Sarah from Sugarpuffish, is intolerant to dairy and of the 19 products, she could try just two.

TWO! What is that all about? One of the gluten free biscuits (not pictured) that is a copy of a 'normal' (dairy free) biscuit, had even  included dairy just to, you know, make it 'taste better'?? 

Free from food judging 2014
Harsh comments were reserved for some products...
 Let's just say that certain free from brands need to understand that the way to a girl's heart is through her stomach, but only if the food is free from ALL the main allergens.

 Thanks again to Michelle Berriedale-Johnson (pictured below!) for inviting me to be a judge, and remember to look out for the 2014 Free From Food Awards Shortlist, which will be published here on Wednesday, 12th February, 2014.
Michelle Berriedale-Johnson hard at work

All photos subject to copyright, please contact me if you want to use them.

© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved


What Allergy said...

Excellent! I agree about the ingredients. If only more companies thought about more than just 'one allergen' they would expand their market hugely. I had to miss out on trying loads in the categories I judged because they either had nuts, nut warnings, dairy or tomato - these three allergies together make freefrom food a challenge.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Thank you m'dear! And let's rant on until there's change...who decided that gluten and dairy should get all the attention?

Time that truly free from products took centre stage and - final gripe - leave out the damn egg for all the egg allergy sufferers!