Against the Grain is the name given in 2016 to an annual gluten-free food festival at Camden Lock Market, London. It is one of three gluten-free food events in London that are repeating annually, the others being the Free-From Festival and the Allergy and Free-From Show.
In 2016 Against the Grain Festival featured –
- Street food vendors already normally trading at Camden Market such as Feed me Primal
- Street food vendors that are not normally at Camden Market such as The Lab Pizza
- Live demonstrations of gluten-free food preparation and some samples
- An indoor section featuring several stalls selling food suitable for taking home to eat later
Compared to the Free From Festival and Allergy & Free From Show Against the Grain is probably best approached as a trip to Camden Market for brunch, lunch or dinner (or all three!) rather than as an opportunity to pick up lots of gluten-free food deals and free samples. If you go along with this expectation you should be happy with the experience and enjoy some great food. Camden Market is always a buzzy, lively location to visit and even without the festival there are some gluten-free highlights such as Cookies & Scream and an Honest Burgers.
However in 2016 Against the Grain also featured several vendors offering product samples and selling food to take away at significant discounts, so there were deals to be found for intrepid gluten-free discovery and bargain seekers. Here are mine 🙂
A dedicated Kind Bar post is incoming! Kind Bars are very popular in the US and launched in the UK in October 2015. An ongoing US FDA and Kind Bar story centred on their nutritional virtues is almost as compelling as the delicious Kind Bars themselves so I will write about both. These are certainly amongst the nicest tasting snack bars I have ever tried and have been a treat of mine on flights back from the US. Now they can be a treat on flights from the UK too J
Completely new to me was Raw Gorilla, with a small range of raw (below 42c), organic, vegan and gluten-free granolas and bites. Their Founder and Marketing Manager were present and after a great conversation with them both I duly took away a couple of boxes and a bag of bites. I promise to share my impressions in another post.
Newly rebranded from Superfoods, if you have shopped in Wholefoods or Planet Organic you have probably seen their range of ‘superfood’ products like Goji Berries, Mulberries and Cacao Nibs. At this stand thanks to the lovely Anne I got my first ever taste of Yacon Syrup, a very interesting sweetener thanks to a high prebiotic content (from inulin). The taste is lighter than and more complex but similar to treacle. Think sticky toffee pudding with hints of maple and more smokiness, more subtle sweetness.
I have been a Pulsin’ fan since very shortly after my celiac diagnosis in 2011. One of the surprising things I needed to find was a new source of protein powder. Protein powders do not normally feature gluten-containing ingredients but are often at risk of cross contamination and multiple samples from a very popular brand I was using did actually test positive for gluten using ImuTest test kits.
So discovering that Pulsin’ produced everything in an entirely gluten-free facility enabled an easy switch. Since then Pulsin’ have massively expanded their product range and distribution channels and are a frequent and welcome presence at free-from events.
There were significant discounts available on both powder and bars. The 50g bars normally retail at £1.59 with an occasional 2 for £2.50 or 25% off deal available. 18 bars cost me £18 at the Festival, the best price I have ever enjoyed.
At the Clearspring stall I was surprised and pleased to see that Clearspring are also now offering‘pasta’ products made without wheat or grains. I liked the honest labeling they are using for these. Too often I see product names and packaging featuring high value ingredients like quinoa and amaranth but when you actually inspect the ingredient list you find that these make up a tiny, tiny proportion of the actual ingredients with cheaper things, like rice, corn & potato starch dominating. The Clearspring pastas contain what you would expect and based on the sample enjoyed at the Festival itself, they are a very useful and arguably nutritionally advantageous substitute for gluten-containing or any grain-based pasta.
Upcoming Gluten-Free Food Events
Free-From Festival is at Brick Lane, Shoreditch on Bank Holiday Monday 30 May and the Allergy & Free-From Show at Olympia from 08-10 July.
Lots of London Gluten-Free Meetup Club members will join these events. If you would like to meetup for a chat and swap stories and recommendations then please do join us via RSVPing to one of the Meetup Events.
There is also a Fare Healthy event which is gluten-friendly rather than gluten-free and which appears likely to occur again in 2016. I did not attend either of the prior Fare Healthy events. Did you? Would you recommend it to fellow gluten-free folk?
Are there any other annual London gluten-free type events?