What a treat I had last weekend. I arranged to visit my daughter at York University and on arriving found the weekend coincided with York’s weeklong Festival of food. I spent a whole day tasting and talking to people who really care about food. There was a great atmosphere, crowds of happy people, producers and retailers coming together in beautiful sunshine to celebrate the true meaning of artisan food and drink. There were demonstrations, tastings and live theatre cooking.

Three things struck me. One, when you bring people together like this, new opportunities arise. Farmers get new customers. Families have fun together in a great environment that promotes healthy eating and sustainability and people learn new ways to grow and produce food. Food has an amazing power to bring people together. Point two, chilies are, (excuse the pun), hot! I have never seen so much chili on so many stalls used in so many ways! There were the usual suspects, from hot chili sauce that measured 1,000,000 on the Scoville scale (a spice ‘Richter’ scale) through to the more unexpected chilli honey and chilli cordial. Both of which I tried- well, it would have been rude not to. Finally and most important of all how refreshing and invigorating it is to meet people who are passionate and knowledgeable about what they grow and produce. Passion in food is an overly used term, but it did apply to many of the artisans I spoke to. I found out so many interesting things from the stallholders. Because of the wettest spring for years it has been a terribly bad year for bees and consequently honey harvests are down by 50%.

Many of the producers told me they wanted to stay small so that they could maintain the quality of their produce; they really were people who cared about the provenance and quality of their food. We live in a time where a few multinationals produce the majority of what we eat, illustrated by this infographic in the Huffington Post. I want to eat food that has been produced by people who care and take responsibility for the products they make and sell. We need to support these independent producers because if we don’t, they will cease to exist and we’ll all be worse off.

If you are looking for a fun, informative and unique way to spend a weekend I can recommend nothing better than a trip to a food festival. Take note; Food Festivals have really taken off over recent years, you may want to be choosey to make sure you pick a festival that truly celebrates the indigenous food of the region as opposed to a commercial spin-off.

A list of food festivals in the UK can be found on The Guardian’s website
Let me know if you recommend any food festivals – if we have enough replies we will list them on our website.

Lin Dickens
Marketing Director

My earliest food memories are of my mum’s baking; coconut pyramid cakes were my favourite.

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