Friday, 17 May 2013

The Allergy and Free From Show 2013


Can't wait!

Not long now!

So good last year!

It seems so long since the last one.

These are the thoughts going through my mind. 

Why am I excited? Well, obviously, the clue is in the title!

Last year was my first time. You can read about it here, if you like.

If you haven't been and are wondering whether it's worth it, well yes, I thought it was.

There are in fact two now - one in London (June) and the other (October) in Liverpool.

If, you do decide to go, what should you be aware of? Well, here are my top tips:

1. Take advantage of free tickets. Download your free tickets in advance here, by clicking on this link.

2. Take a look at the website, to find out about seminars and cookery demonstrations, that are run during the show. There are some new Spotlight sessions, this year, for which you need to book in advance. You can also arrange consultations with organisations such as Allergy UK and the Anaphylaxis Campaign.

3. Take time to plan your journey in advance. Check with rail services/AA before you go - you don't want to get caught anywhere and end up missing anything! Handily, Olympia is situated right by a station.

Right by the station, how convenient!

4. Take a companion - to help you carry your haul home, be your second pair of eyes/ears  (I wasn't so careful as I should have been - I got very excited if something was dairy and gluten free, and forget to check for soya and cashews etc. It was a good thing that I had The Hub to keep an eye on me!)

5. Take a trolley/suitcase on wheels to carry home your haul - or, as we found last year, a buggy may suffice, if it will take the weight of everything on the handlebars! Last year, we found that many of the exhibitors had special offers on their products, for the duration of the show, so it was possible to buy in bulk. Free From foods costing as much as they do, you may well wish to take advantage! 

5. Take cards by all means, but plenty of cash is sometimes easier at a show. It's quicker to hand over, for one thing, but also stall holders don't always have credit card facilities.

6. Take care. You need to be safety conscious, as stall holders and their assistants are not always familiar with allergies/intolerances etc. - for example, some of the stalls are for Vegan products, which have found a following among egg or dairy allergy sufferers. Although I believe the organisers have taken steps to ensure they are briefed, you have to remember that issues such as cross-contamination may still occur, with those for whom it is not second nature. Always check all ingredients carefully and be prepared to ask the questions to which you need answers. 

7. Take care of your kids. Last year I noticed a couple of youngish children helping themselves to free samples from stalls, without parental supervision. I can only hope that their parents knew what they were up to and that they were okay with whatever they were eating. For all I know they could have been going back for seconds of something they had already tried, and were okay with, but it did concern me.

8. Take food. Last year, although you could buy hot dogs at one of the stalls, the venue caterers were clearly not geared up for catering for allergies or gluten free folks.

9. Take time. Last year I rushed in for a short while - an hour. Although I feel that I benefited even from that, I could really have done with longer, as I didn't have time for everything. And this year there is  more to see - there is a veggie fair (V-Delicious) being held in the same venue. This is handy as Vegan products are dairy and egg free (although watch out for 'may contain traces of...' if you are particularly sensitive).

So, what are you waiting for? Click on the link and order your free tickets now! 

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