Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Review: Organic Food Festival, Bristol

Last weekend was the Organic Food Festival in Bristol. I've been to this event loads of times although not, I think, last year. A few years ago it was so heaving with punters hoovering up the organic freebies, they introduced an admission charge, to stop the overcrowding.

Whether it was because the Festival was a bit earlier in the month than usual, or because people are struggling to pay for 'premium' organic prices, the festival seemed much quieter this year. It may be that there are simply more of such events going on. Anyway there were certainly less fruit and veg type stalls, which meant it didn't have the lovely 'harvest festival' look which I so enjoyed on previous years.

Having said that, there were still some really nice products, and the one that me and my friend really went nuts for was organic olive oil from Palestine, courtesy of a company called Zaytoun. Not only was it the best olive oil I'd tasted in years, it was very reasonably priced, and it helps Palestinian families who are trying to make a living under pretty oppressive circumstances. Their soap also smelled fantastic.

Second thing we liked was organic Bruichladdich whiskey which just tasted like Scottish heaven. Unlike normal whiskey, there was none of the harsh 'burn' you get at the back of the throat, it just slipped down. Which at 46% is a little dangerous. At £35 a bottle, however, you'll definitely be saving it for serious celebrations, rather than necking a swift one before bedtime. But lovely whiskey, lovely friendly Scottish people, and also lovely-looking bottles. But right out of my budget until I write a bestseller, sadly.

Slightly more within my budget was Stroud Brewery, who hail from my home town. There used to be a brewery in Stroud up until World War Two, when it unfortunately got bombed. (There's lager-drinkers for you). There hasn't been one since, until the new Stroud Brewery got off the ground five years ago. We tried a few of their brews and agreed that the Budding Pale Ale was our favourite. It's named after the man from Stroud who invented the lawnmower, by the way.

I think what all these products had in common was an idea that they definitely hailed from somewhere, and were made by people who really believed in what they did. For me, that was maybe more important than the 'Organic' label. I hope that the festival will be back to its bustling self next year; maybe making it a weekend later in September would help?

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