Last month I had the pleasure of putting my judging hat on and join a panel to rate new and innovative foods for the Free From Food Awards!
It’s my second year as a judge, and both times have been a real pleasure. I was invited to be part of the judging panel by Michelle Berriedale-Johnson, the Director of the FFF Awards, and add my two-pennies worth from a healthy- and eco-lifestyle perspective. I was honoured to join the ranks of successful bloggers, book writers, nutritionists, and free-from advocates, this time round meeting with Finn from Fin’s Fit Food, Nathalie of the Intolerant Gourmand, Emma Amoscato of Free From Farmhouse, Emma of Love Free From, Jenny Tschiesche, The Lunchbox Doctor, among others.
The judging process
The day started with introductions, hot drinks, and general chit chat. I’m always impressed at how smoothly the days run, when Michelle and Cressida are managing 10+ people, plus 20-30 items for judging for each round!
Over the day we had three rounds of judging. I was part of the milk alternatives judging (my preference, as I avoid cow’s milk because I don’t agree with the ethics, and I have suspicion I’m lactose intolerant), as well as free-from breakfast options and free-from confectionary (serious bonus, so much chocolate!)
For each round, we try the products as they’re supposed to be prepared (some hot, some cold, some both) and judge them blind – the only information we have is their ingredients, nutritional values, free-from claims and price point. Judging varies from person to person, and scores are given out of ten, until an accumulated value is given for each item. It soon becomes clear which items are worthy of an award, while others are picked out for commendable traits – for example, new innovations that give intolerant eaters more choice, or an item that is great value for money.
(Free-from) cream of the crop
While I can’t disclose any winners just yet, the Free From Food Awards 2018 Shortlist has now been announced! As per last year, I was really pleased to try new, innovative products as well as great, steadfast items that make their way into my food cupboard on a regular basis.
This year, I was especially pleased with a few items I haven’t ever come across before. With permission from the Free From Food Awards, I’m happy to say that I’m now a big fan of Wicked Wholefoods Granola, Ooomega Flax Milk, Tyne Chease Vegan Artisan Cheese, Nush Almond Milk Yoghurt, Booja Booja Dairy-Free Truffles, and Raw & Wild Chocolate & Coconut Activated Pili Nuts. I think all of these are not only as good as their regular counterpart, they provide something extra, whether that’s added nutrients, better flavour, or simply more enjoyment.
When will the winners be announced?
Good news – the winners have now been announced! This year, I was really happy to see Booja Booja, Doves Farm, Nairn’s, Nush, Pulsin, and Traidcraft* scoop awards, as they’re all store-cupboard favourites (except Booja Booja, whose dairy-free truffles are extra special treats!)