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Festival food

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Festival food

festival food

For many, summer isn’t just about sun sea and sand. For many, the season brings a promise of festival fun and great music acts. But with these weekend and sometimes week-long events, where does food come into it? From free-from to sustainability, we look at how well festivals cater to everyone or whether it’s simply about the music.

We’ve talked about dietary requirements here before at HGEM, and restaurants and supermarkets have certainly upped their game as more and more people look to change their diets whether through health or the environment. When it comes to festivals, without a high street of restaurant menus to browse, guests are somewhat limited with what food trucks have to offer. And with vendors often in the festival spirit themselves, can people with allergies really trust they are being looked after?

Options vary from festival to festival of course but with it being prime time for sales, some vendors may be inclined to pile high and sell high as Jason Horn, here at HGEM, has experienced. “Being gluten free, there is nothing worse than having salad at a festival leaving you with zero energy, and by choosing an alternative, you may run the risk of getting ill. I’m limited as it is but I often find vendors use gluten and wheat to bulk out their product, making it poor quality for everyone. Supermarkets have made their burgers and sausages gluten free, so food trucks should too, this also removes the risk for cross contamination as far as burgers go. In terms of buns, Handmade Burger Co. have it right, keeping all their gluten free buns bagged up. I personally would rather pay more for quality’.

You’ll no longer just find your typical burger van in a festival field. Food trucks are embracing all kinds of cuisine, with chefs enjoying the challenge that comes with creating meals to suit many. With so many diets to cater for, its vegetarians and vegans who will fare well this year. Perhaps this is because it’s easier for vendors to cater to these diets without the worry about cross contamination, they can serve both meat and vegan options from the same truck. Last year, BBC radio did a feature around vegan Caribbean food in which it mentioned Deli Jerk Centre, a Caribbean food truck at Nottinghill Carnival, where its vegan dishes were their best seller among vegans and meat eaters alike.

In terms of sustainability, unsurprisingly, the major festivals don’t do so well here. Reading Festival came under fire last year after thousands of tents were left stranded with festival goers under the impression that all tents would all get donated to charity. In general, a surprising amount of food trucks still only have plastic cups on offer which can see thousands littered at the end of each day. Festival vendors would do well to encourage guests to buy their reusable cups, making a margin over such a short period as well as positively impacting the environment.

Smaller festivals can often be your best bet for sustainable values, with locally sourced products and a focus on quality. HGEM’s Rich has experienced this: “Arc Tangent, a Bristol rock festival only hire suppliers based on their sustainability principles. They also make it easy to recycle on site and they don’t allow anyone to leave tents behind. Another festival (UK Tech Fest), leaves the site cleaner than they found it – it’s become a cultural thing for everyone to tidy up after the festival and has been promoted to keep the costs down.”

Overall, there is no doubt that sustainable options and allergy friendly food will continue to improve across the food truck industry. Festival food is a little more expensive than that of a food market where there is a captive audience, but something you can’t beat is being able to see your food cooked fresh in front of you and the atmosphere that festivals provide over restaurants.

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