Last weekend I attended the first ever Vancouver Gluten Free Expo. It was awesome. Luckily I was one of the many that got there early and so I didn’t have to wait in line very long, but it looked like there was a huge line up when I left as it snaked up and down the hall to the doorway.
As it was the first event there was a tiny bit of room for improvement, such as a larger facility, more booths, more talks and having the booths ready to go by the time the doors open, but some of those improvements are just because I liked it so much I wanted more of it. It was great to go around a room and feel confident that you could taste and try whatever it is you wanted without fear of getting sick, and that is exactly what I did.
One thing I didn’t know is that there would be talks/workshops. There were two listed on the door, but I don’t recall seeing them on the website. Had I known in advance I would have planned my visit around them. I did, however, get a chance to catch one of Ellen Bayen's talks about what it is to be gluten free (for Celiacs and people who are gluten sensitive). For me, it was a repeat of what I already know. However, I was there with my boyfriends Mom and she said it was very eye opening and learned a lot from it. So it was a great talk for newbies or people who have Celiacs in their lives and even though I already knew most of it, it was still very interesting. Ellen runs the website “The Celiac Scene” which I love because it helps me find safer places to eat all across Canada and the US, when I travel.
It’s a toss up to what my favorite part was. I really enjoyed discovering new products, such as Boring Porridge who should really change their name … to “anything but boring porridge” because if I didn’t taste it I probably wouldn’t have bought it! It is very delicious with yogurt. I also was able to get some buckwheat flour and ran into the owners of Origin Bakery in Victoria, who were asking whether the flour was tested and certified gluten free. I never have problems with their dedicated bakery, but I was even more impressed knowing they make sure their incoming ingredients are certified. One of my favourite things to buy is Curry flavoured Vegi Pate and sure enough Kootney Kitchens had a booth and priced their product basically at 2 for 1. Fantastic! Panne Rizo was also there which is my other favorite gluten free bakery but I had already stalked up the day before at their bakery so I didn’t have to try and break through the swarm around their booth.
There were many booths, many new products and many products I was already familiar with. The great thing about familiar products, such as the Udi’s, Glutino, El Peto, Kinnikinnik, etc is that I can taste those things I’ve been eyeing up but not sure I want to spend 7 bucks on if it’s not so great. At the expo I could find out for free!
The price of the expo was free with donation to the food bank. I thought that was a fantastic idea. Gluten free products were encouraged and I think they should definitely do that again if they have another event next year.
My hope for this event is that it just keeps getting bigger and better, because for a Celiac, it’s one heck of a fun way to spend the weekend!
Speaking of fun weekends. I was lucky enough to attend the Celiac Conference when it was last in BC (Victoria to be precise) a number of years ago, and it is back in BC. This year’s event is being held in Kelowna on May 25th - 27th. If you can make it there, it’s a great way to eat great safe food all weekend, learn tonnes of new stuff from all the speakers and check out the expo that is usually part of the conference. For more details check out the Kelowna Chapter of the Canadian Celiac Association here: http://kelownaceliac.org/2012/01/14/kelowna-2012-national-conference-agenda-now-available/