Ever since we started to write about ‘freefrom’ foods we have faced somewhat of a dilemma – and have consequently taken a lot of flak from manufacturers of foods that have set out to deliver health and, by the way, have also been ‘freefrom’. Hopefully, as the nutritional profile of freefrom foods improves, the gap between the two will narrow, but…..
The problem is that ‘freefrom’ foods, in their first years at least, were aiming to be just that. Their ambition was to get as close as they could to the foods that allergy sufferers and coeliacs would have eaten before they were diagnosed. They were neither aware, nor really interested in, the concept that it was the food that these people had been eating that had made them ill in the first place and that what they really needed to do was to re-assess their whole attitude to food, and, indeed, to their lifestyle, if they seriously wished to improve their health.
But that, for the manufacturers of truly ‘healthy’ foods was the whole point. They believed that the kind of manufactured food that ‘freefrom’ was trying to ape was denatured and not only valueless in terms of nutrition, but positively harmful. But foods that were truly health-full tasted quite different – less sweet, more textured, often quite ‘strange’ – for many, an acquired taste.
So, when we included ‘raw’ foods or yeast-free rice breads in our tastings along with supermarket, sugar and fat laden crackers, biscuits, breads or cakes, tasters who were looking for a ‘normal product’ look-a-likes, and whose palates had not yet come to terms with ‘real’ health foods, marked them right down – and we got castigated by the healthfood manufacturers for promoting foods which might be free of gluten but were no better for you than the gluten-filled originals!
As I say, the gap is narrowing as freefrom manufacturers realise that it is no longer acceptable to load freefrom foods with fats or sugar to compensate for the lack of gluten of dairy products – but there is a way to go and it is unlikely that, in the immediate future at least, it will be possible to directly compare a standard ‘freefrom’ product with its truly healthy counterpart.
However, as far as foodsmatter.com is concerned we have finally found our way – through our new nutritional supplement and superfood section. Here we will be able to write about, review and assess freefrom healthy/superfoods on their own merits rather than in competition with standard freefrom foods â€“ like against like rather than like against very unlike! By next year we hope to be able to add a freefrom superfood category to the FreeFrom Food Awards.
We feel that this will allow us to cater for both sectors of the allergic/intolerant/health-seeking community – those who merely want to avoid the ingredients which make them ill and those who want to change their lifestyle so as to promote positive health rather than just trying to avoid ill health.
So, watch this space….