They say that whatever goes up must come down. And for critics of the clean eating trend that saw Londoners spiralise and alcalise their way through 2016, last week’s airing of the BBC Horizon documentary Clean Eating: The Dirty Truth is being touted as the nail in the coffin.
In the programme, scientist Dr Giles Yeo investigated the science behind the claims of the movement’s biggest names; including alkaline diet pioneer Dr Robert Young who is now facing jail time for claiming his diet cured cancer.
Gluten and sugar-free queens Deliciously Ella Mills and sisters Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley also featured, with the former publicly distancing herself from the term “clean” eating altogether, labelling it “fad”.
On the face of it, probably not the best lead up for the third annual Fare Healthy, the food, fitness and wellbeing festival at the Old Truman Brewery this weekend.
But founder and chef Rose Lloyd Owen, who also runs healthy catering company Peardrop, has come out swinging against the critics, arguing that the term has been “twisted” and “muddied” by the media.
“It’s completely lost sight of its original meaning, which quite simply meant food that was fresh, unprocessed and whole,” she writes in a blog post. “The term has been misunderstood to the extent that those who have actually been very pioneering with their recipes, are now being attacked.”
“Can I please ask if it has damaged us to learn that you are able to make spaghetti out of squash? Or that sweet potatoes help sweeten chocolate brownies?”
Deliciously Ella and the Hemsley sisters are among the festival’s huge line-up of speakers, which includes chefs Tom Hunt and Gill Meller, nutritionist Amelia Freer, and food and wellbeing personalities Natasha Corrett and Anna Jones.
The programme covers everything from live cooking demonstrations and supper clubs to expert panel discussions such as ‘Grains Explained’ and ‘Nutrition Fact or Nutrition Fiction’. Top workout warriors lead exercise demonstrations and classes, while nutritional therapists will hold one-on-one consultations in the ‘Self-Love Surgery’, a first for the festival.
Rose concedes that cutting out food groups like gluten and dairy on the advice of a blogger without nutritionist qualifications is not the answer to overall wellness, but points out the need for events like Fare Healthy to deliver all the facts.
“When I co-founded Fare Healthy a couple of years ago my greatest ambition was to inspire, entertain and motivate people to eat, move, think and, as a result, feel better.
“I believe in a tolerant, inclusive and balanced attitude, which is why I have gathered together a really diverse mixture of voices and talents over the weekend. Let’s allow people make their own choices.”
Fare Healthy is on 4&5 February, 9.30am to 5.30pm at Old Truman Brewery E1 6QR. General admission is £25 per day. Visit farehealthy.com for the full programme.