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Can food festivals improve wellbeing in the UK?

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By Laura Nelson, PhD researcher, Faculty of Business, Law and Tourism

The desire to travel and taste unique and authentic dishes is becoming an increasingly motivating factor in our travel choices and gastronomy is receiving increasing attention from researchers, event organisers and tourists themselves.

In particular, food festivals have become increasingly popular across the UK with visitors not only wanting to consume local foods, but contribute to the process of creating them, thus in turn emphasising a unique identity and place where authentic food can be found only in local markets and restaurants.

Fresh, healthy foods

An increase in demand for local foods is evident in the way they are linked to different ideals, such as improving the environment and supporting the local economy. This in turn provides a ‘feel-good’ factor associated with consuming them.

People are also associating wellbeing with food consumption, with our choice of nutrition contributing to our physical, mental and social health. More recently there have been moves to use theories drawn from positive psychology such as happiness and wellbeing as a lens to examine events in terms of their potential contribution to ‘a good life’.

Fresh, healthy fruit and herbs

As people are becoming increasingly aware of fast food horrors and the importance of healthy eating, event organisers are beginning to identify a gap in the market and linking food and wellbeing together, for example the Wellbeing and Super Food Festival in Taunton which offers:

  • Holistic chef demonstrations
  • Superfoods and healthy healing foods
  • Free from foods
  • Plants, herbs and flowers
  • Organic, vegan and vegetarian foodie stalls
  • Healthy living products
  • Wellbeing coaches, yoga and pilates
  • Fitness trainers and boot camp fun
  • Outdoor fun and activities for everyone
  • Eco and green living solutions and advice
  • Professional health and nutrition consultations
  • Vegan and organic beauty products
  • Mindfulness, relaxation and meditation
  • Engaging with creativity
  • Complementary therapies including massage
  • Enchanted woodland adventure with storytelling and crafts for children

Personal wellbeing is dependent on food consumption, and therefore further research into the relationship between food festivals and their influence on visitor wellbeing in the UK would be highly beneficial to event success, sustainability and economic return. In addition, this could also act as a catalytic influence and considerable turning point for anorexia and obesity challenges, mental health and life satisfaction challenges in the UK today.

Laura is a PhD researcher in the Department of Tourism, Hospitality and Events at the University of Sunderland. Learn more about her work on ResearchGate or read more about studying Tourism, Hospitality and Events at the University of Sunderland.

Published: 23 November 2018