I can’t believe it has already been a week since the 2015 Food Allergy Bloggers Conference! I totally meant to do a write-up on the event earlier in the week, but between almost getting caught in a blizzard, working, and getting some big, exciting life-changing news (yay!), it has been a busy week!
Anyways, I had a BLAST at the conference. I remember hearing about it for the first time about a year ago and thinking “someday, I’m going to attend that conference.” And a year later, there I was! Since I was there with Enjoy Life, I got to experience the event as both a sponsor and an attendee. The best of both worlds!
The conference started on Friday with a wonderful speech from Enjoy Life Foods CMO Joel Warady about how smaller, emerging brands are revolutionizing the world of food and changing how Big Food works in our country. As an employee of Enjoy Life, it was so inspiring to hear him speak so passionately about how he and the rest of the team at Enjoy Life are making a difference in not only the food allergy world but also in paying attention to and changing the quality of food in manufacturing practices. That dedication to the food industry in general and to consumers are so important and commendable.
The day continued with a talk from my good friend Erica aka Celiac and the Beast and another big-name allergy blogger, Keeley McGuire. For those of you familiar with the food allergy blogging world, these two are basically rock stars. I was able to see Erica at FACCWDW a few weeks ago, so I was glad I could see her again so soon! And I’d been wanting to meet Keeley for a while after reading her blog, so the whole thing was basically just a big fangirl moment for me. The two of them gave a great talk about how brands can work with bloggers to get better results. As with most things in life, marketing strategies are very important. But what I loved about their talk was that they really encouraged sponsors to get to know the blogger and personalizing the relationship, instead of just sending out blanket statements to everyone with the hopes of getting some press. Having been on both sides of the relationship, it was a really cool lecture to be at.
I spent most of the weekend behind the Enjoy Life booth handing out samples and answering questions, just like any other consumer event. This one was a bit different though because all of the attendees were bloggers, and it was capped at about 200 people which made it much more intimate. I absolutely loved this, because I feel like I got to know a lot of consumers and connect with them more than I would at a higher attendance event. My favorite part of the expo portion of the conference was definitely seeing the wide range of bloggers that came in. The world of food allergies is really a lot more vast than people realize…I met so many people whose stories went beyond the scope of just avoiding certain food allergens and encompassed more aspects of wellness like environmental changes and stress-management. I think this well-rounded approach is so important, and I definitely learned a lot just talking to everyone one on one.
I’m so glad that I was able to attend this event, because it gave me such a wide perspective on not only this blog, but the entire network of food allergy bloggers that are out there. It really is a tight-knit community. I was able to see old friends and meet new people, some of whom I’d heard about on social media and through other bloggers and vendors that I know. There were definitely a lot more fangirl moments (especially when Cybele Pascal from Cybele’s Free to Eat said she remembered me from last year’s FACCWDW and when I met Jules Shephard from GF Jules). Also, I discovered my new favorite restaurant in True Food Kitchen.
You know, sometimes people come up to me and say something along the lines of: “Wow, it must suck to not be able to eat anything.” But you know what? It really doesn’t. In the words of our keynote speaker Robyn O’Brien: “The silver lining of food allergies…is that they bring us together as a family and create a strong bond.” That fantastic quote pretty much sums up my experience at FABlogCon and in the past few years. And that is what it’s all about.
PS – for more reviews of the event, click here!