I remember the first GFAF I went to back in 2014. It was the very first time since my diagnosis that I had been around that many people with similar dietary restrictions as my own, and it was an emotional experience. Seriously – imagine living every day as the odd man out, and then getting to experience an entire expo where EVERYTHING is all about people just like you! Just think of how amazing it would feel to be in a huge hall filled with families and individuals full of similar experiences and ready to share their own tips and tricks to living gluten free. The feeling of freedom that gluten free people like myself get to experience at their local GFAF Expo is on the same level as that one time you found a burger joint with GF buns and a dedicated fryer. It is exciting, it is emotional at times, and it is absolutely worth experiencing year after year.
This show is also awesome because while it caters to the gluten free crowd, it also is friendly to those that have additional or different food allergies. You will find a ton of nut- and dairy-free vendors here, both those you might have already brought into your household and new ones that you might love. There are also brands like Enjoy Life Foods that boast product lines free from multiple allergens including shellfish and soy. Whether just gluten free or avoiding other allergens, this expo is an incredibly valuable opportunity to sample things before you buy and gain knowledge from the brands' ambassadors along the way. On that note, I want to remind everyone that you know your health situation better than anyone else. If you are not able to tolerate a product, do not sample. Show organizers take no responsibility for discussions between visitors and exhibitors, nor for any situation that may occur as a result of those conversations.
I am looking forward to seeing some old local favorites like Spinato's and Picazzo's (two of the BEST gluten free Italian restaurants in the Phoenix valley), but I am also excited to see new faces like Celiac Cutie, a t-shirt company with some really funny/punny shirts that are perfect for the celiac in your life (*hint hint*). I am disappointed that one of my absolute favorites, Aleia's Gluten Free, appears to not be there this year, but was pleased to find out that Canyon Bakehouse is this year's blogger sponsor for the expo. If you haven't given Canyon Bakehouse goods a try, I would highly recommend them. Not only is their texture unparalleled, they have one of the best damn everything bagels available! Other returning favorites of mine include Path of Life, Ronzoni, and Lundberg Farms (these booths not only have great samples year after year, but I proudly buy their products in store).
A few tips for the Expo:
Looking forward to meeting anyone and everyone I can during the Expo! If you see me, come say hi!