Bury St Edmunds Food and Drink Festival: Eating out and eating well in our town

Last weekend welcomed yet another brilliant year for the Bury St Edmunds Food and Drink Festival. The sun was shining and the town was out in full force to celebrate more fantastic local food and expert talent. Indulgent as the event is, Suffolk food and drink businesses are amongst some of our biggest and best attractions; providing 16% of all jobs within the region and helping sustain our town’s thriving tourism market. Celebrating, annually, Suffolk’s £3.5 billion a year contribution to a food and drink industry nationwide worth £109 billion is something worth supporting.

This year I had the pleasure of awarding more of the ‘Eat Out Eat Well’ awards to local food businesses at the Stoves Cookery by Moyes Hall Museum. This award recognises those caterers making it easier for customers to make healthy choices when eating out. On average, one in six of our meals are those ‘eaten out’; whether from a café, restaurant or another caterer. That is why it is increasingly important that food outlets help consumers make the best choices; as in this instance displaying an apple logo in the shape of the heart alongside those healthier choices.

Living well and eating well is an integral part of our general health and wellbeing and yet, in some cases, nutrition and exercise remains more an aspiration than a habit. That is why Public Health England and the NHS work hard to encourage and incentivise healthy eating and exercise; whether opting to cycle or walk to work or dining away from our desks to avoid overeating. It could even be as simple as finding new, quick and easy recipes using fresh healthy produce to revitalise our weekly meals. Nevertheless, the buck stops with us and the nutritional decisions we take.

And yet, for our winners; Café Kottani, Francela, Valley Connection, Wagamamas and No. 4 Restaurant at Abbeygate Cinema, this was also about enjoying and celebrating food. Our winners show a fabulous range of cuisines from around the world- done healthily and delivered locally. We must do more to incentivise this positive spirit of food and drink. Even when speaking with our winning caterers, I could not fail to be impressed by the enthusiasm for their food and dedication for their customers; a winning formula for any local business.

Showcasing this ‘best of Bury’, with home grown chefs featuring alongside celebrity ones, ‘Our Bury St Edmunds’ have added another string to the Bury St Edmunds town bow and incentivised more caterers to get involved. My thanks go out to Mark Cordell and the entire ‘Our Bury St Edmunds’ team for putting on another fantastic year!

Published in the Bury Free Press