Bestselling author kicks off Victoria’s first gluten-free festival

Culture Food | Drink

Gluten-Free Health and Wellness Festival @ Victoria Conference Centre (720 Douglas St.)
$5 at ($7 at the door) for the day portion
$25 in advance for Davis’s talk ($30 at the door)

Gluten-free eating is a concept that has exploded in popularity since seminal text Wheat Belly, by Dr. William Davis, revealed the apparent myriad of health complexities behind North Americans’ staple grain. The book has sold millions of copies and sat comfortably on the New York Times Bestseller list for three years running. Davis will be one of the speakers present on Feb. 22 at the first Victoria Gluten-Free Health and Wellness Festival.

The Victoria Conference Centre will play host to the variety of health-themed vendors, talks, and activities—not all exclusively about gluten-free lifestyle, but part of a larger picture intending to build better body through a holistic approach.

Celiac disease is a genetic predisposition preventing the lower intestine from digesting gluten—from wheat and other glutinous grains. “Celiacs” become very ill after ingesting gluten, however many people are learning that even without celiac disease, they may still benefit from a gluten-free diet.

“Victoria is a food-centric city,” observed one of the event’s organizers, Ari Hershberg. A cursory glance around the Cornerstone Café in Fernwood confirmed this—”superfood powerballs” and probiotic Kombucha sodas stock the food display and patrons sip soup-bowl sized mugs of frothy espresso drinks.

Hershberg gave me a rundown of some of the talks happening during the day at the festival, which will include talks by three doctors from Pacific Rim College and food demos by Tara Black and Marion Neuhauser, the owners and founders of Origin Bakery, and Chef Michael Williams of Country Grocer.

The event’s emphasis on building a health and wellness community in Victoria is reflected through the local sponsorship of the event. Origin Bakery, Red Barn Market, and the Pacific Rim College are familiar names that are sponsors for the event.

“About 80 per cent of the vendors are local,” says Hershberg. “There will be acupuncturists and chiropractors, there will be gyms. A room of yoga teachers will be instructing yoga for things like digestion problems and stress, and there will be a theatre room with talks on gluten-free diet, Chinese medicine, and talks for kids.”

The event is divided, with vendors and speakers running from 12–5 p.m., then a separate event in the evening, featuring Davis, that will run from 7–9:30 p.m. Davis will share his theories and thoughts, then afterward, a round-table discussion will give doctors from the city the opportunity to ask him common questions they’ve heard from their patients and on social media.