Over 150 representatives from the Irish food sector gathered in Wicklow on Monday for the 6th annual Taste Council of Ireland Food Summer School. The focus of the event was ‘The Rural Food Community’, with attention given to how the small food sector could contribute to a sustainable and prosperous rural Ireland.
Kevin Sheridan, Chair of the Taste Council of Ireland and co-owner of Sheridans Cheesemongers,opened the event, commenting: “Artisan and specialty food producers, along with family farms and fishing communities, offer a real and sustainable future for Ireland’s rural communities. The rich natural resources of Ireland’s lands and sea, together with our people’s ingenuity and creativity, are the perfect mix for a thriving food based rural economy.
“Tourism and food are Ireland’s two biggest economic drivers and when they are brought together to complement each other more effectively, they can provide sustainable jobs and communities in even the most isolated areas of the country.”
Speaking also was Aidan Cotter, CEO of Bord Bia, who stressed the issues surrounding an increasingly urban population. “In 1950 just three of every ten people living in the world lived in cities; today more than five out of ten do, and by 2050 the United Nations projects that almost seven out of ten people will live in cities. And, notwithstanding initiatives around urban farming, it is clear that the production of food is now, more critically than before, the business of rural communities. And the more successful our rural communities are at the production of food that consumers want, the more thriving, prosperous and vibrant they will be,” he said.
Kevin Sheridan added, “In Ireland, where we are searching for ways to encourage economic activity in rural areas, as emphasised in the CEDRA Report, direct selling and short chain supply models are ideal. However this is not happening in Ireland as evidenced in a European wide IMPACT research project which found Ireland had the least number of farms involved in direct sales, at just 0.5% compared to the EU estimated figure of 20.2%.”
“We know there is a strong demand from Irish consumers for local food and we need to ensure all the necessary supports are in place to support artisan producers and rural communities," he concluded.
© 2016 - Checkout Magazine by Donncha Mac Cóil