Fri 4th Jul 2014
Food has become part of the entertainment business by Harold Kingston
Cork farmer Harold Kingston is inspired after attending a Good Food Ireland event in Dublin, showcasing the best of Irish food.
As farmers we rarely consider ourselves as entertainers. Admittedly we have done our best during the silage season if the number of photos taken is any indication.
During the week I was fortunate to attend a Good Food Ireland event showcasing Irish food. On display was all kinds of fish, meats, vegetables and dairy. I know there are many exotic fruits we cannot grow - what was shown is that there is the diverse range we can produce. The ingredients were what many consider basic, only a handful mentioned “wild” or “organic”. This was the type of food grown on your average Irish family farm.
I commented to a Cork man with some gorgeous goat’s cheese how I was impressed with how many different ways the chefs had prepared the foods. His answer surprised me at first: “What we do is entertainment.” Think about it, it makes sense. When you go to a restaurant it isn’t just because of hunger. Watching programs like Masterchef or The Great Irish Bake Off we have all become experts in at least watching great cooking. Taste buds expect to be stimulated by every bite like those of a food critic.
But it is not just the food, it really is the whole experience. The presentation on the plate, the décor of the room, the manner of the waiter. Whether we were thinking of attending a Croke Park concert or a restaurant, we expect to be entertained.
As farmers we have our part to play. Bord Bia and the Origin Green advertising is based on what we produce. It is more than just an image, it is the reality of Ireland. Cattle do live outside amid the scenery for most of the year. The flocks of sheep that tourists love to photograph from their bus are there because of farmers, not Failte Ireland. People do buy into the idea of an Enniscorthy beef burger in a Waterford blaa with Gorey relish.
The members of Good Food Ireland showed real pride in their work, something I found inspiring. Food, and not just Irish food, doesn’t deserve to be traded on international markets as a commodity. Food is not something to be made as cheap as possible, or cheaper, for retailers. Food is definitely not something to be regarded as a by-product of farming, it doesn’t just become food after leaving the farm.