Ireland is bringing something fresh to the table with the Farm to Fork Movement. ‘Farm to Fork’ promotes growing, managing and serving locally grown food to a community, thereby boosting local farmers and offering healthy and ethical food options to the locals. With such rich agriculture, Ireland’s natural landscape is a perfect candidate for this movement.
In order to understand this present-day culinary phenomenon, it may help to look at Ireland’s past. The concept of enjoying food in Ireland wasn’t always a popular one.
The biggest example of this, of course, happened in the 1840s with the Great Famine. Before then, the Irish lived solely on potatoes. Poor Irish farmers grew them on what little land they had. There was no sense of variety at mealtime. For many, food was sustenance, rather than something to be enjoyed. When the Famine hit, more than a million Irish died and many emigrated to escape. It would be some time in Ireland before the idea of enjoying food and eating in plentiful amounts was a possibility, and even longer before Irish food would be celebrated.
In many ways, Farm to Fork is a rejuvenation and return to the Irish ‘love of the land’ mindset. It starts with farmers – many of whom come from families owning the land for centuries. Ireland’s food regulations are far stricter than those in America. Everything from the way livestock are treated to various dyes found in breakfast cereal are under tighter restrictions. These farmers abide by Ireland’s food codes, valuing quality over quantity and anything processed. They then sell their goods either directly to locals to eat or to local restaurants and grocers.
One of these farms is Broughgammon in Ballycastle. No stranger to the Farm to Fork movement, it offers tours and classes for foodies who want a first-hand experience on their visit to Ireland. Broughgammon is just one of many places in Ireland with a passion for natural, healthy food. The concept carries over into restaurants and even hotels throughout the island. Many types of accommodation feature garden tours where guests can pick herbs and spices for sampling or cooking. And if you really want to go all out, you should visit one of Ireland’s grand markets. Held throughout various times of the week, these markets offer the best local goods found in the area. They are a great representation of the region’s culture, people, and, of course, delectable specialties.
In recent years, the University of Cork has joined in on the movement. Campus restaurants serve meals made from crops grown on its own land. It’s the first university in Ireland to do this, but definitely not the last.
On a social level, Farm to Fork serves as a way to promote community and all things local. It fuels the local economy by supporting and promoting local businesses. Knowing where your food comes from provides peace of mind considering the health benefits of eating organic, natural whole foods. The health benefits and the undeniable financial boost it gives local farmers ensure that those following a ‘farm-to-fork’ lifestyle will enjoy a healthier way of life.
On your next trip to Ireland, it might be worthwhile to do some research and make ethical food choices that support the farmers you pass by on your travels.