Slow Food Councillor for Ireland
Slow Food East Cork Convivium Leader
+353 (0)21 4646 785
East Cork Slow Food Committee Members
Convivia Leader: Darina Allen
PR/Events: Susan McKeown
PR/Events: Gary Masterson
PR/Events Florence Bowe
Joint Treasurer: Ide O' Riordan and Cathriona Simms
A Story of Butter in Ireland
One morning in 2009 at the Ballymaloe Cookery School, one of the students was whipping cream for pudding. She left it to whip merrily in the food mixer while she went off to put the finishing touches to the rest of her meal. Suddenly there was a sloshing sound. The cream had over-whipped and she was astonished to see what was essentially butter and whey in the bowl. She was just about to dump it when I came around the corner, and just managed to save it before it went into the hens’ bucket. I gathered the other students around and showed them the miracle of how cream turns into butter. Their amazement and delight made me realise that over half the group didn’t know that butter comes from cream, or how easy it is to make butter at home without any special equipment. This is definitely a forgotten skill.
When I was a child, butter was part of everyday life on dairy farms, and I learned the simple art of making it from my great-aunt Lil, who lived in County Tipperary. Every farm had a churn, but you don’t need a churn or any specific equipment to make butter; in fact, if you over-whip cream, like my student did, you can quite easily make butter by accident. (I’ve done it on many occasions!) Then all you have to do is drain and wash it several times, knead it until the water runs clear, and then add some salt to preserve it. A food mixer is an advantage, though not essential. You can also turn cream to butter by shaking the cream in a jam jar, though it begins to be hard work.
I’m very fortunate to live in a country renowned for its wonderful butter. In Ireland we grow grass like nowhere else in the world, because our climate is ideal for it – all that lovely soft rain. The Cork Butter Market, which opened in the 1770s and continued to trade for 150 years, was the biggest in the world and exported Irish butter as far as the Caribbean. The butter was packed in hardwood casks called firkins and brought by horsedrawn cart from Kerry and West Cork which are still known today as butter roads.
Originally home buttermakers didn’t understand the science of buttermaking, but were well aware that it sometimes inexplicably could go wrong, so many piseogs (superstitions) prevailed. Butterluck required following all sorts of rituals, like placing a horseshoe below the churn or sprinkling primroses on the threshold of the churning room, though only if they’d been picked before sunrise. In County Mayo, using a dead man’s hand to stir the churn was highly recommended!
Recently I’ve noticed that there’s a deep craving among our students at Ballymaloe Cookery School to learn dairy skills, not only that but I’ve been astounded by the number who get out of bed at 6.30 in the morning so they can learn how to milk a cow, even though they may never need or have the opportunity to do so again. They are intrigued to find out where milk comes from. In fact, they are sometimes disappointed when they discover that we have a little milking machine rather than a three-legged stool and a bucket. They joke that it will look good on their CV – ‘can milk a cow’ is guaranteed to get the conversation going at a job interview!
In his book The Tailor and Antsy, Eric Cross describes the importance of cow’s milk: ‘If you had not the cow you would not be able to live at all....She provided us with milk. Milk to drink and ‘colouring’ for the tea. Then she provides us with the thick milk and with the buttermilk. How could you eat the potatoes without the thick milk; and how could you bake the cake without the buttermilk; and how could you get through the heat of the Summer without the buttermilk – the best drink a man ever had – almost...Next comes the butter...the cow is a miracle entirely, so that a man could scarcely live without her. It would be like trying to hang your hat upon a rainbow, as to be trying to live without a cow’.
Of course, you don’t have to have your own cow to make your own butter, cheese and yoghurt, but it’s not worth the effort unless you have really good milk. The quality of milk will reflect what the cow’s had to eat, but shopping for good milk can be tricky. Remember, ‘natural’ is not a world that means much on food packaging, and ‘organic’ doesn’t necessarily mean the cows are eating grass, which they were designed to do.
The breed of cow also affects the milk composition.
The artisan milk and handmade butter movement is really gathering momentum and many top restaurants now feature handmade butter proudly on their tables. At last a growing number of dairy farmers are putting milk back into glass bottles, some also sell organic milk and butter. I sense the same passion as in the artisan brewing movement and a similar generosity of spirit.
How to Make Butter
You don’t absolutely need timber butter bats to make butter, but they do make it much easier to shape the butter into blocks. They’re more widely available than you might think, considering buttermaking is certainly an alternative enterprise, but keep an eye out in antique shops and if you find some, snap them up. A good pair will bring you butter luck. Unsalted butter should be eaten within a few days, but the addition of salt will preserve it for two to three weeks. Also, you can make butter with any quantity of cream but the amount used in the recipe below will keep you going for a week or so and give you enough to share with friends (though not in my house!). Remember, sunlight taints butter (and milk) in a short time, so if you are serving butter outdoors, keep it covered.
Makes about 1kg (2 1/4lb) butter and 1 litre (1 3/4 pints) buttermilk
2.4 litres (4 pints/10 cups) raw or pasteurised double cream at room temperature
2 teaspoons dairy salt (optional)
pair of butter bats or hands
Soak the wooden butter bats or hands in iced water for about 30 minutes so they do not stick to the butter.
Pour the double cream into a cold, sterilized mixing bowl. If it’s homogenised, it will still whip, but not as well. If you’re using raw cream and want a more traditional taste, leave it to ripen in a cool place, where the temperature is about 8°C (46°F), for up to 48 hours.
Whisk the cream at a medium speed in a food mixer until it is thick. First it will be softly whipped, and then stiffly whipped. Continue until the whipped cream collapses and separates into butterfat globules. The buttermilk will separate from the butter and slosh around the bowl. Turn the mixture into a cold, spotlessly clean sieve and drain well. The butter remains in the sieve while the buttermilk drains into the bowl. The buttermilk can be used to make soda bread or as a thirst quenching drink (it will not taste sour). Put the butter back into a clean bowl and beat with the whisk for a further 30 seconds to 1 minute to expel more buttermilk. Remove and sieve as before. Fill the bowl containing the butter with very cold water. Use the butter bats or your clean hands to knead the butter to force out as much buttermilk as possible. This is important, as any buttermilk left in the butter will sour and the butter will go off quickly. If you handle the butter too much with warm hands, it will liquefy.
Drain the water, cover and wash twice more, until the water is totally clear. Weigh the butter into 110g (4oz), 225g (8oz) or 450g (1lb) slabs. Pat into shape with the wet butter hands or bats. Make sure the butter hands or bats have been soaked in ice-cold water for at least 30 minutes before using to stop the butter sticking to the ridges. Wrap in greaseproof or waxed paper and keep chilled in a fridge. The butter also freezes well.
If you wish to add salt, you will need 1/4 teaspoon of plain dairy salt for every 110g (4oz/1 stick) of butter. Before shaping the butter, spread it out in a thin layer and sprinkle evenly with dairy salt. Mix thoroughly using the butter pats, then weigh into slabs as before.
I much prefer unadulterated butter, rather than butters with additives that change the texture. So if you want to be able to spread butter easily, simply leave it out of the fridge for a few hours in a covered container.
Traditional Country Butter
Irish country butter was made from cream that was ripened for several days in a dairy at about 8°C /46°F, so the flavour was more rich and complex.
25/07/2012 (SH) (Forgotten Skills Book)
September 20-23rd 2013
The next edition of Cheese – Slow Foodth’s biennial festival celebrating artisanal cheese from around the world – is set to be an important moment, for the movement, for food biodiversity and for endangered dairy products.
Taking place from September 20 - 23 in Bra, Italy, the international event reflects the direction of the movement. First it brought to light the half-hidden world of dairy products; then it launched a vigorous campaign defending raw milk cheese production; now it is raising its voice in defense of small, marginalized producers.
visit this link to find out more about the Cheese Festival http://www.slowfood.com/international/slow-stories/192043/what-cheese-will-you-save
Slow Food Wassailing Event
The custom of Wassailing which dates back to pagan times is experiencing a minor resurgence in recent years particularly among craft cider makers.
January 17th is the traditional date for Wassailing. The tradition is alive and well still in Somerset and Dorset.
Sinead Doran and Ted Berner organised our first Slow Food Wassailing event in the Old Orchard in Shanagarry on a foggy February night in the midst of the apple trees.
Wassailing comes from the ancient Anglo - Saxon word, wes, hal meaning to be whole-in good health.
The idea is to protect the cider apple trees from evil spirits and to ensure a bumper crop in the coming season.
Sinead Doran, Ted Berner & Camilla Houston put enormous efforts in preparation . They decorated the apple trees with ribbons and lit lots of little fires in the orchard. A tent was erected over a long timber dining table. They made lots of mulled cider and spit roasted a fine juicy pig from Ballymaloe Farm.
The ancient ritual commenced by choosing a Wassailing queen, Camilla Houston.
She led the parade to the oldest tree in the orchard , dipped a piece of toast in some mulled cider and placed it on the tree. The remaining cider was poured around the base. Everyone got an opportunity to feed the tree. Then the trees were woken up and evil spirits were scared away with loud noises, in our case banging of saucepans with wooden spoons.
The apple tree was serenaded with traditional Wassailing songs by the Slow Food members , friends and cookery school students, many of whom have become Slow Food Youth members.
A Traditional Wassailing Song
Old Apple Tree, we Wassail thee
And hoping thou wilt bear
For the Lord doth know where we shall be
Tell apples come another year
For to bear well, and to bear well
So Merry, let us be
Let every man take off this hat
And shout to the old apple tree
Old apple tree, we wassail thee
And hoping thou wilt bear
Hatfulls, capfuls, three lushel bag fulls
And a little heap under the stairs
Hip! Hip! Horray!
By this stage everyone was ready to tuck into pulled pork sandwiches with lots of crackling and Brambley apple sauce and Ballymaloe Country relish washed down with lashings of mulled apple juice and craft cider.
Special thanks to Sinead Doran & Ted Berner and Camilla Houston for organising a wonderfully convivial and educational event on a frosty February evening – let’s do it again next year.
See the Bridgestone Irish Food Guide for more info on Irish Craft Cider Makers
Irish Artisan Cider Producers
Armagh Cider Company
telephone: +44 (0)28 3833 4268
Ballinteggart House, Drumnasoo Road, Portadown, Co. Armagh BT62 4EX
telephone: +353 (0)86 869 1148
The Turrets, Nohoval, Belgooly, Kinsale,Co. Cork.
Toby’s Handcrafted Armagh Cider
Longueville House Cider
telephone: +353 (0)22 47156
Mallow, Co. Cork.
telephone: +353 (0) 87 284 3879
Quickpenny Road, Lusk, Co Dublin.
telephone: +353 (0)87 205 8090
Ballyhook Farm, Grange Con, Co. Wicklow.
The Apple Farm
telephone: +353 (0)52 7441459
Moorstown, Cahir, Co. Tipperary.
Highbank Proper Cider
telephone: +353 (0)56 7729918
Highbank Orchards, Highbank Organic Farm, Cuffesgrange, Co. Kilkenny
Tempted? Irish Craft Cider
telephone: +44 (0) 289 2621219
2 Agars Road, Lisburn, Co. Down, BT28 2TQ
Mac Ivors Cider Co.
telephone: +44 (0)28 3885 1381
Ardress East, Portadown, Co. Armagh BT62 1SQ
Mac’s Armagh Cider
Sean McAtee, Forest Road, Forkhill, Co. Armagh
The website www.ciderireland.com has further information.
Eight Degrees Brewing with Cam Wallace, Scott Baignett
and Food Blogger Caroline Hennessey
Cameron Wallace and Scott Baigent, an Aussie and a Kiwi, met in 2003 and became firm friends. They both married Irish girls who lured them back to Ireland in 2010 and 2005, respectively. They agreed to decamp to the Emerald Isle provided they could start an Artisan Brewery. Cam is an accountant and Scott an engineer, perfect credentials to set up a craft brewery, quips Cam. They found a premises in Mitchelstown in November 2010. The brewery became a reality in April 2011 with the launch of their first brew, Howling Gale Ale, at the Franciscan Well Easterfest in Cork.
They got second hand equipment from Carlow Brewing Company, who were selling it as a result of their own expansion – good karma!
The eagerly awaited first brew was a disaster, so bitter it was undrinkable. They were up against the wire to launch their first beer at the Franciscan Well Beer Fest in April 2011. Tears, panic stations and another go! – their second attempt produced a cracker – now known as Howling Gale. That summer saw the launch of Sunburnt Irish Red and Knockmealdown Porter was introduced in September 2011. The pilsner, Barefoot Bohemian, was supposed to be a summer 2012 limited edition seasonal special but was so popular that it became one of their core range.
The beer uses just 4 ingredients – barley, hops, yeast and water. They are made, bottled and labelled by the boys in Mitchelstown and are now sold in more than four hundred outlets across Ireland.
They are being enthusiastically embraced by many chefs and a growing number of restaurants and pubs around the country. L Mullingar Grocer in Stoneybatter was one of the first pubs to feature craft beer on their menu paired with food. There is a wonderful camaraderie among the 15 craft breweries in Ireland who are happy to support each other and work together with the collective goal of converting people to drinking craft beer. In 2011, Bord Bia started a farmhouse cheese and craft beer festival which has been very successful at focusing attention on cheese and beer matching and giving people a taste of terrior, Irish-style.
Food Blogger Caroline Hennessey kindly shared her special chocolate brownie recipe with us
Rich dark chocolate + full-flavoured malty porter = the most lusciously moist brownies. Enjoy!
Knockmealdown Porter Brownies
A dark, full-bodied porter or stout is a good balance to the chocolate in these brownies. I use Knockmealdown Porter from Eight Degrees Brewing here but Dungarvan Black Rock Irish Stout, Porterhouse Plain orO’Hara’s Irish Stout are all well worth trying. You only need 250mls for this recipe, so there will be a little left over to accompany the baked brownies – that’s if you don’t drink it while doing the wash up!
100g plain flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
150g dark chocolate, 60% cocoa solids – I often use a combination of 50% and 70%
200g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
250mls Knockmealdown porter
Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fanbake). Line a rectangular 2 x 25 x 30cm Swiss roll tin with greaseproof paper.
Sift the flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder together and set to one side.
Gently melt the chocolate and butter together in a large heavy based saucepan over a low heat. Take it off the cooker and add the sugar, whisking until smooth. Allow to cool slightly, then whisk in the eggs, vanilla, porter and, finally, the sifted dry ingredients until just blended.
Pour into the prepared tin – this is a very runny mixture – and bake in the preheated oven for 18-20 minutes until set and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Because of the amount of liquid used, you don’t need to underbake these brownies.
Cool in the tin then cut into 30 pieces and store – if you have any left – in an airtight tin. These get more delectably moist the longer you keep them. Serve with a scoop of good vanilla ice cream and some warm Caramel Ale Sauce for a superb desert.
Makes 30 brownies.
Caroline Hennessey, Eight Degrees Brewing
Terra Madre, Salone del Gusto
International Slow Food Congress
Turin, Italy 2012
An update from Terra Madre, Salone del Gusto and the International Slow Food Congress 2012 in Turin.
This year all three events were held in conjunction with each other.
Twenty five Slow Food members and food communities attended from the island of Ireland.
The Irish Slow Food stand supported by Bord Bia was manned by Emer O' Donnell and a team of Irish Farmhouse cheesemakers, Slow Food members and volunteers. The response to the Irish Raw Milk Cheese was so enthusiastic that it was sold out completely by noon on Sunday.
Irish Slow Food members had an informal meeting ‘under the stairs’ close to the Irish Slow Food stand with Elisa Demichelis from Slow Food International. She thanked the convivia leaders and members for their efforts on behalf of Slow Food under difficult economic circumstances. We all resolved to try to have an event every month however small, even every two months would be good!
- Carlo Petrini urged every convivia around the world to celebrate Terra Madre Day on or around December 10th.
- Slow Food were committed to creating 1,000 Gardens in Africa but Carlo has now upped the number to 10,000 before the next Terra Madre in 2014.
International Slow Food Grandparents Day 20th April 2013 Carlo Petrini continues to emphasise the importance of intergenerational knowledge and establishing ‘Granaries of Memory’ to record traditional knowledge in danger of being lost.
Slow Food Grandparents Day Celebration on April 20th- 21st 2013 at Sandbrook House in County Carlow. We would love all convivia to get involved and are looking forward to having lots of suggestions from all of you.
- The fight against Food Waste has become a major focus for Slow Food. At present approximately 40% of the food harvest goes to waste. Several countries have brilliant initiatives to heighten awareness of this problem and redistribute ‘food waste’.
In Berlin the Slow Food Youth had a Schnippeldisco (chopping disco) where more than 200 people chopped 1.2 tonnes of discarded vegetables and made massive pots of soup as an ‘act of culinary resistance’ that filled the tummies of 8,000 people next day. Next one January 19th in Berlin – I’m hoping to go!
See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JUWFaY0T4Q a brilliant You Tube on the event.
In the Netherlands Slow Food organized a Food Film Festival. See www.foodfilmfestival.nl/en. Next date March 22-24th 2013 in Amsterdam. They need volunteers to work with them on the Film Festival.
Suggestion: How about a Food Film Festival in Ireland?
- Slow Food continues to have grave concerns about Land Grabbing, a problem in many countries particularly Africa – there are various petitions one can sign. Follow this link http://www.slowfood.com/international/136/slow-food-in-action
- Irene Weinfurter started a refugee restaurant called Book a Cook in Vienna manned with refugees. It’s a brilliant success. Check out www.bookacook.au.
Suggestion: Perhaps Slow Food could link with the Irish Immigration Support Centre in Cork.
- The Grassroots of the Revolution: Edible Education
Alice Waters, Stephanie Alexander, Vandana Shiva, Darina Allen, Sam Levin, Ange Barry, Hayu Dyah Patria, Namrata Bali, Noel Nanyunja, Ursula Hudson and Valeria Cometti spoke about edible school education and the value of school gardens. All the contributions were fascinating but Stephanie Alexander, Australian chef and founder of the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation, said her motivation comes from a strong belief in the power of pleasure, texture and experience of food. Starting from a pilot garden in 2001, to date the program has received around 20 million dollars in government funding and currently there are 270 participating schools. The Foundation has just secured enough money to take the program to 10% of all Australian schools within the next 2½ years.
See kitchengardenfoundation.org.au and www.edibleschoolyard.org.
- Carlo Petrini urged us to become more political
Slow Food is now acknowledged as a very important voice in world political debate. Terra Madre has created a new food culture. There’s a growing awareness around the world about the loss of biodiversity and the importance of looking after the land, water and seas.
Almost 1,000 people crammed into the Salla ? for the ‘Seeds: Where do we Start?’ lecture - people sat on the floor behind the rows of seats, stood up against the walls, desperate to hear Vandana Shiva and others give spirited presentations on the saving and patenting of seeds. Vandana Shiva spoke graphically about the genocide of farmer suicides in India and the scandal of biopiracy. She has written a new Seed Manifesto which she urged everyone to sign. Seed is life, farmers not multinational seed companies should be the owners and custodians of the world’s seeds.
Seed Manifesto www. seedfreedom.in
The Slow Food Youth Movement has really gathered momentum since the last Terra Madre, with particularly active chapters in the Netherlands, Germany, US and UK. They are involved in a myriad of community projects and are determined “to be the change they want to see”. It is worth noting that Barry Bryan of Irish Slow Food Youth Network and Ben Craig are motivated to increasing active participation in schools and colleges around the country.
Bees – beekeepers from over 30 countries brought their honey to Terra Madre. It’s clear there is a serious disease problem and collapse of bee colonies globally. Urgent research is being conducted in many countries including Italy where neonicotinods and related substances used primarily on maize have been temporarily suspended from the market awaiting new studies. The EU is also analysing the phenomenon of bees dying. There is scientific consensus that bees are a bio indicator of the health of the planet. Germany, France and Slovenia adopted the recommendation, all other 23 countries in EU didn’t enforce the ban including Ireland.
In the University of London research has shown that chronic exposure to two commonly used pesticides in farming kills worker bees and damages their ability to forage for food.
Slow Food Beekeepers urged us to collect information on bee disease in all our various countries and encouraged reporting of cases of colony collapse or bees dying.
- 2014 is European Year of the Family Farm, exciting news for Ireland where 80% of our farmers are in this category. Perhaps at last there will be greater appreciation of the importance and potential of this sector.
THE GRASSROOTS OF THE REVOLUTION: EDIBLE EDUCATION
Thursday, October 25, 2012 - 03:00 PM Monferrato Circus
Food is the perfect medium to teach every child the values that we need to live together on this planet. An Edible Education is the most delicious and democratic solution to the problems we face.
Chaired by Corby Kummer, journalist, The Atlantic, USA with
Alice Waters, vice-president of Slow Food, owner of Chez Panisse Restaurant and founder of the Edible Schoolyard Project, USA
Sam Levin, Edible Schoolyard Project, USA
Darina Allen, Slow Food East Cork, Ballymaloe Cookery School, Ireland
Stephanie Alexander, author and founder of the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation, Australia
Ange Barry, director of the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation, Australia
Vandana Shiva, president of the Navdanya movement
Hayu Dyah Patria, director of Mantasa research institute, Indonesia
Namrata Bali, SEWA Academy, India
Noel Nanyunja, teacher and coordinator of A Thousand Gardens in Africa, Uganda
Ursula Hudson, president of Slow Food Germany
Valeria Cometti, director of education of Slow Food Italy
TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE: AN INHERITANCE TO TREASURE
Thursday, October 25, 2012 - 12:00 PM Sala Gialla
How much knowledge is there in the world and how can we stop its dissipation? Traditional wisdom is hard to catalog because it is rarely systematized, and yet this makes it flexible, adaptable and always up-to-date. In a world of archives and written words, this knowledge risks disappearing. The Granaries of Memory project, run by the University of Gastronomic Sciences, offers one model for collection and dissemination, and will be compared with other initiatives in Italy and the rest of the world.
Chaired by Pier Paolo Luciano, assignment editor, La Repubblica
Carlo Petrini, president of Slow Food
Piercarlo Grimaldi, dean of the University of Gastronomic Sciences of Pollenzo, Italy
Marino Niola, University of Suor Orsola Benincasa, Naples, Italy
José Esquinas-Alcazar, director of CEHAP - Cátedra de Estudios sobre Hambre y Pobreza, University of Cordoba, Spain
Darina Allen, Slow Food East Cork, Ireland
Davide Porporato, Piemonte Orientale University, Italy
Feedback from the Irish Delegation
Terra Madre and Salone del Gusto 2012
Bill Gunter Slow Food Dublin Convivium Leader says:
I was overwhelmed by enormity of this event. What a fantastic
opportunity to speak with and sample wares from producers from all
over the world.
The two conferences I attended were very interesting. The Slow Food
narrative labeling scheme is a massive step forward in transparency
for consumers. Hopefully at least some of the principles will make
into the mainstream. The other conference was about applying slow food
principles to our daily lives. Several people spoke but most
intriguing to me was the talk by Michael Croft from the Canberra
Convivium. They host a monthly "Slow Soup Kitchen" at a local market.
The soup is made by a chef from produce leftover from the same market
the week before. The soup is sold by the cup for a price set by the
consumer who is asked "What would you like to pay for it?". Placards
at the table ask "What is your health worth to you?" "What is
sustainable agriculture worth to you?" etc. They've sold soup for
anything from $0 to $20 and the proceeds go to charity. What a
fantasticly subversive way to promote Slow ideals and get people
thinking about what they consume. I want to host at least one of these
in Dublin next year.
Joe McNamee says:-
Here are five things that resonated with me about the event
- Meeting the Terra Madre delegates from around the world and having the time (not enough though even after 5 days!!) to talk to them
- The abundance of wild food foraged by Eastern European countries and showcased in the International Hall
- The strong and vibrant presence of young people from all over the world and the networking opportunities provided in their 'den' in international hall.
- The proactive presence of the students from the University of Gastronomic Science and their innovative ideas on showcasing their culinary knowledge & skills - (tasting dinner in ''Let's Eat' and personal tasting tours to various stalls) (also in international hall)
- The variety of talks on interesting topics (School Gardens being a popular one)
- The opportunity to attend the Bord Bia dinner showcasing excellent Irish & Italian produce in the heart of Turin and meeting the staff and local dignatories
I think overall the International Hall made the biggest impression on me. It was so great to see the fruits of the work Slowfood/Terra Madre is doing all over the world to help preserve traditional foods, production methods and also to see an example of one of the Gardens from Africa
Martin Potts, Failte Ireland
Things that are etched in my mind form Turin this year …
The main point was the speeches given by Vandana Shiva both at the opening ceremony and at the ‘Seeds Where do we start?’ conference on the Friday afternoon. The plight of farmers internationally against global seed manufacturers and multinational companies and the struggle for farmers in her home country India and the 270 000+ yearly committing suicide because of debt. She is a truly inspirational and committed woman who can single handed take on the world.
The wealth of foods on offer, I attended the 2010 Salone as a private individual and this year had more time to spend in the venue and was blown away by both the diversity and quality of products available.
The attitude of the local Italians and there passion for food. I watched hundreds of school children tasting samples of all kinds of different foods without even asking what it was yet I can only cringe to think that Irish children wouldn’t be so adventurous in their food choices. We still have a huge amount of work to do in education of school children here in this country just to get kids to try different foods let alone to like them. This was the first time that the event was open to the public and school children came in their droves to the event.
It never seems to amaze me that the passion that growers/ farmers have for their product. I managed to speak to many different people during my time there but the one that stands out the most was a gentleman for Sardinia who hand-picked capers from his farm, the race was on for him to pick his crop, by hand as they flowered for a 4 day period before they turned into less valuable caper berries. He had rezones of Caper bushes more than 150 years old that he protects through winters to crop every summer. His passion ended with an invite for me to come to Sardinia and he will take me all over the island to show how proud he was of not only his product but his heritage and country.
Lastly the thing that bugs me the most is the amount of protected food products that other countries are able to protect with DOC’s and yet Ireland has so few of its food products protected. We have more than 9 Billion euro in food exports yearly yet we are slow to protect and enhance our quality products for international recognition. We as a country need to encourage global food tourism to Ireland and if we were to get more protection for some of our native produce then this can and will enhance the visitor experience to our beautiful country.
Christopher Bielenberg from Sandbrook House, Co Carlow
Slow Fish Conference 2011
Genoa May 27th - 30th 2011
Sally Barnes of Woodcock Smokery in Castletownshend, West Cork attended the Slow Fish Conference in May. Here is her report of her experience of that weekend. Visit www.slowfood.com/slowfish for lots more information of this bi-annual event.
A trip to Bremen, to discuss a new Common Fisheries Policy.....
Under the auspices of Slowfish, I was delighted to participate in open discussions regarding the proposed new Common Fisheries Policy.........a wide-ranging and frank series of formal and informal sharing of insights and projections, culminating in a request to EU regulators that the proposed Individual Transferable Quota system should NOT be applied to only ‘vessels under 12 metres’, as we felt that this should not apply to owner/skippers of locally-operated vessels within northern European fleets, as, due to diminishing stocks, poor market prices, fluctuating but ever-increasing fuel and insurance costs, desperate owner/skippers may be forced out of business and feel obliged to have to sell their ITQ.........this could result in large fishing companies having access to extra quota in other EU fisheries......as Ireland’s quota within her own waters is already so minute (under 5% of stocks other than herring and mackerel), it was felt that we may lose even more of this tiny quota to non-national fleets. Our proposal is that this quota should be retained within the coastal community and area where it becomes available (tragically) to younger fishermen who may want to enter the industry. At this time, it is nigh on impossible for any young person to gain entry to the fleet, due to the imposed decreases in tonnage of the fleet. If tonnage and quota was made available to locally-operated vessels around our coasts, there would be some hope of an industry in the future. Without this derogation, limiting the accessibility of non-local boats to our own coastal waters, the future looks very bleak indeed. Employment opportunities in both the fishing/catching sector, and, by default, the processing sector, have to be safeguarded and protected for future generations of peripheral coastal dwellers, and not simply for economic reasons.............maintaining vibrant populations of people within these areas is also of prime importance. Too many have already left in search of employment opportunities in other parts of the world, decimating those communities and stealing away their youth and futures.
Great work is being conducted by ‘Responsible Irish Fish’, an organisation founded with the express imperative to ensure that locally-caught, very fresh fish, is made visibly available to consumers within Ireland, to protect local incomes and industry in the face of cheap imported fish. This also has a very negative impact on our own fleet, as it is almost impossible to compete on price..........more and more local skippers are finding it impossible to make a living from the sea on their own doorsteps. As a micro-processor trying to survive in my own locality, and working with locally-sourced raw material, my own survival depends totally on these resources being available to me in the coming years. If the issue of ITQs is not applied with these criteria in mind, the future looks very bleak indeed for indigenous, local fishermen.
Sally Barnes Woodcock Smokery, Casteltownshend, West Cork. www.woodcocksmokery.com
Letter from Elisa Demichelis Slow Food Italy on CAP Reform
Dear Slow Food Friend
Before the summer holidays, we would like to provide you with a short but important update on the work that we have been doing at the European level.
As you already might know, Slow Food is working to improve its European commitment and we are now launching a campaign calling for a more fair, ecological and inclusive policy. Therefore we have been elaborating a position paper setting out Slow Food's vision for the next CAP. This document - here attached to this email - offers a series of concrete proposals for the reform of the CAP. It is a call to action for all Slow Food members to work to ensure that the principles of a sustainable, good, clean and fair food production system be absorbed as much as possible within the new policy and is an invitation for all those involved to join the campaign.
Ideally we would like this document to be distributed to all the convivium leaders and members in your country to stimulate the discussion. We would like to collect as many inputs as possible from all our Slow Food members. Therefore we kindly ask you to send this document to all the members of your convivium and to the people who might be interested. Also, you can post it on the website of the convivium.
As a suggestion, if you are planning any activity for the next months, it might be interesting to incorporate the discussion about the CAP. These discussions are already underway in many European countries and we now encourage our Slow Food network to get involved.
On the Slow Food International website, we have created a section dedicated to Europe and the CAP. The section is called "Slow Europe" and you will be able to find all materials and information on this theme. Please visit the following link:
Thank you for helping us spread the document and for your commitment.
We will remain at your disposal for any further information you might need.
RAW Milk Petition
Dear Slow Food Members and Friends
Virtually all Irish milk, with a few rare exceptions, is now pasteurised as well as homogenised. However, in the absence of specific regulations in Ireland and raw milk may be sold to the public. It is legal today to sell raw milk from a farm or through retail outlets.
The FSAI and the Department of Agriculture are planning to ban the sale of raw milk to the public later this year. This removes the choice from those who would rather have unpasteurised milk.
Other EU countries, including Britain and Northern Ireland, introduced a regulated system whereby producers who undertake to operate to a specific production and labelling protocols may continue to sell raw milk to the public. We have frequently asked the FASI and the Department of Agriculture to draw up a protocol for selected farmers who would be chosen to produce the finest milk for liquid milk production. The raw milk would be sold in glass bottles and clearly labelled ‘may contain pathogens’. No one is putting a gun to anyone’s head to buy raw milk but freedom of choice is a fundamental right.
Regulations in the food industry are important but they must be appropriate to the risk. It is estimated the 100,000 people in Ireland regularly drink raw milk. The HSE statistics up to this year do not indicate a linked health concern. Why do we need this new law now? Why can we not adopt the best practice that has been established in other countries that value the naturalness of their foods?
Of course you can always petition your own TD to write a letter yourself to the Minister. You may download the petition letter on the Slow Food Ireland website and post it to the Minister. Please include your name and address in any communication, or it will not be valid.
Slow Food Grandmother's Recipe Archive
The GM Issue
There is considerable unease among the Irish people since ex-minister Brendan Smith had a rush of blood to the head before he left office and shot off to Brussels to vote in favour of a motion that a GM product could be labelled GM-free provided it contained no more than .8% of GM material. When Fianna Fail and the Greens were in government Ireland was designated a GM-free island but this is now in jeopardy. The ‘Pathways for Growth’ published by Bord Bia which was based on the Harvard report reminds us of our natural advantages in Ireland. “Ireland has an enviable agricultural situation that almost every other country would kill for. It has abundant fertile land, lots of water, and miles of coastline all situated closely to a collection of 400 million affluent people. It is one of Europe’s largest dairy and beef exporters and home to several world class firms and hundreds of artisan food producers. All this comes at a time when the global demand for food is projected to increase by 70% over the next 40 years. The affluent world is demanding locally grown, non polluting traceable, transparent food.” Ireland the Food Island is well placed to fill this demand but Ireland the Genetically Modified Food Island wouldn’t have quite the same ring to it and would cause serious challenges for our marketing people. We would be crazy to squander our farming future and our priceless green image. It is crucial for the future of Ireland Inc to remain GM free. We have been inundated with queries from people who have concerns but are not familiar with the issues so here are some websites with information that may be of help.
Ten Reasons to Say No GMOS by Carlo Petrini of Slow Food Italy
Italy - 05 Mar 10 - Carlo Petrini
Summarizing complex issues, such as all those concerning food and agriculture, is not easy, nor is it necessarily a good thing. However I believe that it could be helpful to list the reasons why we and others say “no” to GMOs. Not because of ideological positions or prejudices, as those who think they are the only repositories of knowledge love to claim, but for serious and justifiable reasons, shared by many researchers and scientists.
1) CONTAMINATION: Here in Italy, and in many countries, safely cultivating GMOs is impossible because of our small farms and lack of adequate natural barriers to protect organic and conventional crops. Additionally, agriculture is part of a living system which includes wild fauna, the water cycle, the wind and the reactions of microorganisms in the soil; GM crops cannot be confined to the surface of the field in which they are being cultivated.
2) FOOD SOVEREIGNTY: How could organic, biodynamic and conventional farmers be sure that their products are not contaminated? Even the limited spread of GM crops in open fields would change forever the quality and the current state of our agriculture, destroying our freedom to choose what we eat.
3) HEALTH: It has been shown that animals fed with GMOs can develop health problems.
4) FREEDOM: GM crops denature the role of farmers, who have always improved and selected their own seeds. GM seeds are owned by multinationals to whom the farmer must turn every new season, because, like all commercial hybrids, second-generation GMOs do not give good results. It is also forbidden for farmers to try to improve the variety without paying expensive royalties.
5) ECONOMY AND CULTURE: GM products do not have historical or cultural links to a local area. In Italy for example, a significant part of its agricultural and food economy is based upon identity and the variety of local products. Introducing anonymous products with no history would weaken a system that also has close links to the tourism industry.
6) BIODIVERSITY: GM crops impoverish biodiversity because they require large surface areas and an intensive monoculture system. Growing only one kind of corn for human consumption will mean a reduction in flavors and knowledge.
7) ECO-COMPATIBILITY: Research on GMOs has so far focused on two kinds of “advantages”: resistance to a corn parasite (the corn borer) and resistance to a herbicide (glyphosate). Supporters of GMOs say that they allow the reduced use of synthetic chemicals. But crop rotation is the only real way to fight the corn borer, and herbicide resistance will only lead to freer use of the chemical in the fields, given that it harms only undesirable weeds, not the actual crops.
8) CAUTION: Around 30 years since GMOs began to be studied, results in the agricultural sector concern only three crops (corn, rapeseed and soy). In fact the plants do not support the genetic modifications very well and this science is still rudimentary and partially entrusted to chance. We would like to see a more cautious and careful approach, as in Germany and France, where some GM crops have been banned.
9) PROGRESS: GMOs are the result of a myopic and superficial way of seeing progress. The role of small-scale agriculture in the protection of local areas, the defense of the landscape and the struggle against global warming is increasingly clear to consumers, governments and scientists. Instead of following the siren call of the market, modern research should support sustainable agriculture and its needs.
10) HUNGER: When it comes to hunger, the United Nations says that family agriculture will protect the sectors of the population at risk of malnutrition. Multinationals instead promise that GMOs will feed the world, but since they began to be marketed around 15 years ago, the number of starving people in the world has only grown, just like the profits of the companies that produce the seeds. In countries like Argentina and Brazil, GM soy has swept away energy-providing crops like potatoes, corn, wheat and millet on which the daily diet is based.
First Slow Food Ireland Convivium
Slow Food West Cork launched 1998
From left to right Annie Barry, Sally Barnes, Bill Hogan, Giana Ferguson, Myrtle Allen, Garret Fitzgerald and Darina Allen
Weekly Recipe using a Wild Food