Apart from #cheesegate (more to follow) things have been quiet on the food news front this week as the television documentary that developed from our book is in the throes of pre-production. What this basically means is - lots of me banging the phones, hunting around the country for good food stories and looking for farmers, all over again.
This time last year we were publicising the book, and one really nice thing that stemmed from it was the huge amount of consumers, food producers and farmers who approached Philip and myself about questions they had related to food - why are there Israeli potatoes in Irish supermarkets? Why do some organic vegetables have pesticide residues? Why can I barely make a living as a farmer?
These questions have never gone away, and in the spring of next year a new documentary for RTE, presented by Philip and written by myself will investigate what we're eating in Ireland and how our shopping habits directly affect the value of our agri-food sector. We want to examine how what we eat can help Irish food production get us out of the economic mire that we're in.
One central aspect to this is our behaviour as consumers and examining the food that we buy -for example, how many of us are motivated to look for Irish produce on the supermarket shelves. One thing we're really looking for is farmers with good stories about difficulties they have had getting their product to market, and specifically into supermarkets.
This is an area sadly familiar to me, last year I was called as a witness to the Government's Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture to speak on the unfair balance of power which the multiples hold in the Irish food market. While supermarkets are part of the solution to getting a bigger market share for Irish farmers, artisan food producers and manufacturers, they can also be part of the problem. One thing we really want to feature in the documentary is these stories - I know it's difficult for farmers to talk about the hoops that supermarkets sometimes make them jump through to sell their product. Anecdotally the evidence is there - I know that it's much harder to get people to talk about it in reality, yet this is what we're looking for.
I'll keep you posted on news about the documentary as we progress, and it would be great if food producers reading this blog could pass on the word and send people my way who have good stories to tell. For my foreign readers I hope the documentary will be of interest to you when it's broadcast. It's fantastic to have such a spread of people reading this blog from around the world and keeping up with food news here and internationally. It gives me a huge thrill to see readers from Russia to Brazil, from the US to Italy and the UK visiting the blog. It's lovely to have a readerhip of people interested in what's going on in Ireland. It's indicative of how people can be so connected by a love of food and who want to see it farmed and produced properly.
We want to tell the stories at the heart of Irish food so please, anyone that feels they have something to add, get in touch!