‘We have to fight back against the import of inferior products’
THE Dingle Food Festival has been on the go for 10 years and its focus is very much on marketing what the area already has in abundance — farmers rearing animals in distinctive local conditions.
One example is the promotion of Dingle’s ‘salt grass’ based diet for cattle. A pilot project involving Transition Year students, Gavin McCarthy, Sean Brosnan, Louis Murchan, Darragh Murphy, Darragh Devane and Maurice Kelliher, from Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne has seen the students rear cattle that will be slaughtered in time for this year’s festival which starts on September 29. The cattle were reared on the land of farmer Colm Murphy. There’s nothing new in the diet but restaurateurs say farmers are failing to realise the potential of what is a premium product.
Through word of mouth and family contacts they secured restaurants that were willing to use their product including, The Global Village, The Chart House, Idás and John Benny Moriarty’s pub.
The salt-grass project came about from a discussion group at the Dingle Food Festival and this year farmers will be invited back to a workshop at the Farmers’ Forum on September 29 to find out more about the project and getting involved.
Restaurateur and festival chairman Martin Bealin says the project is a real opportunity for local farmers and food businesses.
“It’s vital that people stand proud of the product that’s all around them. We have to fight back at the constant importation of inferior product while we’re passing by our own wonderful product that’s on our doorstep and not putting it on our menus,” Mr Bealin said.
“We’re actually getting better at this and Ireland is on the food map as one of the best food destinations in the world and we’re getting there fast. It’s projects like this that identify quality that make the difference,” he added.