‘We have to fight back against the im­port of in­fe­rior prod­ucts’

Irish Independent - Farming - - NEWS -

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.

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