Yesterday we went to the Foodie Forum at GMIT. It was the second year of the event.
I hadn’t planned on writing a blog post about it, but quite a few people who missed it have asked how it went. So here goes.
Once again the schedule for the day was pretty full on. You have to be quite ruthless in your decision-making about what you can attend.
I decided that I wanted to attend both debates and also go watch the sushi demonstration.
First debate session was entitled “GM Foods – The Elephant in the Room”. I won’t go through the entire debate as I believe a video link will be posted on it. Each panelist spoke for approx. 5 minutes and then the debate was open to the floor.
So here’s my synopsis:
Martin Ruffley (GMIT) : “As there is no risk perceived (in GM food), it follows that there is no risk”
Seamus Sheridan (Green Party Spokesperson on Agriculture) : “The safety of GM food in the human food chain is not an issue, it is a biodiversity issue”
Eleanor Winters (Nutritional Therapist) : “Even scientists are unsure of how genes will mutate”.
Dr. Ewan Mullins (Teagasc) : “there is no risk of cross-contamination with potato crops”.
In my opinion the two people who spoke the most sense were Eleanor Winters and Dr. Mullins. Dr. Mullins explained why they had chosen to grow a gm potato crop and admitted that the Teagasc website does not outline their position fully. I still don’t agree with gm, but I have to admit he spoke very rationally about their position.
I did reprimand/tease Seamus Sheridan later for his headline grabbing statement and told him he should be worried.
Then there was time for a little bit of networking, and a quick bite of lunch.
Sorry guys – this is directed at organisers – do something about the signage! It took us about 20 minutes to find the ‘street market’…. and yes, we did ask the guides on hand.
A quick bit of very nice pizza, and on to the next debate.
“A sense of place” – The Local Food Story.” I suspect this debate took a completely different turn to that which was intended! The chair Ciara Jackson from Grant Thorntons began the debate with some statistics of how much ‘Irish’ food people are now buying. The panelists then discussed the direction of food tourism and how it can impact on localities, how the ‘story’ is so important to food.
Perhaps, it was my fault, when I suggested that while it is all very nice to think of tourists enjoying our food while they are here, it is really people living here that we (as producers) need to be buying our produce – otherwise the artisan food industry is not sustainable. So my quotes from this debate would be:
Mona Wise (WiseWords) on the subject of food tourism : “I feel more strongly with every recurring year that our country has no tradition which does it so much honour and which it should guard so jealously as that of its hospitality.” (taken from The Dead by James Joyce)
Seamus Sheridan : “Every town in Ireland should have a civic food market where local people can access local food’
John McKenna on how to stop the multiples governing food prices : “stop shopping in multiples”
Sean (I believe a butcher) definitely the quote of the day : a tin of pedigree chum costs more than a pack of 6 burgers”
If anything could be taken from this debate I think it would be that we have to try to encourage Irish people to shop local. I don’t think it is feasible to say ‘don’t shop in multiples’, perhaps a better way would be to ask people to buy more local. What do you think?
Another thing I think I should point out…. there were far more people at the second debate. There were an awful lot of producers at the second debate – why did they not attend the first debate on gm? An interesting question don’t you think.
I never got to the sushi demonstration…. I was too busy doing some more networking! It was so lovely to meet up with some people I hadn’t seen in years, and to meet new people – way too many to mention on here, but you know who you are!
And for another take on the day check out Sinead’s blog post.