Sunday, 24 October 2010

Savour Kilkenny - Foodcamp and the importance of eating local

Bring your own lunch and some to share at foodcamp
Im just back from a trip to Kilkenny after spending a fantastic few days at Savour Kilkenny and on Friday at foodcamp. A first for Ireland, Foodcamp was organised to allow chefs, foodies, farmers, food prodcuers and all those involved in food boards to get together in the one place. 20 different sessions were held over the day, all in a spirit of not advertising but sharing best practices, ideas and inspiration. Unfortunately sessions were held across 4 different rooms which meant it was almost impossible to decide which to attend and as a result I missed some fascinating sessions. The ones I most missed were on Honey by Philip McCabe and Lucy from's talk on health tips for foodies.

Those that I caught were fantastic and some of the many things I jotted down during the sessions and panel  included some of these facts:

  • More than 15% of the worlds baby food is produced in Ireland
  • now gets over 40million visitors per month, up more than 60% since the beginning of the year
  • 78% of us trust peer recommendations most. 
  • Marketing through Social media is the most efficient (and cheapest) way of marketing when done right
  • Most Irish artisan producers have had a 20-30% increase in business since last year (despite all the doom and gloom)
  • In 2007 41% of Irish people considered the term "local food" as food from Ireland, now that number is only 10% with almost half considering it as food from their own neighbourhoods
  • With over 15 million acres of land for fishing accesible to Irish fishers we export more than 80% of it out of Ireland. 
  • Delia Smiths favourite blue cheese is Cashel blue (completely random fact from John McKenna)
There was such a positive message from all speakers and a real sense that people were trying to innovate, find new ways of marketing cooperatively and trying to make life better for all Irish food producers. Wendy  spoke about bringing up her 6 kids on a farm and inspiring her youngest and his friends to look forward to their lives as farmers. She also spoke about the movement of women innovating on farms around Ireland, something I remember a lot from all the female farmers who started cheesmaking when things were tough talking about while at Ballymaloe.
prized mushrooms
Sally McKenna of Bridgestone guides and Donal Doherty of Harrys restaurant spoke about the importance of social media in building food businesses and some fascinating stories of small producers who have done just this. Donal showed a slightly obscene video on how to catch razor clams and I was lucky enough to win some amazing mushrooms including a massive cep that he had picked on his mushroom hunt. I cant wait to get these to a frying pan with butter!

One other talk I attended was by two lovely food bloggers Caroline and Kristen  who were announcing the new Irishfoodbloggers association. Im looking forward to getting my teeth stuck into this website!

All in all the key message I took from the day was the importance of supporting local Irish food producers as spending money locally on food produced locally is one of the key ways of getting our economy growing again. Needless to say no further encouragement was needed and I came home with a nice piece of smoked trout from Goatsbridge along with some lovely Knockdrinna goats cheese.


  1. Hi Deirdre, I didn't go to foodcamp, but I did follow some of the tweets, and I think someone video'd or recorded some of the talks- it may have been @eventmedia. I believe the honey talk was one of them. My twitter is wonky at the mo' or I'd check for you! It sounds like it was an inspiring day, & I'm sorry I missed it. Those are some interesting facts; & I had no idea about the baby food!

  2. Lovely to meet you (finally!) at foodcamp. I also wished I could have attended more of the talks - I did get to the one on bees and it (like the rest of the day) was inspiring. Makes me want to get a beehive of my own :)

  3. thanks for that Susan, will definitely keep an eye out for the honey talk.

    Ms. Spud, I came home thinking the same about getting a beehive, might wait until the fiasco over the hens has died down a bit first before mentioning it!

  4. Thanks for coming along Deirdre - that mushroom must have been gorgeous. Fair play to Donal for bring them along.



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