Small Business Column: Kehlan Kirwan looks at Ireland’s small artisan food producers

Kehlan Kirwan from the ‘Small Business Show’ looks at Ireland’s small artisan food producers and why they are turning Ireland into the food haven of Europe.

Small Business Column:  Kehlan Kirwan looks at Ireland’s small artisan food producers

I love food. It’s why I started jogging again and taking the dog for longer walks. Living here in Ireland, and in particular the west, you get to see and meet some of the best food producers in the country.

Everywhere you go no matter how rural, there is somebody creating edible food journeys on a plate.

Order something on the menu of a good restaurant now, and you should be able to go around the plate and know where everything came from. The fish is caught in the bay; the potatoes come from the growers down the road; the desserts come from the bakers across the street.

Food has now become not simply dishes but an envelope to open up and discover what’s inside. A road map of where you are in the world as you eat.

We are still noted for our traditional dishes, but following on quickly is food which is built on a belief in keeping it local and keeping jobs there too.

I recently attended the Burren Slow Food Festival in Clare. There was some fabulous businesses there. When you took the time to talk to them there was a theme running through what they had to say. They want to grow their business of course, but it has to have ethics and it has to support local. Buy locally and that money stays locally.

There is also an education happening too. The type of education which brings you in to it, no pretentiousness here. We as consumers have been so blind to what quality actually is, as processed foods are now staples on our menus and taste buds.

The difference in taste in something like sausages or salad is notable. The flavours come crashing into you and then you have that moment of realisation. I’ve been missing out on this.

The argument of cost is becoming a non-entity too. Many top food producers are offering real value for money and when you think that what they produce doesn’t roll off a production line, it does represent real value for money. We often base our choices of buying food on price.

My family operates a food budget like many households but we have recently realised that paying a little more for your food makes a real difference to the quality of food the family eats.

In turn, small food producers are at the forefront of healthy eating. Maximum flavours with minimum additives and preservatives.

Ireland is making an impressive name for itself in the food world. Food tours around Ireland is now a growth market, for food and tourism both.

Good food is also encouraging people to stay in places and regions too. The key for a successful tourism strategy. The artisan food industry isn’t just putting Ireland on the map, it’s creating the map.

Listen to this week and previous shows

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