Thursday, 13 December 2018

Eat local

We live in Ireland, have done for the last near 30 years, and we'd like to think it's a happenin' place rather than a rural backwater on the edge of Europe. Certainly we get all excited when something creative bursts out of Ireland and becomes A Thing in the wider world. Let's think . . . The Book of Kells, Guinness, U2, RyanairIdentigen, Stripe, CoderDojo, Nob├│ . . . note that two of those global brands are in the Food & Bev sector. There must be more F&B globals because Ireland is renowned for its 40 shades of green Kerrygold smoked salmon. If there's anywhere on the island that's down with the food, then it's got to be The People's Republic of Cork. Dau.II works in the epicentre of ├ępicerie - The English Market in the centre of Cork City. When she came to visit on the weekend, as well as some olives and some fancy french pastries, she brought news of two interesting local foodie start-ups at least one of which has burst out on to a wider international stage.

Hive Mind operates out of Myrtleville, Co Cork, on the idea We Keep The Hives You Keep The Honey. Why would I need that? you ask, I can get Boyne Valley Squeezable for about €8.00/kg and Boyne Valley Pure and Natural for €11.00/kg. That makes suspicious-me wonder WTF is in the (Impure & Unnatural) cheaper stuff. And before you assume that Boyne Valley honey has been sourced and dew-picked from an Irish hive be sure to read the small print on the label. Packed in Ireland, produce of Many Countries is likely.  I've had a slap at the difference between smoked Irish salmon and Irish smoked salmon. Immediately after that you should be looking for the Fair Trade symbol . . . and not finding it. That should assure you that some peasant in Honduras and Guatamala is working at the hive for rather less than a latte-an-hour - possibly a latte-a-day. Me, I prefer the wholly industrial food-chemist-created Lyle's Golden Syrup for about €2.00/kg - at least for my flapjacks. Hive Mind will take €300 off you at the beginning of the year and give you the produce of a single hive - which averages 15kg/year. They will cut you in for a 1/3rd share at €100/yr. That sounds like a good deal from me: knowing and trusting your supplier is important if you are to have any foodie street-cred at all at all. And you'll get a fortnightly progress report by e-mail through the season. I'm assuming that, if your hive gets colony collapse disease or varroa or gets eaten by a marauding bear, then you-the-venturer have to suck up the loss. Contrariwise if it is a bumper season with accessible clover Trifolium repens and a finish of ivy Hedera hibernica then you get all the bounty. Sounds like something for which there should be an insurance market.

The other Cork-founded Food&Bev asset is Neighbourfood [neighbourhood geddit?] which serves as a nexus between foodie consumers and a range of local farmers and food producers. How it works: You order on the web, pay by credit card and collect your basket of earthly delight on Tuesday evening.
  • Delights?
    • How about Free-Range Chicken, Organic Veggies, Fermented Tonics, Freshly Made ready-to-eat meals, buffalo meat, chocolate, beer, preserves, oils, body care bits, ice cream, freshly cut flowers, real bread, natural/biodynamic wines, sweet treats, sugar-free sweet treats pantry essentials and even kindling, logs and much much more
I believe them when they claim that the process of collection is part of the positive experience. In Lidaldi I feel bullied into scrabbling my groceries off the check-out under the baleful eye of the check-out person who is being productivity paced by the management. Neighbourfood sounds like our Subtitles Film Society you go along expecting to meet your friends and neighbours-in-food, and maybe the producers. Swap a few recipes, praise the new ice-cream, moan about the weather, and try not to imagine which one is your husband's lover. Common ground makes Community.

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