More Food For Thought

The second part of Litfest….

Once you get beyond individual diners and restaurateurs, you may enter the murky world of the food industry. If you’re of the opinion that ignorance in bliss, don’t listen to Joanna Blythman! She gave a demonstration of the difference in ingredients between homemade and shop-bought mayonnaise and hummus. Suffice to say, the more shop bought and ‘light’/low fat the product, the longer the list of ingredients. She also discussed the growing area of ‘Free From’, suggesting that gluten ‘intolerance’ (as opposed to coeliac disease) may be partly due to the industrial production of supermarket sliced pans. Apparently gluten free sliced pans aren’t any better (WB cringing silently at back of room thinking ‘But the toast, the toast….’).

It’s not all doom & gloom. Aoibheann O’Brien of Foodcloud talked about harnessing the power of business in a positive way, working with supermarkets to avoid food waste by donating to charitable organisations.  This too showed the waste potential of the food industry though- one donation was of ‘food that can’t be brought to market’, a crate of ice cream where the chocolate chips had distributed unevenly. Imagine the waste  of such ‘imperfect’ food were it not for Foodcloud and initiatives such as Wonky Veg.

It’s a far cry from the industrial language of food production to hear Claudia Roden speak about food and culture: telling stories and building relationships: ‘how food, like music, can touch you and make you cry’. Claudia discussed the concept of ‘Gastro-patriotism’ as a response to globalization and homogenization.  If Litfest isn’t full of gastro-patriots, I don’t know where is.

From the world population to the world of nature. My Litfest finale was a seashore forage with Alys Fowler, along with the privileges of being author liaison: driving said Claudia Roden to the beach and carrying her handbag while we walked over rocks and dunes. Now, there’s something you don’t get to do every day!

Photographer Daniel Callan lending a helping hand to Claudia Roden on Ardnahinch Beach.






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