I’ve been privileged this past week to have had four longish conversations with local food heroes: Kay Harte of the Farmgate CafĂ©  in Cork’s English Market, Pat Whelan of James Whelan Butchers  in Clonmel, Con Traas of the Apple Farm  in Cahir and Avril Allshire-Howe of Rosscarbery Recipes and Caherbeg Pork.

Had a couple of hours with Kay when she hosted myself and two US bloggers from the mega site Then made a long promised trip to Tipp to see Pat Whelan and his marvelous shop and hear his history in food and his plans for the future, particularly that new shop that opens in Monkstown (Dublin) next week; lucky people in the Monkstown area.

And then called to the Apple Farm at Moorstown near Cahir where I met Con Traas. Lots of tidying-up work going on in the orchards and in the raised strawberry "beds" and a new processing building coming close to completion. Such a positive busy man in a positive place. And still time to pick me a four leaf clover.

Later in the week, I drove down to Supervalu (what a friendly supermarket!) in Ticknock in Cobh to see Avril who was on duty with her samples of her black and white pudding. The black is good but the white is really amazing and is a great match with scallops. Avril is on the road regularly and will be travelling all over the county every day ‘til Christmas and still finds time to help the food movement in West Cork.

Just underlines the hard work people in the food business put in. That is common to all that I’ve met in recent years. All too are proud of their work and are passionate about their produce and all talk of their integrity. And it is not just talk. They make sure the food you get is well sourced, in many cases they have control from start to finish, and quite often they have turned down the big bucks to stay cuiseach beag and maintain their integrity.

It was a pretty dull gloomy week all around, both in weather and financial terms. Yet these four showed me the bright side. I’m sure you all know someone like them, in your own county, in your own parish. Quite often, it is a family effort, with both parents and kids involved.

They should be supported by us. In the shops, in the markets, in the restaurants and wherever we eat and drink. Might not halt the economic storms but, sink or swim, by buying local, you’ll eat better!