The TASTE Council of Ireland

The TASTE Council of Ireland

The TASTE Council of Ireland*, in conjunction with Bord Bia, last Friday launched the ‘Future is Food’ education module at the third national food symposium at Ballymaloe House, Shanagarry, Co. Cork, with over 100 artisan food industry and education representatives in attendance. The theme of this year’s symposium was education in order to address how to broaden the appeal of local foods, artisanal foods and speciality foods for future generations. The module is aimed at increasing Transition Year students’ awareness and understanding of the food industry and the artisan sector in particular.

Referring to the launch of the initiative, Simon Coveney, TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine stated “Food Harvest 2020 highlighted the emergence of a significant artisan food sector, responding to consumer demands for locally produced and distinctive foods. This has brought a new stream of entrepreneurs into the artisan sector, which now directly supports 3,000 jobs. The ‘Food is the Future;’ Transition Year module will introduce a new generation of students to the richness of local food and to the skills required for taking micro food enterprises to the next level.  I would like to thank and congratulate the Taste Council and the pilot schools for committing to an exciting project highlighting food as a driver of the local economy.”

The ‘Food is Future’ Module
Discussing the role of education in the future of Ireland’s artisan sector, Cait Noone, Education Spokesperson, TASTE Council of Ireland, said, “The ‘Food is Future’ module aims to highlight and explore how practical education can increase students’ appreciation of the economic, environmental and social benefits of the food industry. We need to teach the younger generation about the immense value that artisan food producers play in Ireland’s agricultural landscape and relay the unique product and brand stories.”

According to a recent survey amongst the cohort, 70% of respondents would like to know more about artisan food produced in their local area. “By introducing educational programmes such as this, designed with industry input, we can potentially access over 30,000 of the future farmers, producers, chefs and, above all, purchasers” she added. The interactive process introduces the concepts of entrepreneurship and innovation and how they are applied in the sector. The Institute of Technology sector will provide assistance and guidance to students wishing to develop new products. The students will also have access to artisan producers, who have offered their services on a voluntary basis.

The module is being piloted in a selected number of secondary schools this September, including; Coláiste Chiaráin in Croom, Co. Limerick, the Ursuline Secondary School, Thurles, Abbey Secondary School, Tipperary Town, Dublin based schools, St. Laurence College and Alexandra College, and  Avondale Community College, Rathdrum, Co. Wicklow.

Food Summer School
Now an annual event in the food industry calendar, the Summer School involves a series of presentations and panel discussions, talks and debates involving industry experts, opinion formers and stakeholders from the food and education sectors. The event provided a forum for discussion and lively debate on future education policies for the sector.

Aidan Cotter, CEO, Bord Bia commented, “Small food businesses are important contributors to the prosperity of the domestic economy, including rural-based employment, high value-added production, food tourism and the development of a culture and image which enhances the brand of all Irish food. Their prosperity and growth not only benefits the individual businesses; it also strengthens the community and the image of Ireland as a provider of high quality, sustainable food excellence.”

Keynote speakers addressing the event, chaired by John Bowman, veteran broadcaster, include; international food writers, Australian Stephanie Alexander and Camilla Plum, an organic farmer in Demark; Julien Couaillier from Passion Cereales, a French educational model; Alice Waters of Chez Panisse restaurant in California and the US Edible School Yard Programme by video link; Dr. Jim Murray of the Institute of Technology Ireland, who presented on the role of third level education; and Ruth Hegarty of Euro Toques. (Full presentations are available at

The TASTE Council of Ireland continue to reiterate the importance of the potential of the artisan sector. According to its Food Harvest 2020 submission, the TASTE Council of Ireland believes the industry could grow to provide 7,500 new jobs and an additional €4.1 billion to the local economy over the next eight years.