Sometimes, eating your fill is not just about filling your belly.
Though it may not be the first thing that springs to mind as you inhale a morning bowl of cornflakes or succumb to the salt and vinegar temptation of a post-pub bag of chips, eating is, as author Michael Pollan has said, both an environmental and a political act, “for how we choose to eat represents our most profound engagement with the natural world.” Ah yes, you can always trust Michael Pollan to pile on the weightiness when it comes to food and food matters.
Still, the man does have a point. We do not eat in isolation – even the most mundane-seeming meal may be the end result of a complex global production chain and has a bearing on more than just our personal feeling of fullness. As it happens, there are two far from mundane events taking place in Dublin later this month which aim to both fill our plates and get us thinking about how that food got there and what food got left behind.
Next Sunday, November 18th, sees the SPUDS.ie Tastefest at The Fumbally in Dublin 8 – where folks who have grown naturally blight resistant varieties of potato will bring them for tasting – while on the following Saturday, November 24th, those in the vicinity of Dublin city centre are invited to avail of a free meal, as well as plenty of food for thought, at the Feeding the 5000 event, which aims to highlight the global issue that is food waste, and is being held in Wolfe Tone Park in Dublin 1.
SPUDS.ie (Sustainable Potatoes United Development Study) was started earlier this year as a reaction to the granting of approval here in Ireland to Teagasc to trial potatoes which have been genetically modified to encourage blight resistance. In advance of what turned out to be a very blight-conducive summer, SPUDS provided volunteer growers with seed potatoes for a number of naturally blight resistant potato varieties from the Sarvari Trust – such as Sarpo Axona and Blue Danube – and the time has now come to taste the results and judge whether these provide a viable, and more environmentally friendly alternative for Irish potato cultivation (for more information on the project, you can download a copy of the inaugural SPUDS.ie newsletter here).
Feeding the 5000, meanwhile, aims to draw attention to the issue of food waste by creating a meal for a biblically-sized group of 5000 people using wonky vegetables and other food items that would otherwise have gone to waste (including those potatoes that get graded out of existence because they do not conform to some EU-regulated or supermarket idea of the ‘right’ size). It follows similar events in London, Bristol and Paris, and is the brainchild of Tristram Stuart. It’s worth taking 15 minutes to hear what he has to say on the topic of food waste below.
If you’re interested in hearing Tristram in person, as well as availing yourself of some waste-not-want-not veggie curry – the moreishness of which I can vouch for, having had a preview at the launch this week – do head along to the Dublin event on the 24th. Full schedule below.