Food for the Soul

Food on BoardThe Body & Soul Festival 2016 was held recently in the grounds of Ballinlough Castle, Co. Westmeath. Dee Laffan, a passionate campaigner against food waste, found much of interest to report on, including great contributions from some well known food producers, chefs and writers.

One of many weekend music festivals on the Irish scene, each with its own unique personality, the USPs at the heart of Body & Soul are art, theatre, culture and music. Each area is adorned with light and art installations and many attendees wear fancy dress to take part in a sort of combined performance over the weekend.

This year, the Walled Garden was home to a new project, Food on Board, the brainchild of Jack Crotty of The Rocket Man Food Company based in Cork.

The idea behind Food on Board was to create a collective of food companies from all corners of the country, to provide festival goers with an area where they can relax and escape from the slight madness outside while enjoying quality food prepared with sustainability and provenance in mind. Food providers included some of Ireland’s edgiest kitchen thinkers such as The Market Kitchen, Assassination Custard, Katie Sanderson, The Sharp Knife and Gruel Gorilla.

What Yurt Talking About?

The principle of Food on Board, and the idea behind its name, is a desire for less waste in the world, including food waste, packaging and food service items. Each dish from a Food on Board stall holder was served on bespoke wooden boards – 800 were made especially for the event – and when people were finished eating they returned their board, which was then washed and reused; all plastic and paper was collected for recycling; and all food waste was put in a compost bin, which was composted onsite by Harp Renewables.

Harp Renewables have created organic waste digesters to reduce food waste into dry material, similar to coffee grinds, in 24 hours. This composted material can then be used to as a high-energy biomass fuel. For example, it could have been used to heat the water for the showers in the campsites of the festival – food for thought for next year!

In a corner of Food on Board was the conversation yurt – What Yurt Talkin’ About? – where a line up of food producers, chefs, writers, performers and many more involved in the food industry in some way, spoke about a topic that they are passionate about.

Kevin Thornton - Tribal Cooking

Performers included: Virginia O’Gara from My Goodness Food chatting about a permaculture approach to creating recipes, making kombucha, vinegars and her amazing rain water keffir, which everyone got to sample; Birgitta Curtin from the Burren Smokehouse gave an insightful talk about the ins and outs of smoking fish and the importance of supporting Irish food producers; chef Kevin Thornton demonstrated tribal cooking and spoke about how travel inspires food; Clare Anne O’Keefe chef and food curator at the Dublin Science Gallery spoke about the taste of things to come and bringing science and food to life through the exhibitions and events at the gallery; TTIP was a hot topic all weekend being mentioned by many speakers, and was thoroughly discussed by attendees of Dr. Ollie Moore’s incisive talk on the matter.

For more on food at Food on Board, including the full line up of speakers, visit:


Dee Laffan

Dee Laffan is a freelance food writer and editor. Formerly editor of Easy Food magazine, she has written for the Irish Independent and Sunday Independent. She is a proud supporter of Irish producers and their products, and takes part in judging for food competitions including Blas na hÉireann and the Great Taste Awards. She is a member of the Irish Food Writers' Guild and secretary for Slow Food Dublin. Twitter @deelaffan

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