As soon as I landed in Shannon, ready to embark on the trip that was ahead of me, my stomach began to grumble as I smelled the variety of foods around me. After being in Ireland for a little while now it seems as though the majority of food comes from local sources. For example, the bread at the eco-village hostel that we stayed at in Cloughjordan was made from all natural ingredients and vegetables that were grown on site, and baked by hand. The meats are from local cows, pigs, lamb, etc., instead of being imported, and the milk and yogurt tastes as though it was just packaged. This not only ensures freshness, but also good health for the person consuming it.
Almost all of the meals that Johanna, a resident of the eco-village, cooked for us were made from ingredients that were grown on site. For breakfast we were served homemade brown bread with local butter; As soon as I walked in to the kitchen in the morning I could smell the warm and hearty bread that was awaiting me. We could also have boxed cereal, but it was served with fresh and local milk which certainly made a difference. For lunch there was more brown bread and butter but it accompanied vegetable soup and open-faced sandwiches. The vegetable soup is not what one may picture it to be in America – it is puréed and almost always has the same vegetables like carrots, potatoes, peas, etc., in every bowl. If it has added mushrooms – it’s a big deal! The sandwiches are almost always ham and cheese, turkey and cheese, tuna salad, smoked salmon, or tomato and cheese. Because we were on a class trip, most of our meals were pre-ordered so we could not choose what to eat – which was fine! However, in an article from Irish Independent I learned that, “Up to 80,000 people in Ireland are now morbidly obese.” This fact surprised me, but taught me that the Irish locals are not eating as healthy as we were during our class trip.
In fact, one day at lunch at Tigh Ned in Inisheer I heard a man say, “Fish and chips ey, just like every day!” It was interesting to hear this because that is a very heavy meal to have at lunchtime every day, but I figured it may be a cultural thing! It was also eye-opening to read the article from the Irish Independent because I figured that everyone in Ireland must take advantage of the fresh and healthy food, but like everywhere in the world, there are people who do not make those healthy decisions.
Nevertheless, I thought the food in Ireland was healthy, fresh and delicious! I hope that I can take the advice of the people here and make sure that more of my meals at home are made from both fresh and local ingredients; I have now learned that the benefits of doing this are endless, and will only help me in the future.