Author Archives: Fionnuala

About Fionnuala

Fionnuala Collins works at East Clare Community Co-operative and is the Irish co-ordinator for this project. A philosophy graduate, she has furthered her studies with Community Development practice and Youth and Community work. Fionnuala is interested in how food can build partnerships and communities, especially in the act of sharing nutritious meals as a form of celebration. She is interested in why food poverty exists, and if there are really foods and diet lifestyles that either boost or destroy health. Fionnuala thinks The future of food partnership will bring together many aspects of community development practice and sustainable food production and sharing. Furthermore through sharing ideas, research and learning on what is the right direction for the future of food we might learn if there is a sustainable and health enhancing diet for the here and now.

The Benefits of Raw food-

Benefits of Raw Food

20140422_123420           20140422_190939 20140420_152519  foraged meal                20140422_190930     let the food be with you 20140421_100328

The raw food diet is based on the belief that food is most healthful when it is uncooked (not heated above 118C/48F) in order to preserve the enzymes. Enzymes are the life force of food, they are responsible for every metabolic action in the body and they are the catalysts that enable cells to work and chemical reactions to happen without themselves being consumed in the process. Every food contains the perfect mix of enzymes necessary for complete digestion; however cooking above 118C/48F destroys these enzymes forcing our bodies to generate their own. And our bodies cannot produce the same quality enzymes as nature does, therefore we cannot always digest our food properly and we are all familiar with what can happen when we don’t digest our food properly. Also certain vitamins are destroyed above 118C/48F such as vitamin C and folic acid.

A raw diet is composed of the purest wholesome ingredients which are unprocessed, unrefined, no synthetic flavourings or preservatives and therefore are broken down slowly and feed the body with sustained energy.

Raw food can be prepared in a variety of ways, chopping, blending, slicing, shredding, juicing or dehydrating and usually requires advanced planning for example nuts and grains might need to be soaked, some seeds are best sprouted and some dishes need to be dehydrated for several hours. You can’t just throw a meal on the table without prior planning and being organised.

Some of the reasons to include more raw fresh food in your diet

  • They contain anti-aging enzymes
  • Aid effortless weight loss
  • Have better flavour and texture than cooked counterparts
  • Generate super levels of health
  • Diminish tiredness
  • Provide more nutrients
  • Give more energy and endurance
  • Promote healthy skin, hair and nails
  • Better sleep patterns
  • Increased mental clarity
  • High water content prevents dehydration

Getting Started

  • Buy and eat organic whenever possible and always wash fruit and veg.
  • Have raw food at every meal and for snacks ( for example a smoothie for breakfast, salad for lunch and dinner, snack on fruit or vegetables)
  • Include a full spectrum of colours and all five tastes-sweet, salty, sour, pungent, and bitter
  • Avoid processed, fast and fried foods
  • Reduce dairy products
  • Introduce freshly made vegetable juices and fruit smoothies to your diet
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Eat sprouts and algae
  • Introduce more dark, leafy green vegetables this can be easily done by juicing or making smoothies (green is the colour of healing)
  • Experiment with new ingredients and recipes
  • Change your eating habits slowly to allow your body and lifestyle  to adapt, changes made too quickly can put stress on the body

Even a small proportion of raw food in your diet can have significant health benefits.

Powerhouse Foods

Fresh ingredients

Alfalfa Sprouts are a good source of chlorophyll and vitamins especially vitamin E and beta carotene. Also contain digestive aiding enzymes, amino acids, carbohydrates and minerals.

Avocado is one of the most complete foods, with plenty of fibre and the perfect balance of essential fatty acids.

Beetroot is high in beta carotene and folic acid, it helps cleanse the liver and prevent heart disease when eaten regularly.

Cucumber is an excellent diuretic and system cleanser rich in vitamin B calcium and folic acid. Thanks to its high water content it aids the function of the kidney, liver and pancreas.

Dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, rocket/arugula, spinach, and watercress are among the most under consumed but most nutritious vegetables with lots of fibre, enzymes and antioxidants. They are a rich source of iron, potassium, calcium and magnesium, vitamin C, E and K and B vitamins. They protect our cells damage and may help prevent heart disease and disease. Eat them with a little fat as it helps the absorption of fat soluble vitamin K.

Dates are rich in dietary fibre, antioxidants such as beta carotene, lutein and minerals including potassium, calcium, manganese, iron and copper. They replenish energy and revitalise the body immediately due to a high concentration of simple sugars like fructose and dextrose.

Ginger has many health giving essential oils which improve digestion and have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. It is a very rich source of many essential nutrients and vitamins such as B6 and B5 and minerals including potassium, copper and manganese.

Kale is the dark green powerhouse high in calcium, vitamin A, and C, a powerful detoxifier and is known as the king of juicing.

Parsley is rich in vitamin A and C, iron, calcium and potassium, as well as chlorophyll. It is of great value as a diuretic. Add a bunch to all fresh juices.

Spinach is rich in Vitamin A and K, folic acid and iron. It also contains flavonoids, compounds that do double duty as anti oxidants and cancer fighters.

Sprouts are some of the most nutritious foods on the planet. They are said to be rich in vitamins, minerals, amino acids and a tr4easure trove of plant enzymes, which are at their most abundant in the early sprouting stage. When you sprout seeds or beans what you produce is an enhanced package of the nutrients already present in the original seed. Seeds, beans, nuts and grains such as chickpeas, mung beans, lentils, adzuki beans are all easy to sprout at home in 3-4 days and can be done in jam jars. Only use whole seeds and beans split ones won’t sprout.

Watercress is a rich source of vitamin A and C, iron and calcium. It plays an important role in combating cancer and some research has shown it to have natural antibiotic properties.  Add it to your salads, juices, and smoothies on a daily basis.

Store cupboard ingredients

Agave nectar is 1.5 times sweeter than table sugar resulting in fewer calories as you use less. It is also slightly lower on the glycaemic index.

Chlorella powder is a single celled water grown micro algae widely known a s a powerful super food. It contains all the B vitamins, vitamin C, E and beta carotene, amino acids, magnesium, iron and other minerals. It binds toxins and carries them out of the body. It cleanses the blood, optimises oxygen and increases white blood cell count.

Coconut oil/butter is a great multi tasker. You can smear it cook with it and eat it! It has powerful anti bacterial and anti viral properties and it makes a great moisturiser and scalp and hair conditioner. You can use it in smoothies, desserts and as a lip balm and it is fast becoming very popular for oil pulling! In its solid state it is butter so melt gently to get oil.

Himalayan rock salt is minimally processed, maintains much of its mineral content (over 80 minerals!) and is highly alkalising.

Nama shoyu is unpasteurised soy sauce and although it is heated well above standard raw temperatures it still retains live enzymes.

Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast sold in flakes or powder. It is a complete protein and contains B complex. It has a nutty cheesy flavour and is often used by vegans as a cheese.

Oils. When buying oils go for cold pressed which is the first press and not heated or exposed to chemical procedures therefore they have more flavour and offer more nutritional value. Look for oil in dark bottles and where possible buy from the fridge in your health food store.

Spirulina powder is an algae and the highest natural protein food on the planet with all of the essential amino acids required for optimum health. Among its many benefits it contains 50 times more iron than is found in the same amount of spinach.

Water. I recommend that you use filtered water for sprouting, soaking, smoothies, drinking and all food recipes that call for water especially if like us Irish fluoride is being added to your tap water, also we have no idea what is in our tap water from medications etc… showing up in recycled water.

Nuts and seeds

Almonds are the healthiest nuts with calcium and magnesium for strong bones. Vitamin E and phyto chemicals which may help prevent cardiovascular disease and cancer. Almond milk is a great alternative to cow’s milk.

Cashews are mild sweet nuts that are packed with energy antioxidants minerals and vitamins. They are a good source of selenium, copper, zinc, B5, B6 and B1.

Chia seeds are not widely known in Europe but that is changing as people learn more about this great energy food. They are rich in Omega 3 oils, including alpha linolenic acid, fibre and essential minerals.  Soak in water and add to smoothies and juices.

Pumpkin seeds contain measurable amounts of zinc, iron and calcium. They are an excellent snack food supplying protein and B complex vitamins.

Sunflower seeds are high in vitamin E and are also a good source of B1 and phytosterols which are believed to reduce cholesterol, enhance immunity and decrease the risk of certain cancers.

Walnuts have the highest content of Omega £ oils among all the tree nuts.



Raw Recipes for Summer

RAW Recipes…Smoothies, juices, dressings and super salads

 from Irish raw chef Trish O’Brien


Green Super Smoothie

1 Banana, 1 Kiwi and 1 apple, peeled and chopped, 1 handful of spinach, ¼ teasp of chlorella and ¼ teasp of spirulina(optional), 200 mls of water. Put all ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth

Almond Milk

1 cup of almonds soaked overnight, 4 cups of water, honey to taste (optional). Put all ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth, then strain and store in the fridge. You can make many nut milks hazlenuts or cashews are a good option.

Strawberry cashew shake with gogi berries

1½ cups of strawberries, 2 cups of water, ½ cup of cashews, 2 large ripe bananas, 1 tablespoon of gogi berries. Put all ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth. Divide between 2-3 glasses and serve immediately.

Apple, fennel and broccoli juice 

3-4 large apples, 200g broccoli, 250g fennel (about 1 large bulb)1 lemon  peel and pith removed. Put all ingredients through a juicer divide between two glasses and drink immediately.

Detox lemonade

The juice of 2-3 large lemons, 2 cups of water, 1 ½ tablespoons of pure maple syrup or raw honey, 2 pinches of ground cayenne pepper. Put all ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth. Serve slightly chilled.


Salads and Dressings

Chicory and apple with walnuts (serves 4)

1 large apple, juice of ½ a lemon, 7 oz of celeriac peeled and coarsely grated, 3 plump heads of chicory/Belgian endive, ½ cup of walnut pieces soaked for 6 hours and drained thoroughly, himalayan rock salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Core the apples if desired and slice thinly, transfer to a bowl with the lemon juice and celeriac and toss to coat in the juice. Set aside. Separate the chicory leaves and put in a bowl. Pour over the mustard dressing. Add the apple and celeriac.  Toss with a spoon and fork so that everything is well coated. Taste for seasoning sprinkle with the walnuts and serve straight away.

Mustard dressing

¼ cup of ex virgin olive oil, ¼ cup of balsamic vinegar or apple cider,1 ½ tblspns Dijon mustard, Himalayan salt and ground pepper. Put all ingredients in a screw top jar and shake well until emulsified.

Parsnip tabbouleh

2 large parsnips, peeled and cubed, 1 cucumber, 3 large tomatoes, seeded, 2 large handfuls of fresh parsley, 1 small handful of fresh mint, juice of 1½ lemons, 3 tblspns olive oil, Himalayan salt and ground pepper. Put the parsnips in a food processor and pulse a few times until finely chopped to resemble grains of bulghar wheat, transfer to a bowl. Dice the cucumber and tomatoes and finely chop the herbs. Add to bowl and mix together. Add the lemon juice, oil add seasoning. Mix well. Leave to stand in a fridge for at least 1 hour or overnight if possible to allow the flavours to develop

Apple, cabbage and raisin salad

7oz savoy cabbage, 7oz red cabbage, cored, and very finely shred, 1-2 apples cored and grated, 2 tblspns raisins, salt and pepper. Put all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Add the almond sauce and season to taste.

Almond sauce (only use half for above recipe)

3 celery stalks roughly chopped, ½ cup of raw almond butter, 3 tblspns lemon juice (1 large lemon), 1 handful of fresh parsley, chopped, 1 garlic clove, peeled, ½ teasp of himalayan salt, freshly ground black pepper. Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until quite smooth, add a little water if necessary.

Avocado and tomato salad with red pepper chilli dressing

1 generous cup of cherry tomatoes, halved, 1 small handful of spinach, 1 red onion, thinly sliced, 1 handful of fresh coriander, chopped, 1 handful of fresh parsley chopped, 2 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and thickly sliced, 1 handful of pumpkin seeds. Put all the ingredients except the pumpkin seeds in a bowl and toss with the dressing divide between 4 plates and sprinkle with the seeds.


Red pepper chilli dressing

½ cup of cashews, soaked for ½  an hour, 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped, 1 fresh red or green chilli, 1 teasp ground paprika, 1/3 red onion chopped, juice of 1 lemon, 1 tablespoon of nama shoyu (unpasteurised soy sauce) salt and black pepper. Thoroughly drain the cashews and put in a blender with the remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth and creamy.



Waldorf Caesar salad

4 cups of romaine lettuce, 2-3 chopped dates, 1 chopped apple, ½ cup of grapes, sprinkle of black pepper or nutritional yeast, 1-2 tblspns of Caesar dressing. Combine ingredients and enjoy!

Caesar dressing

½ cup of almonds, ¼ cup of hazlenuts, 3-5 medjool dates, 5 basil leaves, 1 tblspn nutritional yeast, 3-4 thumb sized garlic cloves, ¼ teasp Himalayan salt, ¼ teasp cracked pepper, ¼ cup of coconut water, juice of 4-5 lemons. Blend all ingredients and mix 1-2 tblspns with the salad, toss and serve. This is lovely with just lettuce leaves and broccoli sprouts also.

Broccoli mango salad

1 ripe mango and 1 ripe avocado, diced, 1 head of broccoli, chopped, 3 dates chopped or 2 tblsp of raisins. Mix together in a bowl and enjoy. This is nice with some orange segments and a squeeze of orange juice.

Carrot and beet salad with walnuts

2 carrots, 1 beetroot, peeled and coarsely grated, 1 handful of walnuts quartered, 2 big handfuls of rocket/arugula and mustard dressing (above) Mix the carrots, beetroot and walnuts together and stir in enough dressing to coat. Serve the mixture on a bed of rocket.

Thai cabbage salad

½ small savoy cabbage, very finely chopped/shredded, 1 carrot grated. Mix all ingredients together and stir in enough thai dressing to coat, then divide between4-6 leaves of romaine lettuce leaves and sprinkle with a small handful of fresh coriander/cilantro chopped.

Thai dressing

2/3 cup of cashews, freshly squeezed juice of 3 lemons, ½ inch of ginger, peeled and chopped, ½ fresh chilli, chopped, 3 tblspns olive oil, 1 tblspn nama shoyu, 3 tblspns maple syrup or raw honey, ½ cup of water. Put all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blitz until smooth.



Balsamic vinaigrette (makes approx 1 cup)

½ cup of extra virgin olive oil, ¼ cup of balsamic vinegar, 1½ tblspns nama shoyu, 1½  tblspns apple cider vinegar, 1½ tblspns maple syrup or raw honey. Put in a screw top jar and shake until emulsified

Citrus dressing makes about  (1 ½  cups)

Juice of 1 orange, and 1 lemon, 1 tblspn nama shoyu, 1 tblspn agave nectar, ¼ fresh chilli seeded and chopped, ½ inch of ginger p[eeled and chopped, 2/3 cup of ex virgin olive oil. Blend until smooth in blender or processor.

Dill vinaigrette (makes 1 cup)

2/3 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup of lemon juice, 1 teasp Dijon mustard, ½ tblspn raw honey, 2 teasps white wine vinegar, 1 handful of fresh dill, finely chopped, 3 tblspns water, salt and pepper. Put all ingredients in a screwtop jar and shake until emulsified.

Ginger shoyu  marinade

1¼ cups of sesame oil (cold pressed, unrefined, untoasted), 3 tblspns nama shoyu, 3 tblspns agave nectar, juice of 5 limes, 1 garlic clove peeled, 1 red chilli chopped, ¾ inch of ginger peeled and chopped, 1 small handful of fresh coriander/cilantro chopped, salt to taste. Blitz in a blender or food processor until smooth.


Seaweed Foraging

Seaweed Foraging – Spain April 2014 – from Eileen Toomey


As part of my contribution to the Future of Food project. I committed to bring knowledge of seaweed foraging and the nutritional benefits of this superfood to the participants. I am very fortunate to live on the stunning West Coast of Ireland where seaweed abounds in both species and quantity and I hope to be able to share this new found knowledge with the rest of the partners.


Eileen leads the workshop

Eileen leads the workshop

When visiting the coast to forage one can feel a sense of magic take over. Looking from afar your view is of the waves lapping the shore but when you get up close as a forager you see the amazing world of creatures feeding from and existing within the seaweeds in this beautiful exotic ecosystem.

all at sea

The health benefits of seaweeds are tenfold. They are packed with nutrients, vitamins and trace elements, many of which are difficult to get from other sources, such as Iodine. They are thought to be high in nutrients and low in calories, good for heart health, good to balance hormone levels, good as a heavy-duty detoxer and a good all around tonic.


On our trip to the coast at Gijon, Asturias with our hosts Sebastian and Lidia we all anticipated finding many species, some similar to Ireland, but we were very unfortunate to only find four species in very small quantities and therefore our bounty was rather small. However what we brought home was a small amount of

Bladder Wrack Seaweed


Sea Lettuce Seaweed


Carrigeen Moss Seaweed


Pelvetia Sea Spaghetti Seaweed

Fucus vesiculous, Sea Lettuce Ulva lactuca, Carrigeen Moss Chondrus crispus and what we think was a species called Pelvetia. These were made the most of in our evening meal the following day after the forest forage. Chef’s Sam and Andres made a delicious Lavar Bread with a selection of the seaweeds and a mixed seaweed salad so we felt that we had made a connection from the coast to our plates. We also had delicious Kelp crisps made in the kitchen from dried Kelp that I had brought from home which I had foraged a few days before leaving for Spain.


I suppose the main message we took from our foraging trip is that seaweed is an accessible, versatile food that has a place in almost every diet!



The Lost Art of Eating well

Irish Workshop with Fionnuala Collins

THE LOST ART OF “EATING WELL”.- “You are what you eat…. You are how you eat…”

It has often been said that you are what you eat, meaning that your health and well being depends entirely on what you put into your body. It is obvious that the quality of cells depends on the quality of the building blocks that we give those cells so we know that to grow and to heal we need to be careful to eat well. Food is medicine after all.

BUT, do we also know that how we eat (and maybe even why we eat) also may have an effect on our well being? So even if we are eating the best and most nutritious food available, if we are stressed or emotional, we may block the potential healing effects of the food….

An exploratory workshop was held in Spain and the details will be spared for now as it is worth repeating with all partners with some modifications but worth sharing is the intellectual “fruits” or learning that came of the workshop.

We have lost the ability to chose food wisely

We have lost the ability to chose food wisely

Food word cloud

Food word cloud

Food in the overfed west is no longer a thing for survival but has come to be associated with security, with abundance, with love, with decadence, with creativity, daring, with the need to impress and be impressed. Aside from the ethical arguments of what we should eat, the act of sharing meals together can conjure up all kinds of feelings of safety and security and even a sense of place in the world.

Some people want to be left “full” after a meal, more than satisfied, to a point of saturated decadence. Some wish to be left feeling light, as if food is functional. Some wish for a guilt free plate of food and some are motivated by the need to feel textures and tastes that induce pure pleasure. Some people eat for the pure experience of eating-without any consideration for the purpose of food.

Why do we eat?

Why do we eat?

We eat with our eyes but also our other senses, with smell, taste and feeling.

BUT  sometimes we eat without any sense at all-emotional eaters wolf down food to stuff down feelings that are uncomfortable. Does the way we eat when stressed create a bad relationship with food, using food as a drug.

 Knowing how to eat has become a lost art-never mind what we should eat: to explore our relationship with food as part of the jigsaw. When we eat from hunger, we start the process of correcting our relationship with food-and we give the body fuel at the right time-so the saliva needed to process food has a chance to build up.

When we eat at any other time or for other reasons, food can become a burden and a toxin, as our bodies struggle to cope and break down unwanted and unnecessary goods-we are dumping on ourselves-literally.

So do we know how to eat? Can we remember us overfed citizens of the West having a good relationship with food? I asked my soon to be 95 year old healthy grandmother about what and how to eat and she gave me three tips to a long and healthy life…

  1. Eat when hungry
  2. Eat simply (not too much variety)
  3. Enjoy your food but not too much!

Wise words indeed from one who never had to give too much thought to what food to have on her plate-quite often she had little or no choice in the matter. So how we eat may be more important than what we eat. And the concept of “eating well” needs to be re-examined from so many perspectives from social eating, ethical foods, the combinations of foods on the plate to the emotional intensity or stress associated with the meal. It is not about a diet but about having a good relationship with, understanding of and appreciation for the food we give to our bodies. If we can do that in good company, we are beginning to eat well. And knowing when to eat and when to stop is entirely another question!

let the food be with you

Food wisdom

Diary of Spanish Trip

Diary of Spanish Irish Visit-20th-24th April 2014


The Irish Group arrived in Santander on Sunday and drove towards the hotel…on the way we got hungry and stopped in Comillas for lunch. It is a beautiful place along the Camino way – where we got a typical Spanish meal and immersed ourselves in the Spanish culture 

Spanish food culture

Spanish food culture

Some of us tried the local fish dishes – Lubina and also a typical paprika and octopus dish and mussels. The salad was fairly typical and would not differ greatly from anything you would find in Ireland-except for the huge asparagus which are not so easily found in our country.  In order to gain perspective on the future of food, the learners went with open minds, to try local immersion in the present reality and local food cultures.

20140420_151550 20140420_155039

On the food trail

On the food trail


When we arrived at the hotel, we were welcomed by the Burch family and Lydia and after a lovely dinner bursting with goodness we shared an opening circle to ground us and orientate us on the learning program.



After a morning check in we discussed our expectations, the process to follow and what we wanted to contribute. We felt ready to start in with our first practical activity.


The programme outline

The programme outline

Tour with Nigel to learn from his experience…

Nigel Burch-legend

Nigel Burch-legend

We took a tour of the hotel garden and learned from Nigel Burch about his particular positive food system, which included hot compost as the most important feature of the garden.

‘God and manure can do a lot but especially manure!’

Feel that hot compost

The garden, of course, takes hands on work and there is no escaping if you want to be responsible for growing your own food, you have to be prepared to get your hands dirty, put your back into it and be constantly alert to changes in your environment.

Nigel often has dirty hands

Nigel often has dirty hands

Above all, you need to be passionate about it. Nigel shared his passion around food creation and working in partnership with nature and available resources. We got a strong sense of his dedication and how a garden is really a full on responsibility and challenging in this region when water can run short at the end of the summer. We also observed the damage inflicted on the orchard by voles who had eaten the roots of the apple trees and killed many of them, this created a lot of discussion around plant immunity and why pests can be invasive, the trees have a shallow root system because of their position on the hill and lack of soil and perhaps the expression ‘a sick dog is all fleas’ might account for their susceptibility to pests. It was hard for some of the group, being animal lovers, not to pet or interact with the dog, who has her specific role on the farm protecting the sheep, but there were good and practical reasons for this which had to be respected.

We went straight from the garden tour to a picnic in the park near Gijon, where we were going to undertake our afternoon forage led by Eileen, (see article by Eileen.)

In the park we filmed some of our conversations around what we eat and why, it is very apparent that the group have a diverse range of views on sustainable food diets and we don’t have a single vision or answer.

Different viewpoints

Different viewpoints

After the forage we had our evening meeting discussion around the aims and objectives and the following themes are discussed – what is the future of food about? What are the learning objectives for this week? We are getting a sense on  this journey that we cannot prescribe a diet for others but we can only hope to inspire people by showing positive food systems and a good relationship with food.

We come to the idea that we are finding the common ground through various processes where we step back from being the “knowledge holders” to a more equal role of “learner sharers”.

Traditional education has engrained in us the idea that education is about passing on knowledge but this journey so far is teaching us about sharing our uncertanties and doubts as a means of creating discussion and through this some knowledge may be passed on, but learning journeys are undertaken together. We are standing at a precipice, looking out to an uncertain future, to think we might have the answers is perhaps only showing the depths of our ignorance and sharing ideas might be the only way we can find solace.


We see things differently when we open our eyes

We see things differently when we open our eyes


After the morning check in, mycologist and forester Gionata presents a slideshow and talk on fungi and their fascinating relationships with soil and their communication system through the mycelium network, we are really excited and can’t wait to get out into the woods

(see GionataForage for food in the woods

s presentation)

Given that Spring is a scarce time for mushrooms, the forage is for all edible food and we agree to take back our foraged foods and create a lunch together.

Chef Patricia has given a presentation on raw food and on the recipes as shares some delicious ideas for dressing up greens – see recipe pages. Patricia is a chef who has a keen interest in raw food and her participation in the lunch is keenly anticipated.

Raw Chef Patricia

Raw Chef Patricia

The old mills we encountered in the woods reminded us of a food system in the past reliant on water energy and we ask is the future about learning how to go back to the past…???


This was the first time foraging for many of the participants and there was a great sense of connection with nature as a source of food, healing and energy. It was really an enjoyable walk and a beautiful shared experience – foraging together, then preparing the food together and then feasting on the fruits of our labour together. We took many pictures and there was almost a sense of sacredness for the food, a sense of reverence and pride, and above all other things this has had a most profound impression on what it means to be part of a food community. We would recommend this foraging workshop for fungi and wild plants to all food educators as a way of involving people in a practical way to connect with nature as their food source and with people as their fellow community members.

First time forager Michael who usually farms his food

First time forager Michael who usually farms his food

 It is said that “hunger is a good sauce” and it is true, the immersion in nature brings an anticipation to the meal and a deep sense of respect that is not possible to find in a supermarket forage!


Supermarket forage-lost connection with nature

Supermarket forage-lost connection with nature


After lunch we started on our documentary which is one of the products we agreed on from the outset. We asked all the participants 4 questions

What is food?

Where does it come from?

Where is it going?

What will you take away from this experience?

This took quite some time and led us into our 4.30 skype call with the other partners of the project, unfortunately the line was bad and we couldn’t proceed with the call. We were disappointed not to have met the partners and introduced ourselves so we made a mini introductory video to send to them when the line would be restored.


After dinner we had more discussion and it became apparent that the scope of the project could be so wide as to be overwhelming when you look at the scale of the problems facing the world with climate change, food security, food corruption and negative food systems, as Alastair Macintosh –who wrote “Soil and Soul- People vs Corporate Power” wrote this ‘Sometimes when you have nothing else to draw on you have to trade on humour. That establishes a bottom line of existence. You can move onto somewhere else from there.’

Some of the group considered a possible solution to stay positive is to introduce playing and through this came the idea to try out “ Food Mimes” – wherein groups take turns to mime out recipes/dishes/food products and the others have to guess what they are acting out. This had the effect of adding humour to the project in a structured (!) but non formal way and creating a possible project product that could be taken to schools or youth groups when “educating” people about food – a type of food theatre that makes people really think and making people think is a very good objective for this project. Please take the time to view “ scrambled eggs “ and try the game with your friends. It also made us consider the thoughtless violence we inflict on our foods from Genetic modification to the scrambling of eggs



We think about food more deeply

We think about food more deeply


The day started with a check in and as part of the days workshop, playing the game once again for the entire group, as some had been missing the previous evening. We discussed the products and actions to come from our time together and all undertook specific practical tasks from starting to edit our documentary to recording recipes and this blog. We agree to disagree in so far as we cannot prescribe solutions for sustainable living but we can point to fun ways of sharing, learning and inspiring others. We are conscious that we wish to share our learning with the other partners and a wider audience and we hope what we wish to share will be acceptable -being conscious of diverse viewpoints and stand points, again we remind ourselves that there is common ground, common concerns and we should not get caught up in trying to have the answers. It is more important to be the change you want to see in the world as Ghandi said-sometimes we waste energy trying to persuade others what they should be doing or caring about and then we can get frustrated and disappointed when they will not change or see things from our perspective.

We are all blinded by our cultural associations with food

We are all blinded by our cultural associations with food


Some of the group feel overwhelmed as the energy is very intense given the passion for sharing ideas and the scale of the task ahead to live and eat well on a fragile earth. There are so many ideas and it is easy to feel despondent, overwhelmed, lost. Discussions go into great depth about eco-systems, mono cultures, food subcultures, food corporations. We wrestle with the idea that plants are more important to life on earth that animals are-as the primary producers-and nature lovers must choose the right battles… We find a useful quote to help us see where we are in this journey from Alastair Macintosh – “we’re all implicated in the state of the world but we need not remain trapped by this. We need not remain powerless. We may not be able to change, but we can at least work on the Zen of personal integrity and we can start with choices……..As activists or potential activists for social and ecological justice, as women and men who would build community, we must not despair to the point of incapacitation at the state of the world’

 For us today that means we focus on what we can give here and now to the future of food, to the future of the planet (on the tiny island we occupy on the planet) and our little corners of humanity, we start now with each other, we decide we will get active and productive, we will create our food community as an act of liberation. There is a resolve to create something positive from this time together to continue with the FOF journey as an act of both personal food liberation and  integrity coupled with the need to be inclusive, to integrate with what is-so step one is to start a small holders market weekly on our return to Ireland-to bring local organic food from our gardens to the local town-to share what we have-not for the love of money but for the love of community!



The afternoon has a workshop which is split into 2 parts-“You are what you eat, you are how you eat” which explores in a personal way how we relate to food. There is a separate article on the findings from this from Fionnuala  which goes into the subject more deeply.

A final group council is closed with a session led by Sebastian which is a chance to hear back from everybody in a respectful space. This is a very moving experience as the week has been a blast of energy and this provides a still point before we journey home and let the learnings and insights settle before sharing with the wider group and FOF foodies!

Closing circle

Closing circle

Foragers Journey through Spanish woods



On our trip to Spain, we were taken out by micologist and forester Gionata Spazzi who here gives us an account of our findings…

We see things differently when we open our eyes

We see things differently when we open our eyes

Phallus inpudicus

The day was blessed by the finest spring sunshine. After a slide show introduction on the secretive and surprising world of forest fungi at breakfast table we set off guided by Seb and Lydia down by the river walk. Here  a fragment of ancient Asturian  Forest still thrives. The fungi forager would hope to find here at this time of the year morels  and oyster mushrooms. It looked promising for oyster mushrooms as we spotted a number of fallen poplar trees. Oyster mushroom is a saprophytic species which decomposes freshly fallen trees and has a liking for poplar and willow. But it was not to be .We still found a good healthy selection of spring species of fungi such as


Pluteus cervinus,

Trametes versicolor

, Phallus inpudicus, Poliporus squamosus, Ganoderma applanatum none which of culinary interest.


Ganoderma applanatum

Pluteus cervinus

Our foraging attention turned quickly to an abundance of wild herbs at their best and most tender stage for picking:


Forage for food in the woods

Forage for food in the woods

Wild garlic, dandelion, wild aniseed, wild fennel, greater plantain, nettle, chickweed, nasturtium.


With  baskets full of wild herbs we meandered out of the river woodland through lush farm fields and old farm buildings. Back at Posada del Valle, energised  and inspired by the walk  a group of us volunteered as chefs team  to transform our natures gift into a culinary treasure. The result was a most enjoyable tasty and refreshing meal which included a taste of the sea from the previous day sea forage.


Wild garlic pesto

Wild garlic pesto

-wild herbs soufflé: light and full of flavour

-wild garlic pesto: rich and nourishing

-a dandelion, wild fennel and garden letforaged mealtuce fresh salad with seaweed crisps…..

rare find

rare find




We are all looking forward to continue sharing the wild feast harvest experience (and much more) with our German, Dutch, Spanish and Hungarian Future of Food partners during our return autumn meeting in Ireland for a taste of our clean ocean, lush meadows and thriving green forests




Irish Spanish Learning exchange


The pilgrimage to find the source of living food

The pilgrimage to find the source of living food

20140423_142513The Irish partners and learners visited the Spanish project over the Easter break of 2014.

What was the outcome of this exchange?


For a blog with photographs of each workshop please click on this link.

Go to the Growing & Collecting section to read about the seaweed and wild food/fungi forays.

A “Future of food” documentary was started-progress is underway with editing.

Discover the learning outcomes from each workshop here.


Food for thought


Over December 2013 and January 2014, the author of this article underwent 2 extreme approaches to eating. One was the providence diet-to go with the flow and eat and drink everything offered over the month of December. The other approach was to attempt a 10 day juice fast starting on the 19th January. The article starts 3 days into the fasting process.

Food for thought
I have been thinking deeply about food this week, mainly because it is 3 days since I last ate. I am on a “juice fast” although strictly speaking it is not a fast as I am consuming litres and litres of freshly pressed juices (a true fast consists of water with nothing else).

Juicing tips

I am feeling hungry all the time. And for the first time in my life I am experiencing “food envy” every time I sit next to anybody who is eating. I keep staring at their plate-everything looks so appetising and I am thinking that they do not realise how lucky and privileged they are to be able to eat …how many in our world can not just sit and eat without giving the food a second thought? As I watch my 3 daughters tuck into plates of food I think they are lucky and spoilt in a global context. They take it all for granted-no worries about enough or where it came from or who made that food get onto that plate. In the west we are constantly fed news on the media of the obesity epidemic-we are overeating (and over consuming resources) whilst there are parts of the world suffering from malnutrition. As a human family we are not being fair with the distribution of our planets resources, some are fat and over fed, some are hungry and under fed. Who is responsible? Do all westerners share a part responsibility for this injustice as we collectively sit back and let others decide on how resources should be distributed? Anyway that’s my little global justice rant over.
For this juice experiment, I am really for the first time in my life feeling ongoing hunger and it is not a usual sensation in my body. I am not comfortable, it is actually a very unpleasant sensation, because it does not really ever go away, even after taking juices. I do not have that familiar “full” or “satisfied” feeling and I am afraid that I feel somehow cheated of pleasure-even though this is my choice, I somehow expected it to be different. For a start, I have had only mild withdrawal symptoms. I was looking forward to a big ass- kicking withdrawal headache-I could then have said “Ah my body is now re-adjusting to clean living and I am paying for my over consumption crimes!” But I had just a mild ache, nothing extreme to write about and I now doubt this fast is really going to “whip me into shape” and purify me after the indulgence called December. Even though I am not a coffee drinker, I just love my first cup of tea everyday so in should i be mildly comforted by the thought that when I drink tea again, I will not be giving my body anything too harsh to handle?
The word “Diet” comes from the Greek “Dieta” meaning to direct one’s life. Over December, I did the opposite of diet- as I consumed everything I was offered and even second helpings if they were offered. Mince pies, mulled wine, hot port, local free range turkey, sweets and all manor of treats- i graciously accepted providence-whatever my environment in modern Ireland would provide-from whatever source-neighbours, friends, family, the local community-generous offerings from every corner. The tradition of feasting over this time of year goes back to pagan Ireland-when at the end of winter people went about about storing up fat for colder days ahead, to give energy in Spring when the first seeds are sown. The end of winter is such a dark time and indulging is such a good idea to see the body through to brighter days. The results of my feasting? I started this year a full 7lbs heavier (3 plus kilos). That would not be unusual for me as December is a relaxed time of year when hibernating and storing up fat is a family friendly plan! January started with resolutions-no more sugar and by the time I start my juice fast on 19th January, I have shed about half of my December excess. I am also training for a half marathon and running is back on track so I am feeling good going into this-with no health issues. We ordered the Omega 3 Juicer to press the juices out of vegetables and fruit as opposed to liquidising them so we are really excited to see if we get a boost of energy from this way of working with foods. I have found these last 3 nights I am asleep by 9pm at night and I am waking up fresh and ready for the day by 5am. I get up and I feel light-a good feeling -so I decide to start doing a headstand as well every morning more because I want to make the most of this time by introducing other health enhancing techniques. In for a penny in for a pound! I have read that this kind of juice fasting should be accompanied by coffee enemas but I decide not to do this- in between juices and on an empty stomach i am taking pre-soaked linseeds to keep everything moving and it is doing the trick!
Day 4-The man in the local vegetable shop says “you again-you can’t have eaten all that!” So I tell him what I am doing and he thinks I am crazy. He throws in some free bananas for being such a good customer-I am spending about €25 every 2 days on fruit and vegetables and I am grazing our garden every morning for Kale, celery and fennel. I feel like a deer, getting up really early and waiting until its light enough to see what food is growing and harvesting it before the humans wake up. I am hungry and looking afresh at my garden as a place where good green nutrients grow. My mouth is really watering when I am choosing the most succulent looking greens and I am discovering what it is to really bring an appetite to the day. We have a stock of beetroots left over and we have a good cheap supply of organic carrots- the staple food on this fast- I have consumed 10 kilos of carrots in 5 days. I am sick of carrots.

Day 5. The day starts well, doing my grazing and headstands and all the usual new juicing routines but by 5pm all I can say, think or do is …..Arghhhhhhh! I can not go on….
On the positive side I am sleeping less and waking earlier but against that I am fed up with this way of consuming nutrients. I ran earlier today with very little energy, I could hardly keep up with the usual pace. I now feel so negative about this experiment that I doubt whether the benefits will outweigh the negatives associated with a winter juice fast. The run was a struggle and I felt so cold afterwards. Each day i am finding it harder and harder to keep warm. I am drinking litres of ginger tea but there is a constant cold feeling in all of my bones and I am shivery. My partner says I am hunching up and I am-in a vague attempt to heat my bones or keep the cold from entering through the shoulders!!! I stare at my mix of beetroot, carrot and garden kale juice for over an hour. I literally can not face putting it to my lips-the thought s of drinking this intense sweet cold juice has made me feel nauseous. I can not bear the thoughts of it. I am huddled over the fire and my husband offers me some warm soup and I agree to it feeling like a bit of a failure.. The bowl of warmth fills every cell and I decide that I will finish out the fast by adding in a warm soup every day. As soon as I have taken the soup I feel immediately better-warm food in winter-what a good idea! The juice feasting ebook I have read does not recommend this as it may confuse the body but my body is not feeling confused but delighted that I have given in to some warm soup. The next 5 days I finish the fast with a warm soup daily. I completed 5 days juice fast and a further 5 days half and half-2 juice meals and one cooked meal a day. I think it is a happy compromise given that it is winter and I am not used to so much cold liquid, even in Summer.
I have lost a total of 6lb (just under 3 kilos) in 10 days. I feel ok-not buzzing with energy and I developed a cold sore-which I only ever get when I am run down. I think that this kind of eating suits warm climates or seasons and it is for people who are conserving energy-not training for a half marathon! I think that in spite of all the fresh greens, I am lacking essential nutrients for energy. One person told me that I looked pale whilst fruiting but nobody else seemed to notice. I do feel lighter and this is a cleansing programme, but I was unwise to cleanse when I have a training schedule to go through which requires more not less nutrients!

So what do I think about food now? My relationship with food has changed. I am conscious now of feeling full sooner-I think this has been good for me. I do not need to consume as much. I would do this in the Summer time when I can find more in the garden and it will not be as expensive. This is not a diet that low income Irish families could undertake in winter in Ireland and as I am keen to find a sustainable and affordable eating plan, juice fasting is not the way to go- it is not sustainable as it depends on too many imported foods-maybe it could be good for a summer diet as a way to use up extra produce when the garden is in full swing. Having said that my children now enjoy daily juiced carrots with apples and look forward to them so it is a good supplement to meals-perhaps taken first thing on an empty stomach. If you are looking to lose weight and want to survive on less sleep, this is a good diet. I had a very clear understanding of the relationship of digestion and sleep- the light diet made the body require less time unconscious and I think that sleep is about body repair. I woke up every day very early with no tired feeling. Is this diet healthy? That depends on your lifestyle and energy requirements. I need a little more fat and fibre to feel fit!