Op-Food - John McKenna

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Galway’s Food on the Edge festival was enough to make you weep.
Over 2 days, a theatre packed full of people heard declarations of essential human rights, calls for equality and fairness, demands for changes in working conditions. We heard inspirational speeches about income inequality and the lack of opportunity afforded to those from poor backgrounds. There were passionate talks about culture, and respect, and denunciations of farming systems that rely on the poison that is glyphosate. We heard calls to action to make the world a better place and, when it was all over, we left exhilarated.
And there was not a single politician in the theatre in Galway’s Town Hall Theatre.
Not one. No one from any political party. Not a cabinet minister. Not a junior Minister. Not even a local T.D.
Not one.
And therein lies the explanation for the collapse in confidence in our political system. Our politicians avoid any zone or place where people discuss political philosophy, ethics, civics, social action, and the concept of equality.
So, who did the thinking and philosophising at Food on the Edge? Chefs.
Chefs, from all around the world. People who earn their living working with food came together, and hardly any of them talked about food. Instead, they talked about fatherhood, about agriculture, about ethics, and imagination.
“Farm your food and your thoughts”, said Magnus Ek, from Stockholm. “Fight the good fight, and make it delicious”, said Mark Best from Australia. “Waste is a failure of the imagination”, said Douglas McMaster from Brighton. “Food is a tool to make the world a better place”, said Blessing Siphathisiwe Moyo from Zimbabwe. “Cooking is an act of love, and a call to action. No more excuses”, said Massimo Bottura, from Modena.
It would have been good, and it would have been respectful, if there had been an Irish politician to hear these great thinkers. But there wasn’t.
But that’s ok, because we don’t need politicians. But we do need chefs.

Food on the Edge 2017 will take place on Monday 9th and Tuesday 10th October, 2017 .www.foodontheedge.ie