DUBLIN – Bord Bia (Irish Food Board) recently hosted a virtual meeting on farm and food sustainability called “Going Green from Farm to Fork.”

Members of the group included Tara McCarthy, chief executive officer for Bord Bia, and Dan Barber, who is a sustainable food advocate, chef and author.

During the call, McCarthy described how Ireland is responding to issues around sustainability with Origin Green, a national sustainability program that involves the food sector from farmer to producer to retailers. She said all stakeholders share and measure the same target for sustainability.

“We've been tracking consumer choice all the way through COVID, and we had some interesting statistics relating to consumers being more conscious of their diet and of sustainability in their diet,” McCarthy said. “Our research shows the just under 50% of global consumers are looking to purchase more sustainably in these last 12 months and 23% percent of them are prepared to pay more for the products that are more ethically, sustainably produced. They increasingly look for trust and while trust is good, proof is better, and the Grass Fed Standard for beef and dairy that we launched in the last 12 months is a world-first verifiable proof point for our grass-fed cattle.”

Barber explained how all parts of the food industry will benefit by making these sustainability changes with better tasting food.

“The fundamentals of beef, meat and dairy are really about growing great grass and about farmers who are concentrating on the diversity of grass, the health of grass, and the wealth of free energy to feed us,” Barber said. “The sun shines, the grass grows, the grass feeds the animals, and the animals feed us, and that is the definition of sustainability, and that's at the root of what I have now learned about Irish agriculture. We too often neglect to celebrate deliciousness because sustainability and deliciousness are one in the same.” 

Barber said Ireland is providing a model for the world on sustainable food production.

 “The real cost of producing food, in a biological environment, like what we are hearing about with dairy and beef from Ireland, is the future of food and the next trend,” he said.