Irish Food Writers Guild notes the importance of Irish food ahead of Brexit

Dunany Farms in Co Louth has won at this year’s Irish Food Writers Guild Awards for their “innovative” work with the ancient grain spelt.

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Dunany Farms, owned and operated by the Workman family in Co Louth, this year took home one of the Food Award prizes for their organic spelt berries, which are actually a type of ancient wheat.

The other Food Award winners for this year were Hegarty Cheese for Teampall Gael Cheese in Co Cork  and Mike Thomson for Young Buck Cheese in Co Down.

In a press release, the IFWG said of Dunany Farms: “While perhaps best known for their flours, the Irish Food Writers’ Guild is awarding their organic spelt berries.”

“The Workmans are always innovative and experimental, yet growing old and traditional varieties of wheat is of particular interest to them.”

“After visiting farms and mills in parts of Europe where spelt is grown extensively, the Workmans recognized a gap in the market for growing spelt in Ireland and invested in the machinery required to process the grains in 2010.”

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What is spelt?

The IFWG describes Dunany Farms organic spelt as "High in fiber and B vitamins, low in gluten and rich in essential fatty acids and amino acids."

"The Dunany organic spelt berries are an interesting, versatile and nutritious Irish-grown wholegrain that makes a great alternative to imported grains."

"This hardy plant grows well in the Irish climate, but it’s very difficult to thresh the seed from the husk and requires specific de-hulling and cleaning machines that prepare the grains to a millable quality for both flour and the berries."

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Irish food and Brexit

Kristen Jensen, chairperson of the IFWG, noted at the annual awards presentation the importance of sustainable Irish food production in the face of Brexit.

“With the food industry gearing up for the impact of Brexit and with the threat of UK tariffs a real possibility, it is incumbent on us all, government, industry and consumers, to protect and support our abundance of incredible food producers, who have played a significant role in helping position Ireland as a food tourism destination.”

Jensen added: “Each year, the IFWG singles out a select number of products and organizations that evoke pride in our national food identity and contribute to our rich and diverse food culture. Many of these are small businesses and, together with everyone in the food industry, they have major concerns over what is coming down the track following Brexit later this month. Therefore, we urge all sectors of society to embrace sourcing, buying and eating local, high-quality produce and ensuring that all our wonderful producers survive and continue to thrive as they face into a period of great uncertainty.”

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“We believe we owe it to them and to ourselves as a great food nation, to continue flying the flag for the fantastic range of Irish produce that is available on our own doorstep.”

The IFWG said they were honoring Irish businesses that “have created sustainable businesses, have continuously looked to innovate and have been singled out because of the outstanding quality of their produce and dedication to Irish food.”

Have you ever had Irish spelt before? Let us know in the comments!