Chef Tadgh Byrne, hailing from Co. Wicklow, is on the verge of completing a groundbreaking film that delves into the future of food in Ireland. The film, which boasts contributions from key figures in the Irish food industry, aims to explore how Ireland can transition towards a more sustainable food system. Tadgh, who owns a contract catering company operating along the east coast, drew inspiration for the film from his observations of the nation’s eating habits. He noted that the Irish population is increasingly consuming highly processed foods, leading to a detachment from the origins of their meals and a rise in obesity rates.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, Tadgh witnessed a shift in this trend as people began to show a renewed interest in consuming locally sourced Irish food. He noticed an “acceleration” of interest and a desire to make more informed choices. However, he also acknowledged the confusion caused by conflicting diets and information, stating, “I feel like everybody wants to do the right thing but nobody knows what the right thing is.” The film aims to provide clarity on this issue and shed light on the challenges faced by the industry.
Tadgh has had a long-standing fascination with agri-food, dating back to his early years. He spent some time living in Co. Wexford, where he worked on barley and sugar beet farms, as well as picking strawberries. The film will feature representatives from farming lobby groups, along with experts and research groups in agriculture. It will examine the government’s agri-food plan until 2025 and explore the upcoming plan’s potential components. Tadgh is also keen to hear directly from farmers involved in horticulture, beef, dairy, or any other sector. He aims to provide a balanced perspective by including voices from all areas, emphasizing, “We don’t want to demonize any industries.”
The documentary will also feature interviews with chefs and explore the concept of “robot chefs” and drone food deliveries. Politicians have been approached for potential participation in the film as well. With just a month of filming remaining, Tadgh and director Max Barry are actively seeking volunteers to contribute to the project. Max Barry emphasized the importance of highlighting how the uncertainties caused by supply issues, inflation, climate change, and war in Europe impact food production, processing, marketing, and consumption. The film is set to premiere in Dublin in December 2023.
Tadgh believes that this film is only the beginning of the research into the future of food. He anticipates that in 30 years, people will look back and reflect on the predictions made in this film, pondering whether they materialized. He added, “It will be interesting to look back in 30 years and think well this is what people thought the future of food would look like and did it happen?” The trailer for the upcoming film is now available on YouTube, generating excitement and anticipation among viewers.