I just checked and Keogh’s crisps and Wicklow Wolf beer are within our 50km,” my husband says looking up from his phone.
“Well we won’t go hungry or thirsty so,” I reply.
When we in Irish Country Living decided that we as a team would each dedicate one week to eating within our 50km, I have to admit I was worried.
Unlike the rest of the girls, I live near Dublin city centre. It has its advantages. During lockdown, Stephen’s Green was within my 5km. However, there aren’t too many farms around Terenure, so I was a bit concerned that I would go hungry.
To the butchers
So before I even started searching online, I headed down to the village. We’re really lucky that in Terenure, three food shops have opened in the last year which has added a lovely vibrancy to the village, making it a bit of a food destination.
However, the first stop on my walk was to James Kenny in the Brown Pig, my local butcher who I go to every week.
“James I have a challenge for you,” I declare. “Everything needs to be sourced within 50km.”
“Ah that should be easy,” he replies as he takes pride in sourcing his meat as close as possible.
However, as we walked the shelves, my usual weekly items started to get eliminated very quickly. Turkey and bacon were off the menu as they came from Crowe’s Farm in Tipperary. Paddy Hegarty supplies their lamb and even though he is only in Baltinglass, it was just outside the 50km by 4km. Another local supplier was Wild Irish Game who supply his Venison sausages but at 64km, I also had to wave goodbye to the sausages and mash dinner I had planned. But Margaret McDonald in the Curragh supplies their chicken – 34km, we were in luck.
Bad news on the fish front
Next stop was Saltwater Grocer, our local fish shop which was opened by Niall Sabongi earlier this summer. Dublin Bay prawns, perfect for Saturday night. But that’s all I could get at this time of year.
Amalia Lekkas who worked there was very helpful and explained: “The weather for Irish fishing hasn’t been great and most of the fish is coming from Galway or other parts of Europe.”
Fruit and veg
The best find was their fruit and veg was coming from Gerry Hussey’s farm in north Co Dublin so pumpkins, carrots, broccoli, leeks and beetroot all made their way into my basket. I also purchased some of Ger’s hot honey which is delicious on salads and comes from Malahide.
In Lahoya Green, I also had a great run of vegetables as their cauliflowers, swedes and York cabbages are coming from Mark Taylor in Lusk, their cherry tomatoes are coming from Jim O’Rourke in Swords, parsnips are supplied by Denis Larkin is Rush and their broccoli comes from Colm Leonard in Rush. I also popped into Lotts & Co for some of Pat Clarke’s strawberries.
Fruit and vegetables is where I really won out on this quest. I was also able to get berries from Keeling’s and order more vegetables from McNally’s Family Farm Shop in Balrickard.
I then moved online to find more local producers and came across a great website called dublinfoodchain.ie which has a directory of local food producers. I was able to source beef from Olly’s Farm in the Dublin mountains as well as sausages and rashers from Clonanny Farm in Naul who breed free-range pigs.
The main challenges
Over the course of the week, I had enough variety for dinners and lunches. I kept things simple enough with roast chicken dinners and I made a lovely tomato sauce from my tomatoes. But breakfast was a real challenge. My daughter is nearly two and is a big fan of porridge, we usually opt for Flavahan’s and I also like Granola from the Foods of Athenry. I couldn’t find a good substitute so we had to cheat with that.
Also dairy was a big issue for me. Avonmore source their liquid milk from farmers throughout Meath and Kildare but their production facility in Ballitore in Athy is 54km away. We couldn’t be without milk for the week though and so we had to bend the rules by a few kilometres on this one. The only cheese I could source was Dundrum Village Cheese which is made very close by, but the milk comes from the family farm in Wexford which was outside my 50km. Yoghurts were also a challenge. My daughter loves a yoghurt after her dinner and we usually purchase the Glenilen or Glenisk baby yoghurts. Again, we had to cheat on that one.
Along the way, I also found some producers that are working within my 50km. As over 50% of the ingredients they used were beyond the 50km, they didn’t work for this challenge. However, in my efforts to shop local in the long term, I’ve since purchased Rose Madra pasta which is delicious and made in Dublin. Saltwater Grocers stocks breads and pastries which come from Firehouse Bakery in Delgany as well as Batch Cookies which are made in Ballybough.
I certainly found the week more expensive and there was a bit of travel involved going from shop to shop. However, I actually found a lot more products than I thought I would. What I was really impressed with though was the amount of Irish products that are in my local shops.
I had a bit of a laugh with the local shopkeepers who helped me. They had so much Irish products on their shelves and their frustration as they pulled out their Google maps to check the distance to their suppliers was entertaining. It definitely encouraged me to keep supporting them as they are so proud of their suppliers.