Buying imported food 'traitorous'


Buying imported food in a multinational supermarket has been described as a "traitorous" act in the latest edition of the Bridgestone Irish Food Guide.

In the introduction to the 9th edition of the guide, which was launched today, co-author John McKenna said Ireland had been "economically colonised".

He described the relationship between multinational supermarkets and farmers as one of "master and slave".

He said the supermarkets chains were "harlots of the age" whom the Government had allowed to exercise "unprecedented power".

"Mary Couglan and Brendan Smith have got to show that they are on the farmer's side. They cannot do the same thing with agriculture as they did with financial markets," he said at the launch yesterday.

However Irish restaurateurs and artisan producers are bucking the economic trend as many have had their best ever year in business, Mr McKenna said.

While customers still want to eat out what they are looking for has changed, he said.

"There is still plenty of money out there but there is carefulness in the market and value is no longer about price,” he said. "People want the good stuff they know and only want to spend their money on the good stuff".

He said this is a change from the boom when people would go to the latest celebrity chef restaurant. "They are going back to the tried, tested and trusted and these are the people that are flourishing" he said.

Mr McKenna said it is "facsimile" restaurants which have closed, "where the developer built a hotel, got an operator in to run a restaurant who said if Derry Clarke can charge €35 for a main course so can I."

Pub businesses were doing badly because the customer is discerning and the pubs are not offering service, he said.

With 1,500 entries, the guide has some 300 more recommendation than the 2007 edition. Mr McKenna noted a sharp increase in entries in counties which previously did not have a great reputation for food such as Mayo, Leitrim and Louth.

Some of Mr McKenna's "stand out" entries from the guide are:

- Aroma Coffee Shop, Donegal: "Tom and Arturo's restaurant is on an unstoppable roll and why wouldn't it be when the President herself, Mrs McAleese, is one of its cheerleaders"

- Gregan's Castle Hotel, Ballyvaughan, Co Clare:  "One of Europe's leading places to stay and eat"

- Campagne Restaurant, Kilkenny "Dazzling food in a dazzling room"