Michael Kelly GIY talks to artist and grower Lisa Fingleton about the 30 Day Local Food Challenge as part of the Food Matters series on RTE. Michael visits Lisa’s studio at The Barna Way and shares a freshly picked lunch from the garden.

Michael Kelly travels across to country to learn about Ireland’s food sustainability, and explores how the food system is a major contributor to the climate change emergency. Fortunately, there are inspiring solutions to the problems in our food system happening here in Ireland.  Mick Kelly travels around Ireland to explore food sustainability and meet the people and projects that are helping to change the food system one meal at a time.

Episode 2:

“In this episode we’re all about following the seasons.  If we truly want to make a difference this is one area we need to improve on – eating food when it’s at it freshest is fundamental, the less we rely on out of season imports the more we can grow and achieve locally. This is at the heart of food sustainability.

In this episode Mick is starting in Cork to talk to Regina Sexton, food writer and researcher about the history of food here in Ireland and how we once managed to follow the seasons pre famine and make the best use of food during the hungry gap; before taking a trip to Dublin to meet lecturer Dr. Máirtín Mac Con Ionmaire who was awarded Ireland’s first PhD in food history.

Next we’re heading to the world-renowned cookery school of Ballymaloe to chat to chef and food lecturer Rory O’Connell about the importance of eating seasonally when it comes to chefs, their food and cooking. Then we land back in Waterford to GROW HQ where according to the head chef JB Dubois if it’s not in season and available fresh in the HQ gardens ….. it’s not on the menu. Mick and JB sit down to enjoy a really seasonal delicious meal.

Next on our journey we look at the economics of seasonality with economist and Waterford native Jim Power and we also look at the impact marketing has on people’s perception on seasonality with TUD Lecturer Damian O’Reilly. To finish the episode Mick heads to Kerry to talk to Lisa Fingleton about a very interesting challenge based around seasonal and local food called the 30-day food challenge, where Lisa can only eat ingredients that come from Ireland.

Practical Steps you can take

  • Get curious about when the things you like to eat are in season in Ireland, or whether they can be grown in Ireland at all? Having an understanding of what’s in season, can be the best weapon for us as consumers of food.
  • Experiment – try eating the same food in season and out of season. For example taste a tomato from Ireland during the summer and try an imported one during th winter – what do you notice about the taste of each?  Do they taste different?
  • Would you consider the 30 Day Local Food challenge, eating only food produced on the island of Ireland for a month? If you do it, what ingredients surprised you?  Chocolate, tea, coffee etc?
  • Grow food yourself – the best way to understand seasonality is to grow food yourself. One of the biggest components of ‘food empathy’ is the knowledge that you acquire about seasonality.
  • Buy local and seasonal food – supermarkets and growers have extended the seasons on so many products and imports are available year-round but what’s key to all of this is if its local, fresh and available then it’s in season.


Find out more about eating local in Lisa’s book: The Local Food Project

Lisa-Fingleton-Artist-_-Mick-Kelly_-Food-Matters-2023-The Barna Way