The NeighbourFood Podcast


Food Waste is NOT Waste with Virginia O’Gara of CUSP

“Food waste shouldn't be waste. The way we see it is a resource that is full of nutrients and it should be kept here for us to make it into something usable.” And that’s what CUSP, the Cork Urban Soil Project is all about. It is a living laboratory for a strong, environmentally driven community made up of friends, creatives, workers and supporters and a small aerobic bio-digester. 

So today, we are chatting to Virginia O’Gara, who along with her husband Donal are My Goodness, the much-loved raw vegan food company based in Cork city, whose business are the founders and partners of this project.

And what the team are hoping to do here is completely close the loop by composting all of their waste, turning it into healthy nutritious soil and build a small urban micro farm right between My Goodness HQ and the Marina Market, which for anyone who is familiar with this site, might think it’s an impossibility. It’s located on a dark, very steep slope in the Marina Commercial Park, which is grounds of the old Dunlop’s factory. Sure it’ll never work!

So this is a story of hope, it’s a story of community. It's the story of the challenge this group of ecologically driven people are taking up. A group who genuinely believe that it is always the right thing to challenge the status quo, to rethink the fate of waste and prove to us all that there is a healthier, ethical and more sustainable way to live. 

In this conversation with Virginia we talk about her rebel upbringing in Texas, her time in the Americas, her pilgrimage to permaculture, the hilarious suspiciousness people have about veganism and her motivations for a plant based diet. But ultimately, we are talking here about a great big circle which brings us back to the importance of soil health, eliminating food waste and the motivation behind the Cork Urban Soil project. 

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Potato Potato - Ireland's love affair with the humble spud (replay)

This week, we decided to revisit a classic episode from the NeighbourFood podcast archives. As you may have heard, the World Potato Congress that was recently hosted in Dublin, we felt this was a topical and fun episode and a fun look at Ireland’s love affair with the humble spud.Throughout this episode we have with lots of contributors who tell us why this is.We speak to food writer John McKenna of McKenna's Guides about Ireland’s romantic connection to the food that let us down in our past and yet how we return time and time again, like a faithless lover to the spud we love so well.Did you know the process of flavouring crisps was invented here in Ireland? That’s right and Tayto Crisps are responsible for the world-famous cheese and onion flavour! We tracked down Peter Murphy, son of Joe “Spud” Murphy, the founder of Tayto who told us about his entrepreneurial dad, his Peter Pan existence and that Ah-Ha moment when they stumbled across the much-loved Cheese and Onion flavour combination.There are small farmers throughout the country growing potatoes for their local market. We speak to Maria Flynn of Ballymackenny Farm Potatoes who taking over the family farm, realised they were never going to survive on glowing Roosters and Queens alone. So they took a chance on growing heritage and heirloom speciality potatoes and targeting chefs with their more unusual produce. When the pandemic hit, they lost 100% of their customers overnight, so we hear their story of survival.Now, do you think it’s possible to live on Potatoes alone? We find a man in India who claims to do just that. The Aloo Baba lives in the mountains in Pushkar, India and eats 10kg potatoes a day!!!! That’s some feat, but he claims it keeps him young and gives him clarity. Vikrant Naidu, chef at The Lodge, Myrtleville, Cork steps in to translate and also gives us an insight into the culture of potatoes in his home county of India.And finally, potatoes are far more than a carbohydrate on our plate, they also make an interesting ingredient in spirits, such as Poitin. Michael O’Boyle of Baoilleach Distillery in Donegal explains why spuds were sometimes used in the mashbill of poitín makers back in the day and when he chooses to continue this tradition in his own poitin collection “Mulroy Bay”.Enjoy this spudcast full of poppy love.