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Minister Cuffe opens Portumna Forest Picnic at start of National Organic Week

With local organic produce on offer, the Portumna Forest Picnic was "an opportunity to enjoy the very best of Irish food," the Minister for Sustainable Transport, Horticulture and Planning, Ciarán Cuffe TD, said as he launched the event today (Sunday 12th).  The Picnic was held in Portumna Forest Park, Co Galway, to mark the start of National Organic Week.

"Organic food is food produced in the most natural way possible," Minister Cuffe said.  "Organic farmers use no chemical fertilisers or pesticides. Organic food is 100% GM-free.  Organic farmers follow the highest standards for animal welfare. Even if sometimes the food seems a little more expensive, I believe that you get value for money."

The Minister went on to point out that organic farming is completely sustainable. "We are facing great challenges in the form of climate change and the increasingly limited availability of oil," he said. "We have to make our food production systems more resilient, and against those challenges organic farming methods are the most resilient of all."

Minister Cuffe paid tribute to the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers' Association (ICSA), one of the hosts at the event, for what he called their "enlightened and forward-looking approach to organics".  He said it was encouraging that ICSA, as one of the main farming organisations, took such a position in the light of the real business opportunities for Irish farmers in the organic sector.

The Portumna Forest Picnic was supported by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and hosted ICSA, the Irish Organic Farmers' and Growers' Association (IOFGA) and Slowfood. As well as offering organic food, with an emphasis on local produce, the event included nature walks, face painting, a mobile animal farm for young children and talks on a wide variety of topics including fish smoking, bee keeping, farm diversity and cheese making.

Date Released: 12 September 2010