New curriculum-linked book that uses poetry and illustrations to simplify the science of sustainable Irish farming and food nutrients to be made available to every primary school in Ireland

  • Irish Food, From A-Z’ is aimed at educating 4-12 year olds about Irish farming, food, culture and health
  • Minister Simon Coveney welcomes new educational resource written by Dr. Vanessa Woods, founder and Chief Executive of Ireland’s first Science Communications Consultancy

A new book for primary school children that uses poetry to help simplify the science behind Irish farming and food for health and wellbeing, will be made available to every primary school and teacher training college in Ireland next week (w/c 23 November). Teachers will also be able to register for a webinar with the author of the book – Dr. Vanessa Woods – who will discuss the content and explain how it is ready to use in the classroom, being linked with the SESE curriculum.

Irish Food, From A-Z’ is written through the medium of poetry, accompanied by colourful illustrations. While the book is primarily aimed at children aged 4-12 via this particular schools project, it is also targeted at adults. The science-based and curriculum-linked educational resource is presented in a way that is accessible and engaging for children and covers a wide range of topics such as food nutrients, sustainability, traceability, soil health, grass-fed Irish food, greenhouse gases and carbon sequestration, biodiversity, the importance of a balanced diet, dental health, farm safety and Irish culture.

The book has been written by Dr. Vanessa Woods, a scientist and consumer engagement professional who is focused on informing and educating Irish consumers of all ages about the story of sustainable and nutritious food grown by Irish farmers, underpinned by world-class science, and the importance of collaboration right across the food value chain.

Commenting on the launch of ‘Irish Food, From A-Z’, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence Simon Coveney said: “This engaging and informative curriculum-linked book provides students with fantastic insights into where the food we eat comes from and the importance of the nutrients in our food for our health and wellbeing. Ireland’s rich tradition and culture of farming and food production is underpinned by world-class scientific research and it deserves to be more widely understood. ‘Irish Food, From A – Z’ will make an excellent resource for teachers and young students across the country.”

From Athboy, Co. Meath, Vanessa grew up on a farm and has a passion for the land and marrying the science of farming, food and health. She holds a BSc in Microbiology from NUI Galway and a PhD from University College Dublin. She has also served as CEO of Agri Aware, the independent agri-food educational body, and works with the European Commission as an evaluator of EU Horizon 2020 funding proposals. In 2018, she founded Vanessa B. Woods Communications, Ireland’s first science communications consultancy, with a company mission statement to ‘communicate complex science simply’.

Vanessa says she wrote ‘Irish Food, From A-Z’ to help encourage science-based discussion on food nutrients, healthy eating and the green climate agenda in primary schools and homes across the country: “Irish farming families have been farming for generations, working in harmony with nature, as custodians of the landscape for future generations. Our farmers grow quality, safe, traceable, sustainable and nutrient-dense Irish food at an affordable price for consumers.”

“The work of Irish farmers is underpinned by world-class science as they seek to become more sustainable. However, not everybody is aware of this science and we have a duty to find better ways to lead consumers to knowledge. Irish Food, From A-Z is the first step in delivering science-based messages to children, their teachers and parents by telling the story of sustainable and nutritious Irish food and its importance for good dental health, human health and wellbeing, via poetry.”

Irish Food, From A-Z’ will be delivered to school principals in over 3,200 primary schools and to teacher training colleges across Ireland next week with the support of Lead Partner: FBD Insurance; Major Partners: Agri Aware, Deansgrange Dental Clinic, Laboratory Supplies Ltd. T/A Lennox, Monaghan, Thornton & Co. Accountants; Key Partners: Country Crest, FRS Network, ICBF, Irish Farmers Association, Irish Holstein Friesian Association, Keelings, Kepak Group, Liffey Meats, Margaret’s Eggs, Slaney Foods; and Partners: Drummonds Feed, Seeds & Grain Merchants and Lely Atlantic.

Commenting on the launch of this new educational resource for students, their teachers and parents, Michael Berkery, Chairman, FBD Trust and lead partner in this project, congratulated Dr. Vanessa Woods on her publication of ‘Irish Food, From A-Z’, saying: “Throughout her career, Dr. Woods is renowned for her contribution to scientific advancement, knowledge and learning. She is also a skilled communicator and has combined both those abilities to produce this highly attractive curriculum-linked resource for primary schools.”

“Understanding the importance of nutrients in our food is one of the most valuable life-long skills children can learn in the classroom and key to healthy and sustainable living. ‘Irish Food, From A-Z’ is packed with easily understood nutritional knowledge and scientific explanations and evidence for the provenance of Irish food and the sustainable environment in which it is produced. This modern and attractively illustrated book will open a window on food through education that has societal benefits as well as fun and stimulation for students.”