More farmer protests in Germany as I write. Reduced subsidies and increased taxes put the squeeze on farmers. Meanwhile, at the latest World Economic Forum meetings farmers and fishers are sitting in the same sentence as ecocide. I seriously doubt many of the decision-makers have worked the land themselves to understand what is involved. There is solidarity in protest but selective broadcasting will keep the news off the radar for most possible recipients. Again we are distanced from the source of our sustenance. Despite the phenomenal amount of media we have access to, we have little idea of what actually truly is happening. Fear of contagion possibly justifies a media silence in power circles. Protests though suggest the end of a tether. Like a volcanic eruption, the lava eventually comes to the surface spewing forth the fury. It’s the tsunami afterwards that causes the widespread chaos. Be prepared to get to higher ground folks…
After the celebration season, January is a time of promises to be good. From feasting to fasting! Resolutions and regrets. Must try harder. Why do we do this to ourselves??
Personally, I do like January and the new year full of potential. Visions of a positive future…
Dreaming ahead we continue to take inspiration from Rob Hopkins's book What If as it fires up the imagination of possibilities. Here goes… what if the Limerick Milk Market was open 7 days a week?
What if it thrived with farmers producing locally and finding a viable route to sale? What if there were pop-up stalls of interest that kept people coming back? What if empty buildings became viable places to live so cars weren’t necessary to get your food on the outskirts of the city? What if folk enjoyed meeting each other every day there and each day had a different energy of ideas.. what if the market bustled with life day and evening so that it became a mega tourist attraction and folk considered locating in the city again? What if there were enough local farmers and suppliers to meet the growing demand? What if the market stimulated new artisan ideas and people felt fulfilled that their work was valued? What if it employed a significant group of local people who thrived in the process? What if different food theme days encouraged repeat visits in the week?
Sometimes you just have to imagine what is possible...
Did you know that Glyphosate is a patented antibiotic? When I mention this, the answer I get is “No I didn’t!” From drain cleaner to herbicide the patents for Roundup keep giving. Picture this…if the majority of our food items (let's say wheat and soya) have been contaminated with Roundup, it is not unrealistic to assume our level of antibiotic resistance is significant and growing. Anti life. At the recent Biofarm conference, we listened as a wise farmer tell us he knew something wasn’t right when he stopped seeing the crows following the plough. The soil was not yielding the worms anymore.
A further 10-year licence to use Glyphosate has been granted following intensive lobbying by all powers that be. We are not surprised. From a growing concern about the toxicity and damage this herbicide is linked with, to the corporate desire to keep business going I see echoes of tobacco and sugar wars. Despite the recognition and evidence of damage, corrective action is very slow to take place. If you worked in the business of making or promoting this product would you consider calling a halt to the lifestyle you were used to? It’s a difficult one but realistically it is much easier to stay the same than change even if it is harmful to your individual or community health. We are after all easily persuaded that those that govern and make decisions have our best interests at heart. They couldn’t possibly mean to inflict harm on us…really…
Being an organic grocery of course we are interested in consuming foods that are not contaminated with herbicides and pesticides or GMOs. Glyphosate the main ingredient in “RoundUp” as more readily known is possibly the most commonly used herbicide we are familiar with. A weedkiller also is readily sprayed pre-harvest to act as a desiccant to help the process. It is popular! The use of glyphosate has increased significantly in recent decades and is more so due to genetic modification of crops since 1996. More studies have shown the rising level of glyphosate in our water and bodies. The full effects of which we will never fully know although the associated rises of many neurological conditions among others cannot be ignored. Independent research is always difficult to find.
Currently, glyphosate is approved in the EU until 15th December 2023 with an approval renewal process underway. However, there are strong opposition voices to this renewal with many concerns being expressed about the health risks associated such as non-Hodkin Lymphoma and serious eye damage. Noted that glyphosate is probably carcinogenic to humans by the IARC in 2015 with subsequent significant lawsuits brought against Monsanto and Bayer yielding eye-watering sums of payouts in the USA yet reading the EU documentation you might be inclined to think it's relatively harmless!
Weedkiller is big business make no mistake and there is of course a strong lobby to keep it being used.
Using organic food and care products is an active way to reduce your risk of increasing exposure.
Instead of waiting for research to allay your concerns you can become the case study of one. Make the switch and see how much better you will be! As a community, we need to have a vested interest in ourselves.
A dramatic rise in olive oil prices echoes the impact of wild fires on the olive groves of Greece in recent times. It is difficult to imagine the devastation involved when a resource such as olive groves that are hundreds of years old goes up in smoke. Livelihoods, memories, traditions gone in an instant. Can we compare such an experience here in Ireland? I’m remembering the images of the foot and mouth animal pyres in the Cooley peninsula. The trauma of that time is hard to go back to and in truth at the time I did not appreciate the enormity of it.
Our reliance on olive oil though driven by years of nutrition advice and the benefits of the Mediterranean diet etc., have contributed to us forgetting about our local equivalents. Should we not be able to access olive oil at all being prohibitively expensive or not available what do we do? Use rapeseed oil for salad dressings? Use lard for cooking? Tallow for frying?
What is tallow you say? This is the thing… we need to reacquaint ourselves with the foods we actually have. The nutrient dense and economical version we have on our door step. You might actually be surprised…
Apart from the boiling climate scenario when I think of the Mediterranean it is towards food my mind rests. Tomatoes fragrant from the vine, charcuterie, salty cheeses and olives, fish and more… Isn’t the Mediterranean diet heralded as the answer to many an ill? Is it the food itself or the setting or both? One thing is for certain this dietary culture has a strong heritage and tradition that is passed down from generation to generation. Perhaps this is why there is strong resistance in Italy to the new fangled dietary answers to climate change in the form of bug laden pastas and lab grown meats. The strong gut instinct of a nourished population that finds it important to safeguard the nations heritage and agricultural traditions that have produced great food and wine.
Make no mistake, there is a lot of money invested in alternatives to traditional food production and the traditional agricultural sector. Investors will want return on this “sure thing” for climate change. For our younger generations who are fed on nuggets and goujons the switch to synthetic will hardly be noticed so it is the older folk who have a strong memory of what real food is like that need to be convinced to change. Guilt is a great tool to use and we in Ireland have been reared on it. Undermining and demonizing the traditional sector is one of the many ways to clear the path for these synthetic products masquerading as nourishment. Take note of Italy defending food freedom. We need to defend the Irish farmers here too before its too late.
Choices, choices! One of the things that has bothered me for years is the huge choice of edible substances available to consume in the retail sector. I admit to being semi institutionalized here at The Urban Co-op so that aside I do note the rising tide of members who recognise they are more and more overwhelmed with the choices available to them and how stressful it actually is to shop. People tell us they shop with us because it is less stressful and that they have made the decision to support us because they actually enjoy the experience again. From actually being able to find a product that is actually food on its own too trusting it will actually feed you. Who knew it was all so complicated.
Here at The Urban Co-op we actively try to limit choices of products to minimize this stress and overwhelm. So when you can only get three types of yoghurt know that we have your best interests at heart!
Recent agricultural headlines were rather stark with the news of 200,000 cattle to be culled as part of the strategy to reduce emissions in Ireland. Headlines don’t refuse ink of course and while there is no definitive decision yet at policy level to follow through the topic generated considerable conversation worldwide. Elon Musk even contributed to the conversation with his “killing some cows doesn’t matter for climate change”. Culling herds to meet targets of value does stir up a passion though of sorts and I am pondering it a lot. Reducing our access to real food directly and indirectly is the threat that hangs in the ether. Ah sure can’t we get used to the fake stuff…didn’t we buy in to the margarine story easily… all we need is a 3D printer for the artificial meat version. There are shadows of the “let them eat cake” scenario I fear… and we all know how that turned out.
Recipes from Katie Verling & Jacques