Saturday, 15 October 2011

The Search Re-visited

rainbow chard from the market to cheer up a dark day

 After last Thursday's disappointing trip to the co-op market, I thought it only fair to re-visit it on a Saturday morning when it's in full swing before totally making my mind up on it's merits, so off I went this morning to check it out. I knew I'd caught it on a bad day the last time, and with me in a bad mood to boot it was never going to be a fair appraisal of what the place really had to offer. I'm pleased to say that this morning it did live up to my a point (more on that in a minute).

The place was bustling, despite it being one of those awful, dark Dublin mornings, where to leave your bed at all is nothing short of a miracle. But miracles happened and off I trundled with shopping bag in hand. And I wasn't alone. There was a great buzz to the place. What had been an empty, soul-less room on Thursday was transformed into a vibrant and plentiful marketplace. There were no less than four different veg stalls (again more on that later...can you feel a rant coming on?), cake stalls, bread stalls, (including one selling bread made from Kamut wheat, never heard of it before, very interesting, I feel lots of nerdy bread experimentation coming on!) cheese stalls, jewelery, olive oil, the list goes on. There were also a few stalls selling nice treats for lunch as well as the in house cafe which was doing a roaring trade. There was plenty of seating for those who wanted to eat but to be honest you'd have a tough job trying to find a seat, it was so busy. In short it was unrecognisable from what I had visited last week. And I was thrilled to have been proved wrong. My other favourite thing was that there was a small and very understated trad session being had in the seating area that filled the place with gorgeous tunes as well as a busker at the front door. The whole thing just felt lovely. So lovely in fact that I'm sorely tempted to join, where for 25 euro you become a member and are entitled to discounts off produce and an opportunity to get involved in the market through volunteering and inclusion in decision making and possible planning.

Anyway, memberships and market domination aside, I had a small list of items I wanted to get to make a bean soup later but I was determined to only buy Irish veg....queue rant....This is a new thing of mine and I seem to be getting quite bogged down in it. Having gone to an interesting talk on the Slow Food movement in DIT's Cathal Brugha Street, I'm more inspired than ever to try to eat responsibly. So, where at all possible I'm buying Irish produced food and trying to cut down on my meat intake. I had a good old look around the veg that was on offer in the market. There's quite the selection and at first glance I was delighted. They were all organic, but I decided to see what they had on offer before I started getting ranty (see previous rant here). As I looked around my initial joy at the array on offer soon started to fade as I realised that at least half the veg on offer was not produced in Ireland. I can kind of understand the need to import things like avocados, kiwis, mangoes, that sort of thing. Although, I'm not sure it's impossible to grow them here, given the right equipment, but possibly prohibitively expensive to do so commercially. So I let those go. But then I started seeing that a lot of the onions, garlic, apples, celery and pears (amongst other non exotic stuff) were also imported (A lot from Holland for some reason). Now, I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure Ireland is capable of growing onions. And apples? You've got to be kidding me? It's autumn. Aren't we over-run with falling apples? I'm clearly missing something here. I don't understand how the organic philosophy fits in with the practice of unnecessary importation of produce that is easily grown in this country. I  plucked up the courage to ask the seller about the importation of his foreign produce. He buys it off these guys who import it and then sell it wholesale in Ireland. Healy's also have a stall at the co-op. My courage did not go far enough however to ask him why he had to import apples at all and why he couldn't find an Irish producer to suit his needs instead? Must get braver next time...Baby steps.

Luckily I did not need much in the way of exotic veg for my soup base and was able to pick up the carrots and onions (Irish)  from the market. I gave up when it came to the celery, the only available being from Holland and I was proving a point now. Who needs celery I thought? I picked up a few other bits and pieces in the shop and went on my way. It was only after I'd left that the answer to my question hit me...I need celery soup needs celery. So in I went to Londis on the way home a bit defeated. You go to all the effort to go to a farmers market and you have to go to Londis for the celery? Sheesh. I gave in to the thought that I would be getting celery from China, but at least it wouldn't cost the earth. And there it was....Irish grown celery. Ok, it wasn't organic, but it was Irish. So it's clearly not impossible to grow celery in Ireland. This is very frustrating. It seems I will have to make a choice. What is my priority here? Irish grown or organic? I don't claim to understand the ins and outs of the fruit and veg market in Ireland and even less so the organic fruit and veg market, but it seems to me that we should be trying to avoid any unnecessary food miles on our produce at all costs. Which brings me back to my point, would it not be better to buy un-organic Irish produce than organic foreign produce? Honestly I don't know the answer, but for now I'm going to go with Irish first, organic second until someone can explain to me why I'm wrong. 

This responsibility thing is hard work. 


  1. I think you should join the market, set up a stall selling food sourced from allotments (people grow more than they can eat - take the surplus) and promote the Arbutus Supper Club at the same time. SYNERGYYYYY!!!!!!!

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  3. You're so right, in fact Trevor Sargent agrees with you on the issues. Thanks to him all Bord Bia approved farmers markets have to have a stall for just such a purpose. Wonderful. Check it! on