12 January 2009

That's all that we live for

Well, I missed the market at Ranelagh again this weekend, but this time I didn't even make it up to check if the market still exists or not. However this gave me an excellent opportunity to check out local, non-organic vegetable options and see how they stack up to chain-store bought organic produce.

I wandered down this morning to Evergreens, an actual fruit and vegetable shop on Wexford Street, that sells pretty much nothing but fruit and vegetables. Trying to buy only seasonal Irish food with a few out of season and some imported, I ended up with the following:
In Season
beetroot (3), carrots (6), kohlrabi (2), leek (1), onions (4), parsnips (2), potatoes (2.5Kg Maris Piper), sweet potato (1)

Out of Season
aubergine (1), broccoli (225g), peppers (2), spring onions (small bunch), tomatoes (4)
Although none of the food was organic, all the seasonal vegetables were Irish and much of it was traceable to the farm of origin, for example the potatoes were picked on January 2nd on the farm of Peter Keogh & Sons, in Oldtown Co Dublin, less than 20 miles away from both the shop and my house.

The total bill came to just under €15, for (hopefully) five nights' worth of dinners for two people, which compares very well to the €10 for smaller amounts of organic veg purchased from M&S last week.

But, as they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and we'll see how tasty they are in comparison to their organic counterparts over the next few days.

The irony of this weekend was that I missed the organic food market because I spent most of Saturday and Sunday at Green Party meetings. Saturday saw a one day members' conference on the current economic difficulties, and I spent Sunday meeting with a candidate in the upcoming elections. The members' conference saw all the current Green Ministers take questions for three hours in a town hall setting, followed by a number of presentations from a number of green economists (such as Richard Douthwaite, co-founder of FEASTA and author of 'Short Circuit') in the afternoon.

The session with the Ministers was quite good and provided an insight into the budget debacle, but I was annoyed that when several speakers asked about the upcoming rerun of the Lisbon Referendum, none were acknowledge by the panel. Even when Patricia McKenna raised the issue again at the close of the session not one minister even acknowledged that aspect of her question. It was pretty obvious that they had all agreed to avoid the subject completely, even to the point of answering questions about the weight of books children had to carry in their school bags in preference to identifying their positions on the Lisbon rerun.

More annoyingly, in Sunday's meeting with a candidate and their election team, a senior party official called the Lisbon issue "dead", that as a result of the economic downturn nobody was interested in it anymore and the referendum would be passed by a huge majority. They also alleged that only one speaker (Patricia) raised the issue at Saturday's meeting, whereas anyone that was there saw that it was still an issue on the minds of many party members.

I am increasingly finding myself on the fringes of the party, as it moves more and more to the right and is in danger (as one member suggested on Saturday) of becoming little more than the environmental wing of Fianna Fail, and I am not alone. Although many speakers from the floor on Saturday raised the themes of Social Justice and Workers' Rights, it was clear that these are no longer the issues foremost on the minds of the party leadership, who are focused on pushing the message of a Green Economy as the solution to our current financial crises.

The more time I spend involved in Party politics, the more disillusioned I get with the whole political system. I am constantly reminded of the old Grocho Marx attribution, "I would never be a member of a club that would have me as a member".

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