On Saturday, Elly and I were out of bed and on a bus into Dublin city centre before 10am – an unusual occurrence for us to be out and about that early on a weekend but we were both eager to have an early look around The Point Village Market.
We’ve visited a number of markets around the Dublin area in the last few months and been somewhat disappointed. In one case the Market was no longer in operation at the location still being advertised online. So while we were both hopeful, we also weren’t raising our expectations to much, just in case we were disappointed.
Thankfully, we weren’t. Now I know the weather was awesome last Saturday and that certainly did help to make it a wonderful day out but the market is definitely worth a visit, for a number of reasons. It’s easily accessible via the Luas (red line) which terminates right beside the market, or by a leisurely stroll down the river bank as we did.
The selection of stalls was very good although my initial impression was a little lack lustre as the first row we encountered seemed to be all books, bric-a-brac and jewellery stalls, not my thing really. Elly, on the other hand was in her element being the bookworm that she is
Thankfully just as I was starting to get bored we spotted the first food stall, selling baklava, Turkish delight and the largest muffins I’ve ever seen! We settled on purchasing some baklava for later and moved on not wanting to load ourselves up too much until we’d seen all that was available.
From here we turned a corner and things just got better, there were produce stalls for everything and anything – butcher, bakers, yes even a candlestick maker! What really amazed me was the selection of produce available: fruit and veg, cheese, fish, organic lamb, bread, jam, chutney, olive oil, oysters, chorizo and salami – even Indian ghee was available.
Most seemed to be artisan and/or organic produce and everyone was very friendly and wanted to tell us about their produce and was more than happy to talk at length about them; but this didn’t come across as some sort of pushy sales technique.
There were also a large selection of food stalls and I was happy to see that this didn’t mean a chip van or two. Instead there was genuine choice: Hot dogs, organic meat pies, oysters and wine, taco’s, pizza (from a wood fired oven) and a fish and chip van that we’re not sure even had chips, but they did have chowder, calamari and scallops on the menu.
By now it was heading for midday and we were starting to get a little hungry, so after some discussion we decided that we would share a pizza between us, partly cause they looked really good but also because they were using a sour dough bread for the base, cooking it in a wood fired oven and using some really great looking ingredients and I’m happy to report that the pizza was fantastic. A great lunch to set us up for the rest of our day.
After we ate, Elly loaded me up like a pack mule with all our purchases (thankfully we had brought a small rucksack) before we headed back towards the city centre and paid a visit to an asian supermarket (oh the spices, but more on that another day), some other shopping and the last stop of our Saturday morning experience, a visit to the new Murphy’s Ice cream store in Temple Bar where we spotted and said hello to Kieran, Thea and the rest of the team as they were busy setting up the store and scooping ice cream to an appreciative crowd in Temple Bar.
As we sat down on the kerb in the blazing afternoon sun to enjoy our ice cream, a busker finished his break, strummed a few chords on his guitar and sang the opening line “Here comes the sun”, some soap bubbles appeared on the breeze, the sun seemed to shine a little brighter, even the pigeons were smiling 😉 and in a flash I remembered that while it has it’s faults you can’t beat Dublin in a June heatwave
Recently, (about a week ago) I spotted a link from @donegangardens on twitter that led to a really surprising story. Essentially Haitian farmers have been offered 60,000 seed sacks of hybrid corn and vegetable seeds by Monsanto (manufacturers of Roundup). Not only have they turned them down, they have actually vowed to burn them. Full Story here.
While at first this might seem a little ungrateful and idiotic after the recent disaster, I for one am very impressed by this. Monsanto’s GM Seeds account for 90% of the GM crops sown in the US. So? I hear you say – they developed a product that people want and are reaping the benefits.
While this is true, it doesn’t give the full picture. To see the extremes that Monsanto are willing to go to, in order to protect their monopoly it’s worth watching Food, Inc. or reading this Wikipedia article.
Now I don’t want anyone getting the impression that I’m anti GM crops, I’m not (I look forward to square fruit and veg that don’t roll off my work surfaces and bruise themselves ) in fact I believe it’s just an extension of what’s been happening in agriculture for centuries with selective breeding and cross breeding. The genetic code of many plants has been changed, possibly the best known example is the orange carrot; this is not natural, but a result of extensive breeding by the Dutch.
Where I have an issue with genetically modified crops, as we know them today, is a result of the litigiouf tactics used by Monsanto.
Throughout 2004 and 2005, Monsanto filed lawsuits against many farmers in Canada and the U.S. on the grounds of patent infringement, specifically the farmers’ sale of seed containing Monsanto’s patented genes. In some cases, farmers claimed the seed was unknowingly sown by wind carrying the seeds from neighboring crops, a claim rejected in Monsanto Canada Inc. v. Schmeiser. These instances began in the mid to late 1990s, with one of the most significant cases being decided in Monsanto’s favor by the Canadian Supreme Court. By a 5-4 vote in late May 2004, that court ruled that “by cultivating a plant containing the patented gene and composed of the patented cells without license, the appellants (canola farmer Percy Schmeiser) deprived the respondents of the full enjoyment of the patent.” With this ruling, the Canadian courts followed the U.S. Supreme Court in its decision on patent issues involving plants and genes. Source
The main effect of this is that farmers are not allowed to keep seed from their crop to plant next season, which significantly raises costs for the farmers in question.
On top of all this Monsanto’s seeds are linked to a range of new superweeds that have evolved (remarkably quickly) to be resistant to Roundup and other weed killers.
A lot of us Geeky/Techie types have been known to go on about Microsoft / Google / Apple / “flavour of the week” are pure evil and are out to control the world for their own demonic ends but those guys are amateurs compared to Monsanto, who are looking to control the food chain and in the US at least they are almost there. Think about it, Monsanto provide the corn seed, which (thanks to the processing industry) gets processed into roughly 25% of all products in US Supermarket chains (Source) and while we all know supermarkets sell more than food these days, US supermarkets take that to a whole new level with a product range that exceeds what’s available in most Irish shopping centres. So how much Monsanto GM corn is in the food?
Corn (because there is now such an excess) is now used to feed the majority of US beef cattle even though cattle are not designed to live on it. Corn feeds a lot of the chickens that are reared in the US as well, both for meat and eggs. Hell, even farmed salmon in the US are now being trained to eat corn.
So if the people eat the corn and the farm animals eat the corn and are then eaten by the people, who has majority control of the food chain… The people? The government, the farmers or Monsanto?
And these guys want to “give” all this seed “free” to Haitian farmers? With their track record, I think most will forgive my scepticism, but in my opinion there just might be a very sinister ulterior motive in play and I for one both respect and admire the Haitians who are taking this stand as the heroes they truly are.
I recently watched Food Inc. partly out of curiosity, partly out of my fascination with all things food and partly to see if I was on the right track with my move to home cooked meals from fresh ingredients and boy was it an eye opener. So many questions, so few answers…
This film, one would assume, has it’s facts straight, otherwise some of the monster food companies would be suing it out of existence. But it’s not just about the facts, the film is very well made and the way the facts are revealed is not designed to shock but to educate us.
After watching it I know I will be paying a lot more attention to where my fresh food comes from and how it’s produced, be it meat, poultry, fish or fruit and veg. We all need to be more aware of these things so that we can all make better choices for us and our families.
If you eat you need to see this film!
I would love to hear from Irish farmers and slaughterhouses about the conditions in their operations so as ever the comment form is open below.