I'm posting a bit late this week, probably due to the recovery time I required after a mad and fantastic weekend at the Electric Picnic. For those of you who are not from Ireland or who have been locked in a small room for the last four years, The Electric Picnic is arguably Ireland's best music festival, the 'Glastonbury' of Ireland. Best of all it all happens just a few miles away from my house in Stradbally Co. Laois.
Most people would agree that one of the highlights of attending a festival of this kind is the food. As I wandered through the fields full of food stalls selling everything from chips and burgers to smoothies, paella and sushi I was surprised to find so much organic fare on offer. There was a little cafe near 'The Next Stage' that sold nothing but organic, vegetarian dinners of all descriptions. There was organic falafel, organic coffee and at least three tea shops offering organic blends. The farmers market area had a local organic fruit and veg stall and there was even a chance to enjoy an organic tipple at the stand belonging to Irish organic wine distributor Wilhelm Wines. One morning I found a crowd of people around a bunch of cool boxes, I was delighted to find that they were all full of organic Glenisk yogurts that were being given out for free!
With such a variety of foods and drink on offer at reasonable prices and with crowds of people ready to enjoy it I found myself wondering why prepared organic food is not more readily available throughout Ireland. There is the odd place popping up that offers some organic goodies but nowhere with the variety that was available at the Electric Picnic.
The most obvious reason would be the lack of supply of raw organic ingredients. There simply are not enough Irish grown organic vegetables or meats to ensure a constant supply of meals. Shipping organic foods from overseas has become a contentious issue and even if you only shipped from the UK by sea, ensuring minimum environmental impact, there is still not necessarily enough raw ingredients there to meet our combined needs.
So what is the solution? I guess we need to persuade more farmers to go organic. Although the amount of land here given over to organic farming is increasing, it is at a painfully slow rate. Farmers need to know that there is a market for organic produce. Large companies like Glenisk have been proactive in encouraging farmers to convert to organic milk production for them. But small manufacturers do not have the buying power to do this and to some extent this means we are stuck in a catch 22 situation.
Well done to the Electric Picnic for giving us a three day taste of organic utopia! Hopefully it will inspire some of us to fight for a more organic Ireland.