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No food for thought - Dublin #8 The WASTED Relaunch

Updated: Jun 17

Below cost food selling threatens Ireland's food security and our own body biomes. We need urgent action to save the Irish fruit and vegetable-growing sector... and ourselves. The Climate Cocktail Club Dublin relaunch explored the hard realities of our broken food system and showcased the critical interventions needed to secure the future of food in Ireland. Masterfully curated by Mick Kelly of GIY and Food Matters fame, with expert contributions from Jess Dollinger, Karen O'Donoghue, Paul Brophy and John Gibbons, alongside enchanting spoken word by Jeremy Haworth and MC'd by Tom Popple.


"The below cost selling of vegetables has created a kind of permanent price promotion resulting in a consumer mindset that, say, carrots should be 49c a kilo, which is completely unsustainable. Unless we do something about that, we’re not going to have an Irish veg sector." Mick Kelly


"It doesn’t help that we have a severely judgemental culture in Ireland that prides itself on bargains and does not pride itself on self-care. I have customers coming to me, time and again, saying that they are scorned by family and friends for spending so much money on food that keeps them well." Karen O'Donoghue

The Climate Cocktail Club WASTED Relaunch hosted in The Sugar Club Dublin 12th June took over 200 Clubbers - new and old - on rollercoaster ride through the realities and emotions of growing, consuming and wasting food in Ireland. The evening was lubricated by complimentary cocktails curated by our own Tom Popple with Absolut vodka kindly supplied by Irish Distillers, and hunger sated by delicious canapes designed by GIY's Head of Food JB Dubois. The venue was enraptured by the topic (or the cocktails) and with standing room only, it was a warm welcome back into the arms (and sticky floors) of The Sugar Club.



Back from its long-covid hibernation, thanks to welcome (and repetitive) kicks up the climate bottom by Dublin's newest Chapter hero Jana Platau-Wagner, the Club was well and truly back in full swing. Tom set the scene with an opening address and duly thanked the key partners who help make this relaunch happen - GIY, Irish Distillers, ERINN Innovation, Irish CAP Network and BE IMPACTFUL. The Climate Cocktail Club operates on a voluntary basis and needs the support of partners to ensure the events are a success - please support our future events.



A fireside chat with Charis Garden founder and author of Four Season Farm revealed the journey Jeremy has taken from a city life in Dublin, to the heart of a market garden in rural Laois, and now his expression of growing through haibun writing. The highs, lows, rain and sun, sweat and tears of four seasons on an organic Kildare are expressed in his enchanting work that was shared with the audience.


"the number of commercial growers has dropped from over 400 to just sixty in the last decade" Paul Brophy

Mick expertly framed the causes, symptoms and cures for our broken food system in his keynote and panel session with Jess, Karen, Paul and John. Together they bluntly outlined how below cost selling has been a significant factor in the contraction of the Irish growing sector, with the number of commercial growers dropping from over 400 to just sixty in the last decade. This leaves Irish consumers vulnerable to food insecurity as the frequency of severe weather events due to climate change increases in Europe, causing mainland growers to prioritise domestic markets over exports.

 

The panel examined the drivers that perpetuate Ireland’s ‘cheap food’ culture and the impact these are having on the population’s health. As a nation, Ireland spends only 6% of household income on food - the lowest spend in Europe, followed by France at 25% and Spain at 35%. Poor diet is a contributing factor to cancer and heart disease, which are responsible for 50% of deaths in Ireland, while 17% of the population suffer from neurological conditions that are directly connected to a deficiency of vitamins B1 and B6. They interrogated how more considered growing, purchasing and eating practices could combat this public health problem, and will identified the barriers that currently exist.


Mick said “The below cost selling of vegetables has created a kind of permanent price promotion resulting in a consumer mindset that, say, carrots should be 49c a kilo, which is completely unsustainable. Unless we do something about that, we’re not going to have an Irish veg sector. It’s an industry that’s already dying right in front of our eyes. And when you consider that 75% of food that’s eaten globally comes from 12 plant varieties and 5 animal species, we’ve narrowed from huge diversity into a really narrow stack that is incredibly vulnerable. With so few food growers left in this country, unless you’re happy to live on beef and milk, we’re not very food secure at all.”


Panellist Karen of The Happy Tummy Company, which bakes gut-friendly bread to order for customers, said: “Scientific evidence shows that when you follow the recommended daily allowance guidelines for fibre, your chances of developing either cancer or heart disease decrease by over 30% - that’s really significant. It’s very easy to ingest food that promotes health if you’re a considered food buyer but if you’re depending on a supermarket to curate your health, it’s very difficult not to suffer with health conditions. It doesn’t help that we have a severely judgemental culture in Ireland that prides itself on bargains and does not pride itself on self-care. I have customers coming to me, time and again, saying that they are scorned by family and friends for spending so much money on food that keeps them well. There is also a huge amount of control in some households - so much so that people, usually women, have set up private email addresses to submit orders, or get their produce sent to different addresses so it’s a very real, very live problem.” 



The audience enjoyed freshly made cocktails with local produce and food waste as themes and settled in for the evening of facts, fun and fantastic food growing activities. GIY hosted a seed growing masterclass on the terrace and a fully stocked merch store was made available for the greener fingered Clubbers.


Thanks to all the Clubbers and Partners for making the WASTED relaunch so special. Tickets now available for November (Nature) and December (Christmas Cracker), with line-ups to follow. Secure your table or ticket now.


REACH OUT for partnership opportunities and setting up a new Chapter in your location.


See you next time.

Tom, Jana, Barry.

Climate Cocktail Club







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