Taking Action on Climate Change by Eating Local
Talk by artist, writer and grower Lisa Fingleton
‘When you control food, you control society.
When you control seeds, you control life on earth.’
– Vandana Shiva
One day I bought a BLT sandwich in a petrol station and I couldn’t believe that there were over 40 listed ingredients from all over the world including such things as Diglycerides of Fatty Acids, xanthan gum, emulsifier and stabilisers.
I started to think about the journey of a sandwich and where all these ingredients come from. It felt like this sandwich connected me to so many places, people, plants and animals from all over the planet. I started to think about the energy needed to bring this sandwich to me; all the electricity, fuel and water. It makes me sad that food, which lands on our plate, has travelled thousands of miles just to be eaten by us. I had been to Borneo and seen the destruction of the rainforest with palm oil plantations and here was palm oil in my sandwich.
I learned a lot from that BLT. It made me question if there is really any such a thing as ‘cheap food’? Someone, somewhere is paying the price in terms of poor conditions for workers, crowded conditions for battery hens or health implications for the consumers of processed foods.
I am concerned about the fact that we are importing so much of our food and losing the capacity to be self sufficient, despite what we know about climate change and carbon footprint. According to Eurostats 2016 “Only 1% of Irish farms grow vegetables, the lowest in the EU”
Why are we not growing vegetables in Ireland?
Rather than getting bogged down in doing nothing, I started the 30 Day Local Food Challenge, encouraging people to eat local food for the month September each year. We ate only ingredients grown on the island of Ireland so that meant doing without imported goods such as sugar, bananas, chocolate and other luxuries to which we have become accustomed! It’s a great way to eat good food, support local food producers and become more sustainable and resilient. Groups around the country started inviting me to give talks and workshops on eating local food. It wasn’t possible to meet everyone, so I decided to write a book that could share the learning. Afterall I am based in North Kerry, the home of writing, so why not write a book?
I am delighted to come to Greystones on the 30th March to meet other people who are passionate about food. The book explores the power of growing and eating local food. Incorporating drawings, photography and text, the book is the culmination of three years of work. The book is creatively presented in journal style and is filled with ideas and actions for people who think global and want to act local.
“Congratulations to Lisa on this really well researched and illustrated publication. The message is stark for policy makers be they local or national – we need to encourage and promote the growing of more vegetables and fruit in this country for both food security and healthy eating”
Jimmy Deenihan (Chair, Listowel Food Fair www.listowelfoodfair.ie