Food fit for a king. Rubberbandits none too pleased! Horsemeat, and more, on the menu of the High Kings at Tara. I bet you they still didn’t eat their greens. Giddyup, now my baby!
“Emmer wheat, virtually no einkorn (and one has to ask how securely identified any einkorn was), naked barley and a bit of flax– that pretty much sums up Neolithic Ireland, in contrast to the 8 ‘founder crops’ that are meant to characterize the start of agricultural dispersal from the Near East”. Read more from this intriguing study about how the basket of crops unravelled in their spread westward to Ireland.
It never made much inroads north of the border in its pre-famine zenith but now the lumper potato variety is back and being cultivated in the Glens of Antrim of all places. It is back on the menu after an absense of 170 years. Already it has made an appearance at Selfridges as well as Marks and Spencers. I just wonder what the marketing or branding angle is, I can think of a couple. I suppose the planting material came from the national collection at the Tops Centre, Raphoe. Would be interested to know more about the background to that. I wonder how it holds up in the field, to late blight, current soil and climate conditions. Very intriguing. And I wonder when we can expect to see other pre-famine varieties such as the black potato, red cup and the apple put in an appearance
Or what about this from the English geographer Halford Mackinder, ‘man is part of his own environment, as cheese mites are part of cheese’. Cork University Press are certainly producing the goods when it comes to geographical and historical atlases. Most recently in 2012 they published the magnificant Atlas of the Great Irish Famine. Prior to that in 2011 they published a revised version of the Atlas of the Irish Rural Landscape. An exquisitely produced and scholarly treatment on a range of rural issues including the unravelling of potato diversity in the decades prior to the Famine.
With increasing urban food insecurity and the earlier reported rise in city-based food safety nets I expect this kind of strategy will begin to appear for other cities. The Vancouver Food Strategy is a plan to create a just and sustainable food system for the city. It builds on years of food systems initiatives and grassroots community development, considering all aspects of the food system, from seed to table to compost heap and back again. The strategy has five broad goals to: support food-friendly neighbourhoods; empower residents to take action; improve access to healthy, affordable, culturally diverse food for all residents; make food a centrepiece of Vancouver’s green economy; and advocate for a just and sustainable food system. Containing detailed descriptions of the Vancouver food system – including 47 community gardens, 17 urban farms, 18 community orchards, 20,000 people using neighbourhood food networks - this comprehensive document is well worth a browse
Just what is agroecology all about? Is it a science, a practice, an ideology, a social movement or a transformative political process? Its all this and more according to the many authors contributing to this special open access issue of Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems. And while the ecological science is now much understood, achieving the other multiple goals of agroecology requires much more attention and effort.
Of course one approach to the problem of food insecurity and improving food safety nets in urban areas and enhancing dietary diversity, be it in high or low income countries, is to strengthen local food systems, urban agriculture and community supported agriculture. Don’t know where to start? Regional Food Systems, Reclaiming Our Food and City Farmer News are good places to start looking.