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Local food, local solutions

February 8, 2013

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.

The bank that thrives in times of recession

February 8, 2013

No obscene bonuses for these dedicated bankers. A recent IDS study has highlighted the rise in the number of food banks and the numbers of people using them in high income countries, an alarming 12% of the population in the United States. It is estimated there are ‘218 operational food banks in 17 countries in Europe. Last year 289,000 tons of food products with an estimated value of €610 million were distributed by 26,000 charities’. There are two food banks in Ireland, one in Dublin, the other in Belfast and it is estimated that 2% of the population utilises the services of a food bank. I would imagine that this is a fairly conservative figure and that many other organisations and charities are providing food safety nets of one kind or another especially in rural areas. Granted they might not meet the criteria of what constitues a formal food bank, but formal or informal it all counts in hard times.

Would be interested in hearing from anyone actively invloved in this important work.

Food security, hunger, what if?

February 3, 2013

In the run up to the next G8 Summit in Fermanagh in July more than 100 charities and organizations have got together to launch the ‘Enough Food If’ campain in an attempt to revive the momentum of the Make Poverty History campaign. But will it make much difference?  Its a big if. Here’s Lawrence Haddad of IDS take on the campaign and its prospects. For organisations like  War on Want, for whom ‘food sovereignty – giving farmers control over what they grow and how they grow it, rather than being controlled by agribusiness and commodity speculators – is the only way to develop food security’ it is a much more structural and intractable problem. This coincides with a couple of other short articles on the current food security debate which revives the seasoned optimists and pessimists argument. Fred Pearce has a short piece on the CG Agriculture and Ecosystems Blog  saying  ‘feeding the world is easy.  The panic about the ability of the world to deliver enough food for seven, eight, nine or even ten billion people is absurd.  Worse, it is driving the agenda of aggressive land-grabbers and agribusinesses — pushing farming into the hands of global commerce’, a case more forcefully put by Frances Moore Lappe in a recent Journal of Peasant Studies article.

Great Irish Famine revisited

January 20, 2013

University College Cork and Cork University Press have come up trumps with their recent publication, an Atlas of theatlas_of_the_irish_famine Great Irish Famine, edited by John Crowley, William J. Smyth, and Mike Murphy. Running to 700 pages, this really is an extraordinary book produced with excellent maps, color plates, photos and illustrations. As one of the dust jacket blurps highlights, this is probably the most definitive summary of the Great Irish Famine to date and includes contributions from most of the main scholars in the field which includes a useful section on the drivers of potato diversity in pre-famine Ireland. Interestingly, the atlas also seeks to place the Great Irish Famine in the context of a number of world famines in a final section on hunger and famine today. Given the fact that I was able to get my copy of this lavishly produced book on Amazon for 50 pounds it is not only a real gem, but an absolute steal. Hats off to Cork University Press.

Recognition for the humble Armagh Bramley

March 10, 2012

The European Commission has confirmed Armagh Bramley apples have been awarded protected geographical indication status which promotes and protects names of high quality food and drinks

Peter Wyse Jackson on Ireland’s wild plants

February 29, 2012

If you have the price of an air ticket you might want to nip over to St Louis to hear Peter Wyse Jackson deliver the annual John Dwyer lecture.

Fragile Harvest available for viewing

February 25, 2012

Henk Hobbelink at GRAIN has commented on an earlier post to indicate that they have ‘located the Canadian 1986 documentary ‘Fragile Harvest’, in which Erna appears at 6:20, 12:30 and 45:00 minutes. Other, familiar (and young!) faces such as those of Malaku Worede and Pat Mooney appear as well. The message of this 25 year old documentary hasn’t lost any of its relevance’. They have uploaded to youtube and it is now embedded on the GRAIN website. Which is indeed great news for those of us who have been keen to view it for a while. I wonder if something similar is possible for the other documentary, The Neglected Miracle, which Erna was involved in. It is available at the New Zealand Film Archive but there are restrictions on viewing outside the country.

We uploaded it to youtube, and embedded it on our site