The broadcaster, architect and campaigner for a sustainable future, Duncan Stewart, ‘gets it’ when it comes to understanding how precarious our global food supply system has become. Food supply is, in effect, floating on a sea of fossil fuels. The non-organic fertilizers and the armoury of weed killers and pesticides are oil-based, likewise the machinery, processing, packaging, transportation, storage, etc. If oil is too dear, food will be too dear, if it will be available at all. It may never happen, you may say. Well, it did happen – in Cuba. Russian oil supplies ceased when the USSR collapsed – and the people of Cuba went hungry. Fortunately, they had good organic agriculture researchers in their universities who could retrain chemically based farmers and many new farmers to grow food without oil.
Recently, Áine and myself met Duncan Stewart who was campaigning for Green candidate, Grace O’Sullivan, in the Ireland South EU Constituency. Duncan spoke passionately with many facts at his disposal about the urgency of developing local food economies in Ireland. Ireland has 10 times more beef than its people can eat, likewise Ireland produces huge amounts of dairy goods. However, the amount of fruit and vegetables (which could be grown in Ireland) and which is now imported every day, points to the need for more horticultural production and more horticultural producers. At present many producers are getting out of horticulture.
Áine and myself, inspired by Duncan, are liaising with other organic producers in South Wexford, in the hope we can put a food co-op together to make sure continuity of food supply for the present and especially for the future when oil will no longer be a part of the food chain.