Episodes

Episode 14: Glyphosate

Glyphosate

While many farmers, the Irish Department of Agriculture and Teagasc say that Irish farmers can’t get by without the controversial herbicide, not everyone agrees….

While some EU countries are in the process of banning Glyphosate, the most used herbicide on the planet and the active ingredient in Monsanto’s RoundUp, Ireland’s Department of Agriculture and Teagasc, the Irish agricultural training and research body, say there’s no alternative and that Irish farming is not sustainable without it.

Ellie is joined by John Spink, Teagasc’s head of Crops and Environment, organic farmer Ross Jackson who runs Lacka Lamb with his wife Amy and farms organic oats and barley, and NUIG researcher Dr Alison Connolly, who is conducting research into glyphosate exposure in Irish farming and non-farming families, for a look at the current state of play regarding the chemical which has been involved in several controversies including high-profile cancer lawsuits in the US for occupational exposure and emerging evidence that glyphosate can have negative impacts on bee health.

Episode 13: 2020 – Sugar in hindsight

2020: Sugar in hindsight

It may have seemed like a sweet deal, but the history of Irish sugar leaves a bitter taste in the mouth in hindsight….

The closure of the Irish sugar industry in 2005 was a staggering blow to Irish food security. From being self-sufficient in sugar and molasses to importing hundreds of thousands of tonnes of these commodities per year, often from countries whose cheap production relies on horrendous working conditions on sugar cane plantations, it’s difficult to look back on the demolition of the industry as anything other than a retrograde step. 

The salutary tale of the demolition of Ireland’s indigenous sugar industry, whose closure impacted 3,700 beet farmers and thousands of other jobs, in light of recent concerns for food security raised by Brexit and the Covid Crisis, still has plenty to teach us. 

From compensation packages for Irish farmers to a particularly sweet deal for Greencore, the food company that shut up shop under pressure from an EU sugar reform scheme, Ellie is joined by Allan Navratil, a farmer whose family history is steeped in the story of Irish sugar, for a 2020 look at Ireland’s lost sugar industry. 

Episode 12: Halloween Pumpkin Special!

The Halloween Pumpkin Special!

(Scroll to the next page for recipes…..)

Welcome to a very special family-friendly episode of Green Bites, all about the pumpkin. 

Join Ellie and her co-host Fionn, 5, to carve pumpkins and make pumpkin pie from a very special pumpkin that Ellie got by going to visit vegetable farmers Joe and Sandra Burns. 

Every year Joe and Sandra grow 5,000 pumpkins on their farm, where they also make delicious and award-winning crisps out of potatoes and other vegetables. Then they run pumpkin picking weekends where families can come and choose their own pumpkin!

Joe, Sandra and Katelyn

Covering food waste, seed-saving, how pumpkins grow and recipes you can use to make sure you’re getting the most out of your Halloween pumpkin, this podcast episode is tasty food for thought and comes with recipes too! Would you like to try saving pumpkin seeds to grow your own? Did you know a pumpkin is a fruit but rhubarb is a vegetable?  

Scroll to the next page for recipes…..

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Episode 11: Growing Community

Growing Community

Green Bites visited with community gardens on Cork’s Northside at the end of the spring Covid-19 lockdown to learn how gardening is not only used therapeutically to aid mental health, but to grow resilient communities. 

Community Health officers Sarah Carr and John Paul O’Brien give Ellie a tour of NICHE Community Garden in Knocknaheeny.  Nearby in Gurranebraher, Micheál O’Connor has founded The Hut Rooftop Garden, at a resource used predominantly by young people.

Episode ten: An Ode to Apples

An Ode to Apples

Did you know that less that 5% of the apples eaten in Ireland are grown here? Most are flown from far-flung places like New Zealand, Chile and South Africa. Yet all over the country, each autumn, apples are left to rot in gardens.

Why?

This ode to the humble apple is in the company of David Llewellyn of Llewellyn’s Orchard in Lusk, Co Dublin. Not only does David grow rare varieties of apples and pears at his six acre orchard, but he also has a vineyard, grows Merlot, Rondo and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, and produces 1,000 bottles of Irish wine each year.

He also produces ciders, perrys, apple cider vinegar and juice. Join David to ponder why Irish supermarkets don’t stock Irish apples, take a ramble through the EU marketing rules that insist all apples that are sold are flawless and uniform, and wonder at the fiendishly clever marketing strategies of the Pink Lady PR team.

Episode nine: Loam

Loam

“Chefs have a responsibility to choose and nurture their supply chain. The restaurant is the showcase of a lot of other hard work that’s gone on in the background, and it’s important for the restaurant to showcase that work in a respectful kind of a way.”

Meet Enda McEvoy, head chef and co-owner of Michelin-starred Galway restaurant Loam, where Enda is envisioning a new indigenous Irish cuisine based on locally grown, foraged and hunted foods.

Loam is the first ever Irish restaurant to be awarded three stars by the Sustainable Restaurant Association and the first winner of Michelin’s UK and Ireland sustainability award. 

Following an extraordinary meal at Loam, Ellie returns to the restaurant to chat to Enda; everything from the day-to-day relationships built with veg growers and suppliers, to the colonial origins of French gastronomy, to whether or not there’s an Irish-grown substitute for pepper feature in this wide-ranging conversation.

Episode eight: Neighbourfood

Neighbourfood

Jack Crotty, left, and Martin Poucher, right

From five collection points in March to 40 all over Ireland and 15 in the UK in September, Neighbourfood, the click-and-collect online shopping system that allows time-poor customers to support their local food growers and producers, is taking off.

In episode eight of Green Bites, meet Jack Crotty, co-founder of the two-year-old fledgling business. Jack’s first business, The Rocket Man food company, is still going strong in his native Cork.

Jack talks about how Covid-19 restrictions led to an increase in demand for Neighbourfood, his philosophy on the Irish food landscape for small producers, and his hopes to grow into a lot more than just an online food shop in the future.

Episode seven: Seeds of hope, seeds of change

Seeds of hope, seeds of change

Ireland is almost entirely dependent on imported seed for all its commercial and garden food crop seeds.  During the Covid-19 restrictions, this dependence was highlighted when both Ireland’s organic seed suppliers, Irish Seedsavers and Brown Envelope Seeds, were forced to limit access to their website to ration their seeds in response to the boom in interesting in growing vegetables. 

Ellie visits both Irish Seedsavers and Brown Envelope Seeds to explore the implications of this for our food security and sovereignty. 

At Irish Seedsavers, she talks to General Manager Jennifer McConnell and Seed Curator Jo Newton and takes a tour of the registered charity that holds 600 varieties of seeds in trust for future generations in a public seed bank, and learns about Irish Seedsavers’ heritage apple orchard and the story of the long-lost, now restored Bawn Onion.

In West Cork, Ellie visits Madeline McKeever, small beef farmer, founder of Brown Envelope Seeds, co-founder of Skibbereen Farmer’s Market and mother of SD Agriculture spokesperson Holly McKeever Cairns. Madeline is a self-described “apocaloptimist” – so where is the cause for optimism? The answer is quite simple.

Green Bites on holidays!

Season one of Green Bites, Ireland’s food sustainability podcast, is on pause until the start of September.

It’s time for some self-care in the form of cycling the West and the Midlands. So if you see a bike like this……

….come and say hi! In the meantime, the show has had over 1,000 listens to the first six episodes. Thanks so much for all the sharing and commenting and above all listening! Back soon, ready for an autumn of episodes on all sorts of topics.

Eat well and be happy!

Episode six: The Knowledge of Salmon

The Knowledge of Salmon

From smoked salmon to sushi, salmon is widely eaten and widely loved. But wild Atlantic salmon stocks are in a dangerous decline. In the meantime, Ireland plans to double its farmed salmon exports in the coming years and yet our government licensing system hangs in a 13-year stasis.

What’s the connection between wild salmon and farmed salmon? Organic certified salmon farming seems to provide a sustainable way for seafood lovers to keep eating the King of Fish. But campaigners argue that disease and parasites from salmon farms are one of the reasons why the future of wild fish now hangs in the balance, while Ireland’s Marine Institute says this is untrue.

Ireland currently produces under 20,000 tonnes of organic-certified farmed salmon per year, cashing in on its green image and relatively low intensity to export most of this premium product to European markets.

But intensive salmon farming giants like Scotland and Norway have battled increasing problems with disease and parasites, giving rise to animal welfare concerns for the farmed fish as well as the impacts on wild migratory salmonids. In 2018, a Scottish diver at Vacasay at a farm run by the Scottish Salmon Company, filmed this horrific footage, which you should definitely not watch before brunch.

So can Ireland double production of farmed salmon and stay sustainable?

With John Murphy of Salmonwatch Ireland and Catherine McManus of MOWI, the Norwegian aquaculture giant who produce the bulk of Ireland’s organic farmed salmon, Green Bites goes fishing for the truth about the sustainability of salmon.