Sunday 6 April 2014

Trash: 2014 Organic: 2010

I wrote last year about walking the county road with Dau.II, her friend and three bin-bags. We were encouraged by An Taisce and our tree-hugging friends to pick other people's rubbish out of the local ditches, drains and roadside verges. Actually it was a couple of weeks later in April last year and that made the work a good bit harder because the grass and nettles were well up: both obscuring the rubbish and making it harder and wetter to pick up.  Yesterday was The Day Appointed but I was all for giving it a miss.  We're busy with the lambs and the attendant civil engineering works and I still wanted to tidy up a few sceacha (Crataegus monogyna).  But the */!@%$! chainsaw wouldn't start, so mid-morning I trekked off to visit Rene my favorite bricoleur down in St Mullins to see what he could do.  Under his attention, the saw came back to life and we sat awhile having a cup of tea talking round the houses about food-labelling and fish-farming.

We've all long been aware of the difference between Irish Smoked Salmon (sourced who knows where but smoked in Ireland) and Smoked Irish Salmon (grown in Ireland but smoked who knows where).  Rene showed me an empty package of  Smoked Irish Salmon : organically farmed mild oak smoked salmon. On the back, the product claims to be Smoked Irish Organic Salmon (Salmo salar) slices. He knows a lot about fish-farming having started the first eel (Anguilla anguilla) farm in the Netherlands a generation ago and he has an idea about what corners are necessary to cut if you want to supply one of the big UK margin-slashing supermarket chains.  He was also a bit bamboozled by the Euroleaf symbol (see right) which appeared under the bar code. But maybe that's because he hasn't got out much these last four years: "From 1 July 2010, the use of the EU organic logo is compulsory for organic pre-packaged food produced within the European Union."  He maintained that the only thing organic about the product was the saw-dust used to smoke it.  Which, if you read the brown text above, could well be true in the weasel-word tradition that makes a marketable distinction between Irish Smoked Salmon and Smoked Irish Salmon. But the documentation on places where the Euroleaf may be displayed suggest that this hypothesis cannot hold up - and I quote:
Can the logo be used on packaging material of the following products?
  • Sardines in organic olive oil: NO
  • Organic salmon: YES
  • Wine made with organic grapes: NO
  • Soup made of organic vegetables: YES
  • Wool from organic sheep: NO
  • Milk from a dairy farm in conversion period: NO 
  • Other organic animal products, where only national rules exist (rabbits, snails, deers, etc.): NO
  • Pet food: NO 
Clear? As organic mud! But do we really care whether the farmed salmon or the fish-meal they ate or the lice that they shed into the surrounding water or indeed mild oak sawdust is organic if the stuff has accumulated serious and unnecessary planet-sapping shipping miles between being gaffed in Ireland and smoked in Scotland? Local trumps organic.

By the time I returned, The Beloved and O'Manch had been out for an hour and picked the road clean well into the neighbouring county.  All I was able to contribute was an old tire that I'd picked out of the verge the previous afternoon on the way home and the wing of my own car which I had retrieved from a ditch in another part of the county a few days after my argument with that same ditch. TB & O'M had found another two tires and a couple of bagfuls of miscellaneous jetsam.  After a bowl of soup we went to the village hall to compare notes with the other trash-pickers and have a community cup of tea and some buns.  This annual ritual is worth doing, not only to meet the neighbours, scarf down some free food and clean up our own back-yard but also to discourage the next person who wants to fire something out of the car-window.  If the hedges are already festooned with detritus, it is marginally easier to do the wrong thing.

1 comment:

  1. Reminds me of lidl. Produce of irl, or product of irl. Same typeface size & design. Ones irish like meself. Tother is packaged here maybe? Not very clear labelling