Arid Environment

Ask the biodiversity experts, buy local Irish honey and enter a photo competition

The Menu is not alone in thinking we have moved far beyond the point where the pursuit of a more ‘sustainable’ lifestyle is a sufficient response to the multi-faceted environmental catastrophes we now face, most especially when it comes to food and eating. The very word, ‘sustainable’, was long ago co-opted and misappropriated by vested interests whose only interest is in ‘sustaining’ profits at all costs, in pursuing endless and unsustainable ‘growth’, and almost entirely ignoring the equal if not more Important needs of society and the environment, and the global food production system is a prime culprit.

The damage now inflicted on the land and the oceans and the air is surely nothing to be ‘sustained’ but rather immediately and drastically reversed. This is why these days, The Menu is infinitely more wedded to the concept of regeneration: returning the land, the oceans and the atmosphere to their former pristine states or as close as is possible, and only then talking about ‘sustaining’ them in those ideal states.

It is not enough to cross our fingers and hope ‘someone else’ sorts it out.

We all need to make changes, not for a day, or even a whole week, but every single day for the rest of our lives.

Change is never easy but the alternative is far worse. Start small and gradually build up new habits in your daily sourcing, shopping, storing and cooking of food, basing it all as much as possible on the principle of shopping for local food, ideally organic, and always at season. You will eat tastier and more nutritious food, support your local economy and the environment and, most importantly, become empowered to be part of the change.

National Biodiversity Week (May 13-22) is ongoing, leading up to the UN International Biodiversity Day (May 22) and there are ongoing events around the country.

biodiversityweek.ie has an amateur photography competition with cash prizes of up to €500 for pics of our natural flora and fauna and there is also an ocean photography category (Closing date: May 31).

There is a weeklong Ask Our Experts program to identify all species of flora and fauna by uploading a pic to Twitter (@IrishEnvNet) or Instagram (national.biodiversity.week) with the hashtag #BackyardBioblitz with a bonus draw for an ID swatch.

And a Dawn Chorus (May 15 at 4.15am) walk takes place tomorrow morning in Ballincollig Regional Park, organised by the Cork Branch of BirdWatch Ireland, meeting in the car park of the Church of Christ our Light, Innishmore Lawn, Ballincollig. All are welcome.

The Organic Center in Co Leitrim, has a whole host of wonderful events over the course of Biodiversity Week, check them out on theorganiccentre.ie

Real Wine Month

What better way to work towards a better planet than to savor the pleasures of finest natural wines, these days, The Menu’s primary tipple of choice, with the return of Real Wine Month, a celebration of organic, biodynamic and natural wines with events in restaurants , wine bars, bars, cafes and wine shops around the country.

Vins de Copains tastings this week feature three fine Irish-based indie importers strutting their stuff, Le Caveau, Brian’s Wines and Veraison and fetches up in L’Atititude 51 on May 17 with a Natural Wine Masterclass (May 28) for curious novices.

Slow Food Festival at the Burren

Burren Smokehouse supremo Birgitta Hedin-Curtin, one of the driving forces behind the very wonderful Burren Slow Food Festival, in Co Clare
Burren Smokehouse supremo Birgitta Hedin-Curtin, one of the driving forces behind the very wonderful Burren Slow Food Festival, in Co Clare

Burren Slow Food Festival (May 20-22) has a tidy program including free tastings and talks, with a special Slow Food Banquet on Saturday night in the Burren Smokehouse and a tribute to Ukrainian food at the Farmer’s Market on Sunday.

TODAY’S SPECIAL

For decades, the polar bear was a globally recognisable signifier for the plight of the planet’s habitat as its natural habitat has quite literally melted away. The Menu has long held even greater concerns for the fate of another creature—the bee. The potential extinction of the polar bear would be yet another indictment of human folly but the extinction of the bee would be quite catastrophic, for it is one of our primary pollinators.

Accordingly, one of the best things you can do in the fight for its survival is to support the work of local beekeepers and purchase genuine local Irish honey. It is a financial commitment for it costs more than the imported, blended pasteurized honey that dominates the supermarket shelves but purchasing this inferior product for financial reasons alone is a false economy: not only does a genuine, local honey, produced in small batches contain infinitely more antibiotic and antiseptic properties to make it a genuinely healing superfood but it also supports the local environment and economy and aids the growth of a network of Irish beekeepers. One of the difficulties in supporting local Irish beekeepers is the finite supply, so the more the merrier.

Best of all are those working with the native Irish honey bee, a doughty creature greatly suited to our variable climate and even capable of venturing out in wet weather.

Dungarvan Honey, The Menu's top pick for the table this week
Dungarvan Honey, The Menu’s top pick for the table this week

Dungarvan Honey’s Pure Irish Heather honey is a splendid example of all that is wonderful about one of nature’s finest creations.

Deep, rich amber in color with a thick, almost treacly texture, Patrick Reilly’s honey is flush with smoky caramel sweetness that resolves with a clean, even bracing herbaceous astringency from the propolis. The Menu is a great believer that honey is an ideal companion for cheese and looking to find something sharing a similar terroir he enjoyed it with creamy, rich Knockanore Irish Oak Smoked Raw Milk Cheddar, a heavenly marriage made in West Waterford.

Available in season from the wonderful Blasta Wholefoods, in Dungarvan. Otherwise, check out irishbeekeepers.ie to find a beekeeper in your own locality.

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