Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Duncan and our food


In a recent episode of his RTE show, Eco Eye (not yet available online), Duncan Stewart explored the source of Irish food.  He seemed alarmed at the fact that in 2008 Ireland imported just over €4.5 billion worth of food.  He failed to mention to we also exported over €7 billion in the same category.  Full retails of our external trade in food are given here. Click to enlarge (figures in €millions).

Food Trade

Duncan is correct though the 2009 figure will down to about €4.2 billion.

During the show Duncan went to fresh food producers around the country, spent a few enjoyable Saturdays at some of the ever increasing number of Farmers’ Markets, and wondered why a small number of multiple retailers have virtual control over our food supply.  The thoughts of domestic food producers feeling pressure from the retailers were to the fore.

The programme raised many interest points and is worthwhile viewing from a number of perspectives.

Duncan ended the show with the following quote (paraphrased):

“Ireland imports €4.5 billion worth of food every year.  Of that €3 billion could be produced here.  That is €3 billion euro that could be flowing around the Irish economy and sustaining 10,000 jobs.”

This reminded me of a quote often attributed (possible in error) to Abraham Lincoln:

“I don’t know much about the tariff, but I know this. If I buy a coat in England, I get the coat and England gets the money. If I buy a coat in America, I get the coat and America gets the money.”

What is the flaw in Lincoln’s (and Duncan’s) logic?

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