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FOOD: Locally sourced produce and three ways with crab

Some difficult questions ...

Redmond CabotFood and wine
Redmond Cabot

Here’s a difficult question for you: “Where is your food from?”
Why should this five word sentence be a difficult question? To ask someone where their food comes from is like calling into question their judgement and decision-making ability – not something we want to do at all, at all!
Yet where is your food from? Who produces it and how is it produced? If food gives us the energy to live, walk, laugh, smile and cry, we should have a profound interest in where it is sourced.
The other day I ordered new baby carrots for the restaurant, asking for Irish produce with the green fresh tips intact, and got sent a box from Northern Africa. Mad or what?
Why do we buy vegetable foodstuffs that are produced outside our country? While there may be a need to import tomatoes or aubergines, is there a need to import temperate-climate veggies such as lettuce, spinach, broccoli and root vegetables? Is it because a different exporting country has lower labour costs than us? What happens then when that country’s labour costs rise with increased sales and the market then looks elsewhere to source potatoes in another jurisdiction with lower labour costs? Then that exporting country loses jobs and experience to a lower cost country. An endless cycle of insatiable consumption. Better off sticking with home-grown produce from day one.
Difficult, uncomfortable questions. Why don’t people care more about where their food comes from? Is this recession being used as an excuse to offload inferior products to consumers under the auspices of ‘saving money’? Food is a building block of life. Build a house with bad blocks and you will have problems down the line…
Have we been bowed into submission by commercial organisations offering us value? Is cost the sole concern when making a purchase? What happens if you can actually source as good or better produce for ‘value’ prices, as Jamie Oliver showed with his series about school dinners in UK. Is your health your wealth? Is it? Uncomfortable questions.
When you go to your shop manager and ask him where he sources his food is it a comfortable conversation. Does he or she give you space for this chat? If not, why not? Difficult questions. Undoubtedly, some tell lies about sourcing their foods. While this is not really acceptable it is also a fact of life. It goes on. Actually, the only person who can influence that is YOU. Go out and ask where your food is from. If someone tells you it’s locally sourced, organic and special, ask to see a suppliers list. You are certainly not causing offence to any person who cares about what they do. If they do care. Difficult, uncomfortable questions.
If we care about this world and want to make a difference, we should start by looking at what we put in our mouths and bodies. Uncomfortable questions, yes, but perhaps not as uncomfortable as some of the answers.

One locally sourced product that should be easy to lay your hands on in Mayo is crab. Here are three easy ways to enjoy this tasty crustacean:

Summer spicy crab with butter beans and spring onion
Mix crab meat in bowl with juice of lemon, two thinly sliced spring onions, drop shelled beans in water for two minute, drain, add knob butter, add to mix and a dash Tabasco sauce for spikiness. Serve with toasted breads as starter or lunch. Garnish with watercress. Hey presto!

Courgette, fennel and crab salad
Slice two courgettes and fennel bulb as thinly as possible, drizzle with olive oil and the juice of one lemon, serve on bed of lettuce and season with salt and pepper. Add Tabasco for spiciness if you like.

Al dente penne pasta with crab
Al dente penne pasta, crab, bunch rocket, lemon and oil. That’s the recipe!