At a basic level, farmers produce inputs for the food manufacturing sector, which in turn produces foods.
We eat some of that food here, but the majority is exported. We do not produce all the food we need so we also import.
So, is a balanced diet achieved? In theory, yes. In practice, not so much!
When we want to change something in our lives we will often pick a temporal milestone for our ‘fresh start’
We can argue back and forth about what we could produce or should produce but currently this island predominantly produces protein in the form or meat and dairy products, albeit obviously from plants. However, these products do not fulfil our dietary requirements in isolation.
When we want to change something in our lives we will often pick a temporal milestone for our “fresh-start”. My interview with (former) Weight Watchers coach Caraldine Nolan caused me to reflect on the resolutions that many people make at this time of year, ie to improve their physical health.
Back in the heady, non-COVID-19 animated, early days of 2019, the then-Taoiseach Leo Varadkar caused absolute consternation when he said he was trying to eat less meat both for his health and for reasons of climate change.
Now to be fair to the people angered by this, it was a loose comment as it was not measureable. I argue that if Varadkar was eating a full Irish for breakfast, a chicken fillet roll for lunch and a steak for his dinner every day, then his comment was not only fair, it would be fully advisable to reduce intakes.
However, the level of meat consumption he was cutting back from was not quantified and therefore, the comment was something of a misnomer in terms of the potential benefits.
All humans are unique in their genetic make-up – taste, ethics, allergies and also, although not a human condition, socio-economic status. All impact on the food choices that people make
Food choices, weight and diet are difficult topics to discuss or write about as they are not clear-cut and there are no absolute rules that work for every person. All humans are unique in their genetic make-up – taste, ethics, allergies and also, although not a human condition, socio-economic status. All impact on the food choices that people make. “Fat” (or skinny) shaming can lead to considerable mental health challenges.
The long-running RTÉ show Operation Transformation has been beset by negative commentary this year
In this era of social media, where people are confronted with the (most often fake) perception of perfection every day, the conversation needs to be handled with sensitivity. The long-running RTÉ show Operation Transformation has been beset by negative commentary this year.
Eating disorders association, Bodywhys, has received correspondence from their service users in relation to the triggering impact of the show.
The success of the show is in how it has encouraged whole communities to get behind and support local leaders
The organisation recognises the positive objective of the programme but queries how effective the methods used in the show are for long lasting weight loss and health promotion.
The success of the show is in how it has encouraged whole communities to get behind and support local leaders, whom people identify more with than they would with a gym instructor. It is complex in that what is good for the goose is not always good for the gander.
A collaborative study undertaken in Ireland (Teagasc, IT Carlow, Waterford IT and University College Dublin) found that the diet of the male farmers surveyed contained inadequate fruit and vegetables, dairy products and fish.
While the food we produce in Ireland has well recognised health benefits, these nutrient-rich foods need to be consumed in combination with other food products. Don’t shoot the messenger.