How much do we think about what we put in our shopping trolleys and do we realise the impact we can have when we pick up a bag of carrots? By checking the label and choosing Irish produce you can support Irish farmers, reduce food miles, lower your impact on the environment and provide jobs to your family, neighbours and friends.

The big Christmas shop sees the house filled with plenty of tasty food and treats and it’s an ideal time to support Irish farmers. Aside from the extra tins of sweets and treats, there is the matter of Christmas dinner and this is one place where you can fill the plates with Irish produce.

Here at IFJ Junior we’ve prepared some tips to shop sustainably and support local this Christmas and all year around. So when you see the reusable bags going out to the car or the laptop coming out to do the shop online you can help to shop sustainably and support local.

Taking a few seconds to look at a label can be the difference between keeping an Irish farm in business or not. Keeping Irish farms in business also brings business to local shops and helps to keep rural Ireland vibrant and parishes fielding full football and camogie teams. Here are some tips on how to support Irish.

Check the origin

The label will tell you what country the produce came from. If it is an Irish product, it will often tell you the grower and the county of origin.

Leeks clearly marked with the country of origin and the grower's name.

Is there a grower or producer’s name on the product?

Many Irish products, particularly fruit, vegetables and potatoes – and some meat – will name the grower or the producer. Some products will have a grower or producer number.

If you look at enough labels you will probably find some producers who live locally to you and who are employing some people you know or you might see that grower in the local shop supporting other jobs.

Look for the Bord Bia logo

Bord Bia’s quality assurance logo has an Irish flag as well as a quality assurance mark. If you are buying one of these products the farm where the produce came from is being inspected regularly and is keeping high standards on record keeping and animal welfare to name but a few parameters.

Look out for products in disguise

There are many products out there which have an Irish flag or a name that sounds like it might be Irish but are not, so check the country of origin, don’t assume that an Irish flag means the product was produced in Ireland.

Think about the farmer behind the label

In the Irish Farmers Journal we meet farmers every day who produce the food on our plates. Margins are tight on many of these farms and ensuring that you pick up the broccoli from Ireland rather than Spain will help to keep that farmer in business, not to mind the food miles which it cuts down on.

The Irish Farmers Journal met Tim Davies back in September. He is the farm manager for Leo Dunne Ltd in Durrow, Co. Laois.

In September we met Tim Davies. Tim is a farm manager for Leo Dunne Ltd in Durrow, Co Laois. The label in the picture shows Leo’s name on a bag of carrots.

When we met Tim we saw firsthand the hard work and investment needed to produce vegetables in Ireland. A large number of people are employed on the farm. To give you an idea of numbers the farm recently purchased a bed weeder which can hold 15 people at a time, who all hand weed the crop of organic carrots. However, in the supermarket there will most likely be imported product beside that Irish product and shoppers can choose to support Irish farmers by taking a second to look at the label. Picking up the imported product will not provide employment in your local area and in turn will not provide business for your local shop at breakfast or lunch time and then that local shop might not be in a financial position to sponsor the local football club. Taking a second to check a label can make a big difference. You can watch a video of potatoes being harvested in Co Laois and learn more about growing vegetables in Ireland here.