The Great Outdoors Weekend Podcast

sodshow, garden podcast

The Sodshow Garden Podcast – every Friday – in iTunes, all good podcast stores.

Listen in MP3 format or – As always you can rss the podcasts via iTunes or you can subscribe to the blog and listen to them right here. Missed last weeks garden podcast ?

Got a note from bernie over the weekend:

That’s our boy @donegangardens easily cresting above yer man Ray Foley.

Seems the podcast hit number 2 in the popular charts on audioboo. Thanks for listening folks. Take notes Foley. 😉

In my green life:

My post this week questioning organic got me into a spot of bother [?]. No response yet from IOFGA, IFA, Bord Bia, Green Party….. not one. No one.

  • Continuing to crop my basil plants. Not using it. Freezing it. [image 1]
  • My currants. This much from 3 bushes. Great investment. [image 2]
  • Strawberry babies. Well baby plants 😉 free. [image 3]

  • My potatoes – almost there
  • Peach leaf curl – should have moved it 🙄
  • Onions – can’t wait for the red ones

Dates and Events:

  • The Achill Roar ? Saturday 11th September. know of a better way to see one of the most beautiful parts of Ireland ?
  • Ah Ballymun! You remember the fashion showcoultry park, how about the eco – store or Ballymun’s green map ? Now a new park is opening on the 14th July. The opening will have loads of activities on including puppet shows, dance displays, sports, eco activities, drama, tree trails and much more. Bring the family along. Well done Ballymun. You changed my mind some time ago 🙂
  • I’m speaking at the dot conf – book it while you can
  • Jason Roe. An avid gardener. Just jacked in the rat race. His plants missed him. BTW en route.


My Odd ball links:

  • Aparently I [also] look like Dermot Bannon. Leave it with you…. 😉

I like this raised bed. @irishhooligan made it to fit the ‘canvas’. He’s gonna grow veggies in it. Measures about 6′ x 4′ – love this sort of thing. Better than a woodees one ? I think so.


And on a nice note to finish via @whitespider. I like it. Reminded me of my Pop and the story of the blackbird that would tell him if I was bold 😉


A little birdy (found by my mum on my Nans window sill

Teaching Organic ?

An organic gardening programme is set to be rolled out by Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board across Irish schools. The problem is that it can’t really be organic. It can however be about growing and considering the earth and our actions. This is a programme that will include my child and yours and I personally am not sure I wish for her to be thought gardening under an organic label based on what I have unearthed.
The question further remains as to whether organic is actually better than ‘ordinary’ or home grown vegetables. The problem is the variance in beliefs of what organic actually is, the fact that legislation makes ordinary foods extremely safe to eat and the fact one can actually use chemicals and non-organic seed, yet still be labelled organic.
The Bord Bia slogan ‘organic – good for nature good for you’ has been ruled against in its using by the ASAI [advertising standards authority of Ireland]. However, the EU has a new ‘organic farming‘ slogan – ‘good for nature good for you’.
Ciaran Cuffe of The Green Party disagrees in commentary below.
update: I recorded this podcast Monday evening 12th July – as a result of the comments and responses to this post.


The following email hit my inbox today:



MAY 2010


Gorilla has just completed all audio post production for Bord Bia’s newly launched organic gardens DVD for primary schools across Ireland.

The DVD is an educational package that shows how pupils and teachers alike can convert their school grounds into organic gardens to grow their own vegetables! The DVD also explains some of the main benefits of eating organic food over processed food and moreover provides excellent opportunities for pupils to bring their learning outside of the classroom! The programme was shot over a 2-year period and includes 3 case studies in Dublin, Kildare and Ardee in Co Louth.

Then I did a bit of reading and found this from page 8 of the teaching resource that comes with the DVD:

Realise that synthetic fertilisers and pesticides are harmful and should be avoided if possible.

also on pg. 9:

Teachers Notes: Organic horticulture is the science and art of growing fruits, vegetables, flowers, or ornamental plants by following the essential principles of organic agriculture in soil building and conservation, pest management, weed, and disease control, and heritage species preservation.

It is a form of agriculture which excludes the use of synthetic fertilisers, pesticides, plant growth regulators, and genetically modified organisms. Organic gardeners rely on crop rotation, green manure, crop residue and compost to maintain soil productivity and control pests. It is an ideal way to teach children to respect the environment and introduce them and their families to healthy eating.

also the entire document is headed with the logo:

Organic: good for nature, good for you

Looks like someone is trying to convince the wee nippers that if something is organic its great!….it is of course as you know a little more complex than that (e.g. organic food imports etc, etc).

That aside this email had come in 2 days previous:

Bord Bia have just changed all their organic food logos on their website to a leaf, gone are the “organic : good for nature, good for you” logos…….maybe you could ask why the change?

But, you see this email had come two weeks ago:

was sent this…..looks like the misleading Bord Bia campaign cost 1 Million euro half of which was paid by the Irish public…….hardly money well spent

February 2009
Report by Simon Wright, Organic and Fair
…Lorcan Bourke of Bord Bia in Ireland explained how the the Irish Department of Agriculture funded half the campaign, allowing match-funding to obtained from the EU and giving a total budget of 1 million Euros. After consumer research the slogan chosen was ‘ Good For Nature, Good For You’ (see the campaign at ).

(bottom of page)

I had also received an email on May 18th. It was signed by the ASAI and noted that:

Subject: RE: Organic Food Claims

Bord Bia have agreed to withdraw the claim.

But as can be seen from the first page of Bord Bia’s schools education programme [above] it still exists.


I don’t hold issue with anyone who goes green or encourages others to do so, especially at such a young age. I applaud it. But like I have said previous – sometimes ‘organic’ has it’s pros and cons.

I felt/ feel the ‘organic issues raised in this superb shop‘ are still incorrect. Not balanced…. call it what you like – but not right when it seems all things organic are groovy [?].

I have spoke on the logic of growing your own before. That versus the fact that 99.9% [not a researched figure] of farmers do not use fertilisers on their potatoes, although they may not be certified organic…

The point that I make is that encouraging children is fine as long as logic applies. In context, I would rather my child chop an old [rotten looking] sprouting potato in half and plant it in the garden [using no compost] than drive to the garden centre to buy seed potato [possibly imported – from another county even] and organic compost – for organics sake.

In which case, I’d prefer my child, in primary school be thought ‘logic green gardening’ as versus ‘organic’ or not to be thought this subject.

To get a gist of what people believe organic is, I asked the following question[s] on twitter this evening: what do you believe organic means? The responses were as follows:

  • Grown naturally without man made pesticides & fertilisers
  • Grown from non-GM seeds, without use of chemical (man-made) pesticides, fertilizers etc. My take anyway.
  • fairly broadly i take it to mean non gm, and free from artificial fertilizers and pesticides.
  • organic is grown without herbicides, pesticides, fungicides etc. or if meat – no growth hormones on organic feed
  • Grown sustainable without pesticides or herbicides in soil which is free of both substances at least for 8 years. No artificial fertilizer!
  • organic: not reared with, or on, land where artificial fertilisers are used.

I then asked: which is better. Locally produced/ grown veg or organic ? The reponses were as follows:

  • 1. Both. 2. Local. 3. Organic.
  • that depends on how you define better, organics flown half way round the world not great ecologically but Irish bananas prolly not great 🙂
  • locally produced
  • I prioritise fresh produce, which more often than not means local as the time betw farm & shop is shorter, but believe organic is best.

To that I note these forms where one can apply to be able use certain chemicals – yet still be labelled organic.

The numbers of those granted such derogation are not published. The derogations that can be applied for can include the use of non-organic seed and copper sulphate [for example].

In search of a definition of organic…. I went [back] to the Irish Organic Farmers and Growers Association Website

What Is Organic Food?

Organic food carrying the IOFGA logo has been produced to the highest standards. It is produced according to organic farming principles which are committed to working in harmony with nature rather than against nature. Organic farming works within the natural confines of the farming eco-system to provide you with great tasting food!

In practice organic farming;

  • Avoids the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides
  • Requires the highest standards of animal welfare
  • Does not permit the use of genetically modified organisms
  • Uses less fossil fuel energy per calorie of food produced
  • Protects our biodiversity by maintaining suitable habitats for plants, animals and wildlife
  • Encourages people to buy their food locally and in season

When you see the IOFGA logo on organic food you can guarantee that this product has been inspected and approved to meet the organic standards. Organic farming in Ireland is the one system of farming which is fully certified and regulated and we in IOFGA are proud to see so many high quality products carry our logo.

But the reality is one can apply to use chemicals…. right ? I would also point to the 10 reasons IOFGA give as to why one should buy organic food. I’ll skip straight to point 10

10. Good for nature, Good for you

Which I assume they also are not allowed to say [?]. I also still do not know exactly by definition/ legislation from either sites what organic is.

It seems there is vagueness in what organic actually is [exactly] and more-so to that people’s understanding of. The argument as to whether it’s better to balance the books [so to speak] is [pardon the pun] simply more food for thought. ie. whether it’s better to shop local as versus organic and not necessarily local. There is also a point where from a marketing perspective that organic labelling does sell [see above compost image]. Even the farmers markets in Ireland have their flaws as I discussed in my last post. The question I guess still remains of what methodology is better and also from an educational point the information that is being thought.

Maybe Green Party minister Trevor Sargeant has the right idea….? But then he is wearing a GIY t-shirt. Grow it yourself that is. Not organic. Big difference.

UPDATE: 7th July 2010

The above podcast replaces this one.

Also this Organic leaflet 2010 Food Safety Authority of Ireland seems logic enough. Although still lacking definitions in my opinon.

Bord Bia and the IOFGA have been informed of this post.

UPDATE: 9th July 2010

Got this from Ciaran Cuffe of The Green Party

which is headed with this logo and slogan [see below]. I’m confused – Bord Bia cannot use the same slogan as the EU can a similar slogan… On second look, the EU have used the word ‘farming’ ? Cheeky 😉

I have emailed this to the ASAI [advertising standards authority of Ireland]


Donegan Wins Landscape Quality Award For 2010


February 26th 2010.

Peter Donegan Landscaping Ltd has achieved the Bord Bia Quality Award.

The assessment for this award is through a stringently audited programme that was designed to raise standards within the landscape industry and increase customer confidence by rewarding companies who operate an awarded quality system through best practice and at the highest standards possible to this sector of the horticultural industry.

In 2009 the Landscape Quality Award had only been achieved by eight companies in Ireland. There are two award levels on both programmes; a Certificate of Merit (60% score) and the Quality Award (75% score). This is my third consecutive year to accept the Quality Award.

On winning the award Peter Donegan said:

I am delighted to win this award. I am now starting my 10th year in business and this now is recognition that a quality system is in place behind the scenes as well an already proven ability to design and landscape.

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national organic awards & week

with all this talk of the FSA reports, Richard Corrigan talking about putting peoples heads in deep fat fryers – funny thing is its all just a big mix up 🙄 still, nice while the press and pr train rolled once again 😉

That said Richard also dislikes Bord Bia who once again will run national organic week and the national organic awards…. eh…..?

news just in: pesticides found in organic food ?!!!

ah sure if its not eggs its pigs….. or is it vegetables…. ?!!

After you play a quick game of pictionary…. scroll down for more details on national organic week and the national organic awards.

One of the Judges is Darren Grant of the organic superstore 😉

National Organic Week 14th – 20th September 2009.

funded by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and co-ordinated by Bord Bia, aims to raise consumer awareness of organic food, how to recognise it when shopping and where to buy  the freshest produce sourced in your local region.

Throughout the week consumers will be encouraged to look out for events taking place in their local areas which will be taking place all over the country to celebrate National Organic Week from farm walks to food tasting. It promises to be a great week.

Now in their 3rd year The National Organic Awards are recognised as an important feature of the organic food and drink Industry and Bord Bia would like to invite organic product entries in the National Organic Awards 2009.

final entries August 21st!!

for more info on the national organic awards – click here

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organic non organic is better for you ….?

what the....?

what the....?

There was at one point in the past rumours that ‘dirty’ vegetables sold better than clean ones. Not necessarily ‘better grown’ – just dirty.

There was also a point where unwashed vegetables were sold cheaper than washed. But I remember 15 years ago in college and walking the vegetable house grading floors…. the white ended species [eg. leeks] were bleached to make them ‘more white’.  The carrots, if in any way ‘deformed’ were either second classed or trailers appeared and they were used for cattle feed……

Then one day organic came to town…. people became a little more green and the books and tv shows hopped off the shelves. A bandwagon certainly started to roll. It didn’t just stop at vegetables.

Yesterday the UK Food Standards Agency came out with this report:

An independent review commissioned by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) shows that there are no important differences in the nutrition content, or any additional health benefits, of organic food when compared with conventionally produced food.

this is the bit I like:

Gill Fine, FSA Director of Consumer Choice and Dietary Health, said: ‘Ensuring people have accurate information is absolutely essential in allowing us all to make informed choices about the food we eat. This study does not mean that people should not eat organic food. What it shows is that there is little, if any, nutritional difference between organic and conventionally produced food and that there is no evidence of additional health benefits from eating organic food.

you can read more here at their website. Tom Doorley has his views on it here. But then maybe we just don’t know enough about the ‘entire’ organic gig.

I mean what is the actual difference between an organic chicken and a non organic one. At least we know that we don’t like genetically modified food. right ?

Back to the vegetables…. I guess it is a case now of what do you think? In my opinion and as I have said so many times before…. unfortunately very few of us in Ireland have or know the legal definition of what exactly organic is…. Until then maybe it’s a matter of perception or [pardon the cliché] taste…….. ?

what do you think....?

what do you think....?

I asked for a comment this from Bord Bia. This is what I was sent:

while much debate occurs on the health benefits of organic food, the one certainty relates back to the organic certification standards, which prohibit the use of many chemicals and additives, while including additional environmental and animal welfare standards. Bord Bia research has shown it is the perceived health benefits of organic food, conferred through its ‘free from’ status, that are most important to Irish consumers. Seventy three percent of those surveyed stated “not having added chemicals or pesticides” as the main benefit of buying organic food.”

Source: TNS MRBI, August 2008


I don’t know who Joanna Blythmans editor is at The Mail Online – But you have some serious answering to do. The most rediculous article I have ever seen written with zero research done. I wonder if Joanna actually read the report at all.

If you have read the FSA website quotes that I give. You may be surprised by this excerpt [may favourite! ] from Joanna’s.

The latest assault in this propaganda exercise comes from the Food Standards Agency, the government’s so-called independent watchdog, which has just published a report claiming that there is no nutritional benefit to be gained from eating organic produce.

Never mind her little piggy pictures…. I thought we were talking about vegetables. Propaganda? Try research. And factual information. Mail Online you should be ashamed. You had it all in your court – you simply pulled out a hurley instead of a tennis racket.

On behalf of myself as a grow your own-er tree hugging geek – I would like to apologise to all you chemical lovers out there. If it was George Bush you’d understand. 🙄 sorry.

UPDATE: tuesday 4th august

and it seems Richard Corrigan has jumped on the PR banwagon once again – except Richard use vulgar language to get his point across. I suppose if it gets the media attention for you….?

But then this is the 2nd times online has reported this…..? Maybe he just read the article I noted above…. ? Once again they didn’t say that Richard.

Sunday Times [Irish edition], 2 August 2009. By Gabrielle
Richard Corrigan, the celebrity TV chef and owner of
Bentley’s Oyster Bar and Grill in Dublin, has branded a
report dismissing the benefits of organic food as “lazy
research” by a “bunch of lazy nine-to-five f**kers”.

An independent report commissioned by Britain’s Food
Standards Agency (FSA) released last week concluded that
eating organic food does not provide any significant
nutritional or health benefits.

A team of researchers at the London School of Hygiene and
Tropical Medicine reached its conclusion by reviewing all
papers published over the last 50 years relating to nutrient
content and health differences between the kinds of produce.

Corrigan, who bought Bentley’s in London in 2005 and last
year opened Corrigan’s Mayfair, said he was puzzled by the
agency’s decision to examine the nutrition and health
benefits of organic food without taking into account the
wider effect of pesticides and hormones used in intensive
farming. For that reason alone, advocates say, organic is

“It’s the laziest research in the world because nobody ever
said that organic food was more nutritious,” the
restaurateur told The Sunday Times. “This bunch of lazy
nine-to-five f**kers just took any topic to justify their
existence before going off on holidays.”

The chef, who previously ruffled the poultry industry’s
feathers by dismissing standard Irish chicken as “muck and
crap”, has some suggestions for the researchers.

“Why doesn’t the Food Standards Agency ask how we can get GM
and pesticides and antibiotics out of the food chain? Why
don’t they look at why we have chemicals in the soil? Nobody
has ever bloody said that organic food is more nutritious.
We all know keeping pesticides out of the food chain is
better for your health.

“And as a professional who has been cooking food for 33
years, I can tell you anyone who says organic food tastes
worse than the stuff you get on a supermarket shelf needs to
put his head in my deep-fat fryer.”

The Irish Organic Farmers and Growers Association also
criticised the British report, albeit in more subdued tones.
It faulted the researchers for not including in the review a
study carried out at Newcastle University in 2008 that
discovered that there were more antioxidants and vitamins in
organic vegetables than non-organic ones.

That report, entitled Quality Low Input Food, was carried
out by 31 research institutes and universities throughout

It also showed that there was more Omega 3 in organic dairy
products than those which were non-organic.

The growers’ association pointed out, though, that nutrition
was not the only reason why people eat organic food, citing
benefits such as the absence of pesticide residues.

Trevor Sargent, the minister of state for food and
horticulture, last week said he had ordered a review of
Ireland’s organic farming sector and that the outcome would
be announced during National Organic Week in September.

The report will examine how available funds can be used to
reach the government’s target of using 5% of agricultural
land for organic farming. About 1% of agricultural land in

UPDATE: wednesday 5th august

from gm watchthis is probably the most logic quote I have seen and heard sice the FSA gave their findings. One must appreciate that all their report really did was compare nutritional value. It did not say one was better than the other…. it did not compare methods farming practices.

Geoffrey Lean
Daily Telegraph, 31 July 2009

*The FSA ignored pesticides, the main health issue, in its report on organic food, says Geoffrey Lean.

UPDATE wednesday 5th August ’09

pesticides found in organic foods report the EFSA – that be the european food safety authority…..

not again Richard…… ?

and moving swiftly onwards….. well kind of

National Organic week and awards – you’ll enjoy this one 😆

UPDATE: thursday 6th August ’09

do note that on their website – the soil asociation say that this is what the FSA ‘failed to address’ – my point exactly. 

from the UK soil association 29 July 2009

Soil Association response to the Food Standards Agency’s Organic Review

Responding to today’s review on organic food commissioned by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), Peter Melchett, Policy Director at the Soil Association commented:
“We are disappointed in the conclusions the researchers have reached. The review rejected almost all of the existing studies of comparisons between organic and non-organic nutritional differences. This was because these studies did not meet particular criteria fixed by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, which carried out the review.

“Although the researchers say that the differences between organic and non-organic food are not ‘important’, due to the relatively few studies, they report in their analysis that there are higher levels of beneficial nutrients in organic compared to non-organic foods. For example, the mean positive difference between the following nutrients, when comparing organic to non-organic food, was found in the FSA study to be:

– Protein 12.7%
– Beta-carotene 53.6%
– Flavonoids 38.4%
– Copper 8.3%
– Magnesium 7.1%
– Phosphorous 6%
– Potassium 2.5%
– Sodium 8.7%
– Sulphur 10.5%
– Zinc 11.3%
– Phenolic compounds 13.2%

The researchers also found higher levels of beneficial polyunsaturated fatty acids in organic meat and dairy products (between 2.1% – 27.8% higher) compared to non-organic meat and dairy.
The Soil Association is also disappointed that the FSA failed to include the results of a major European Union-funded study involving 31 research and university institutes and the publication, so far, of more than 100 scientific papers, at a cost of 18million Euros, which ended in April this year [1].

The European Union research programme concluded that:

  • ‘Levels of a range of nutritionally desirable compounds (e.g. antioxidants, vitamins, glycosinolates) were shown to be higher in organic crops’
  • ‘Levels of nutritionally undesirable compounds (e.g. mycotoxins, glycoalkaloids, Cadmium and Nickel) were shown to be lower in organic crops’.

In addition, levels of fatty acids, such as CLA and omega 3 were between 10 – 60% higher in organic milk and dairy products, and levels of Vitamin C were up to 90% higher in leafy vegetables and fruits.

There are limited studies available on the health benefits of organic versus non-organic food. Without large-scale, longitudinal research it is difficult to come to far-reaching clear conclusions on this, which was acknowledged by the authors of the FSA review.

Also, there is not sufficient research on the long-term effects of pesticides on human health.
In 2006 the European Commission said that “long-term exposure to pesticides can lead to serious disturbances to the immune system, sexual disorders, cancers, sterility, birth defects, damage to the nervous system and genetic damage.”

Organic farming and food systems are holistic, and are produced to work with nature rather than to rely on oil-based inputs such as fertilisers. Consumers who purchase organic products are not just buying food which has not been covered in pesticides (the average apple may be sprayed up to 16 times with as many as 30 different pesticides) they are supporting a system that has the highest welfare standards for animals, bans routine use of antibiotics and increases wildlife on farms. [2]

Notes to editors:
[1] The study was part of QualityLowInputFood (QLIF), which was an integrated project funded by the European Commission.

[2] Soil Association website


courtesy of Amy at the huffington post – thanks Amy 😉 these 2 articles

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