Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Feelgood Organic Hampers is For Sale

Hello everyone.  It seems like a long time ago that I last tapped the keyboard for Organic Yum Yum and some of you must have been wondering what had happened so here's the story.

Last September I set up a new Business 'Spiderworking.com' helping small businesses drive traffic to their websites and promote their brand online using social media.  By January it became clear that running the two businesses together was too much for one person (even superwoman) and it's really taken me this long to realise, or accept that Feelgood Hampers would have to go.

I love running the new business and I'm continuing to live the goodlife, although the garden is a bit less productive this year.  I'm even able to be a bit more eco friendly, as I don't need to take a hamper everywhere I am able to utilise public transport a lot more.  In fact I'm on a train writing this at the moment.

But enough about me!  Feelgood Organic Hampers is for sale.  I'm not looking for big money but I think it would be a shame to see the brand die so if your interested please get in touch. All my contact details are on the new website: www.spiderworking.com

Monday, 14 December 2009

Recipe - A Vegan Christmas - Lentil Loaf

This month our recipe of the month featured an ideal Christmas Dinner for a vegetarian.  But if you have a Vegan coming to dinner don't panic!  Organic Yum-Yum is here to help with this delicious and easy to make lentil loaf.


A handful of mixed seeds 
250g green or brown lentils
hot vegetable stock 
2 bay leaves
1 clove of garlic crushed
1 tsp ground sea salt
4 shallots finely chopped
2 thick slices of bread made into breadcrumbs
1/2 a tin of tomatoes blended until smooth
2 tbsp mixed fresh herbs
A handful of mixed seeds
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. 


Pre heat the oven at 180C, 350F or Gas Mark 4

Line a loaf tin with parchment paper and grease with vegan margarine.

Sprinkle the base of the tin with the mixed seeds until it is covered. 

Wash the lentils and then place in a saucepan with the bay leaves and garlic, cover with hot vegetable stock and simmer until tender.  This can take between 20 and 30 minutes. A few minutes before the end of the cooking time add the salt.

Drain the lentils and mix in the remainder of the ingredients.  If the mixture is too moist add more breadcrumbs, if it is too dry add more tomatoes. Season to taste.

Press the mixture into the loaf tin and bake in the oven for an hour. 

Allow to cool for 15 minutes and turn out onto a serving dish. 

Organic Yum-Yum will be back in January.  

From all of us at Feelgood Organic Hampers have a great Christmas and New Year.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Green Gifts for Christmas


OK so it is possible that you may want to buy people something as well as a Feelgood Organic Hamper for Christmas! But don't forget that last orders for Christmas delivery are only 12 days away on Sunday 20th December at midnight.  Don't miss out!

 After you have placed your order with us here's some other great green gifts you could buy.

There are 4 days left to get a gift from organic t-shirt company 'Hairy Baby'. Great t-shirts with very Irish slogans, you can even have a CSI hoodie or t-shirt made with the name of your town on it.  I know someone who might like a CSI Athy shirt.

The Cultivate Centre in Dublin City Centre has lots of great gift ideas from books to eco-gadgets.  You can pop in or shop online.

The Arboretum Life & Garden Centre in Carlow offers trees delivered to your door.
Or if you prefer you can have a tree planted on your behalf by the WWF.

Another Carlow based company Greenside Up are offering gift vouchers for their gardening courses and design services.

Although not based in Ireland a special mention has to go to Who Made Your Pants one of the most ethical companies I've ever come across.  These ethically produced knickers would make an ideal gift for me (hint hint!). 

And finally gift vouchers for interior design by Earth Balance Interiors.

If I've missed out on any great green gifts I'd love to hear your suggestions.  Please leave a comment below.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Focus on Organic Choice -producers of our organic Christmas cake

There is something special about a Christmas Cake, it's the only time of the year that I really indulge in fruit cake so a good rich moist slice of it always brings back memories of pine needles and excitement from my Christmas Past.

For this reason I was delighted to take on new Irish supplier 'Organic Choice' to provide us with our luxury Christmas cakes.  Topped with toasted marzipan they not only taste fantastic but they look great on the Christmas table.

Marion Hearne founded Organic Choice after discovering she had a wheat allergy.  Having a sweet tooth and being a keen baker she looked for an alternative to the regular wheat flour, eventually settling on spelt.  The results were popular with her husband and friends who thought the cakes tasted, not just as good as her previous cakes, but even better.

Encouraged by the reaction she completed a course at the Cooks Academy and Organic Choice was born.  All her cakes are handmade and certified organic.

Marion's 'grab and go' Dark Chocolate and Almond cake was highly commended at the National Organic Awards earlier this year.

I'm delighted that we are able to offer her cakes as part of our new gift collection but be warned we only have a few in stock so make sure you place your orders well in advance to avoid disappointment.

Click here to buy online.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

All about our packaging

At Feelgood Organic Hampers one of the most common questions we are asked by our customers is how do we package our hampers?  So today I thought I would show off our gift boxes and tell you why we chose this particular solution.

Just over 4 years ago when I started Feelgood Organic Hampers I started looking around for baskets to pack them in.  Up until this point my image of a hamper was a basket packed with produce wrapped in cellophane but I knew I wanted to do something different for my company.  I wanted something that would stand out, that would ensure that recipients of the gift would remember this hamper and the person who sent it.  I also wanted something that would enhance our brand and promote our eco-friendly and ethical ethos.

I looked at lots of different baskets, some were inexpensive made in India and China, both the air miles associated with these and ethical concerns I would have about the conditions in the factories where they were made meant that they were not an option.  Some were beautifully crafted and Irish made but sadly beyond the price I was able to pay for packaging.  My market research had also flagged that baskets were not popular with people who received hampers, they complained, that amongst other things they caused clutter in their homes.  So my next step was to look at gift boxes, packaging that could be recycled.  Again I looked at all the major suppliers in Ireland, I visited packaging companies, met salespeople and eventually, with the help of our company's designer Francis Taaffe came up with a solution that fulfilled the brief.  A box which mimicked the brown paper and string style of packaging, a design which evoked nostalgia, packaging which could be recycled.  Each box is tied with string and a tag and hand stamped with the company logo.

The box has worked really well for us, it has enhanced our brand by making it memorable, it's also memorable to the gifts recipients which means our clients are happy.

Because the boxes are mostly made in Ireland, because they can be reused and recycled, because they contain recycled material this is packaging you can feelgood about.

Customised Gift Boxes

We offer corporate clients the opportunity to customise their gift boxes by replacing the Feelgood Organic Hampers logo with their company logo.

If you are interested in customising a Feelgood Organic Hamper for your company contact us through our website or phone us on 059 863 899.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Can direct action cure green fatigue?

Today is blog action day.  Around the world bloggers are coming together to blog on one topic: climate change.

Thinking about what I would write about today I decided that I wouldn't write about the little things we can all do in our everyday life that can help guard against the onset of climate change.  I didn't want to become another of those droning voices that have started to repel rather than encourage people to become more eco-conscious.  For years we've been told to recycle our rubbish, not fly anywhere, take public transport, use energy saving bulbs, eat local and organic food and many of us have dutifully followed.  Every day we get new tips on how we can help and we embrace them mostly without complaint.  Some of us may have even experienced the guilt of having to purchase a plastic bag at the checkout because we have forgotten to bring our own.  For many of us 'being green' is part of our everyday lives but for others the fatigue has started to creep in.

Green fatigue is a worrying yet understandable phenomenon.  People feel they are making day-to-day sacrifices but no longer seem to believe they are truly making a difference.  People see others not making any effort to curb their carbon emitting habits and loose the will to try and do something themselves.  Some people feel that it is the governments that are letting them down, their personal effort seems to pale into insignificance when their leaders are still proposing new coal burning power stations like the one at Kingsnorth which was the centre of last years UK climate camp.

Some feel big businesses are stopping governments making the right decisions for the environment.  I've talked to people who simply can't understand why big petrol thirsty cars are still being made.  Is it enough that the consumer wants them, or should the government just legislate against them?  Here in Ireland we have raised taxes on these vehicles but surely it would be a better solution to stop making them? Is capitalism ultimately killing the planet? 

So what is the solution?

Many think that direct action is the only way to mobilise enough power to force governments to change their minds.  This week we saw Greenpeace scale the Houses of Parliament in London in a call to make the government live up to their responsibilities and put climate change on the top of the agenda.  They received massive publicity for their efforts appearing on all the major news bulletins and in the newspapers.  Earlier this year we saw Ireland's first Climate Camp focusing to the peat burning power station in Shannonbridge Co. Offaly.  They also drew a lot of press attention to an issue that many of us in Ireland are ignorant of.  But can such direct action really make a difference beyond awareness raising?

I'd like to thing that tentatively yes they can.  In 2008 Camp for Climate Action in the UK camped out at the Kingsnorth Power Station in Kent.  The coal burning station was due to be closed down in 2016 to conform to EU pollution regulations but there were plans to replace it with yet another coal fired power station.   The new facility was heralded to be a cleaner coal burning station, it was to be 'capture ready', a term that incensed many as the technology involved in capturing carbon and storing it is still in it's infancy and comes with it's own set of problems.  The protesters believed, and many agreed that there should simply be no more coal burning stations built, instead they believe more money needs to be put into cleaner and renewable fuels, some would even be happier to see the nuclear option than more coal.

The camp became big news, not just because of the direct action but also because of the behavior of the police during the camp.  This week demonstrators will be celebrating a cautious victory as plans for the new station have been put on hold.

So is this a case where direct action has had a positive effect on climate change?  I would like to think so, I would like to believe that there is more I can do than cycling and recycling that has the potential to make a difference.  It could also be a way to curb our green fatigue.  This past 12 months has shown that we are not scared of standing up to our government, and we have achieved success with policy u-turns on issues such as medical cards for pensioners.  Direct action is something we can all take part in and it will also give us back the belief that there is something positive we can do.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Why Feelgood Organic Hampers for Corporate gifts?

Today I realised I had been blogging for over two years yet hadn't told you why a Feelgood Organic Hamper is a perfect gift, what makes us tick, what our aims are.

We believe our job at Feelgood organic hampers is all about giving people the feelgood factor. 
  • We can help you make your clients and customers Feelgood
  • We can help you make your staff Feelgood
  • We can help you make your friends and family Feelgood
  • Best of all we can give you that feelgood feeling which only comes from giving a special and appreciated gift.
  • We help our suppliers feel good by supporting small local artisan producers as much as possible.
  • We endevour to source fairtrade products which make workers in the developing world feelgood.
  • Everything we sell is organic which means we make the earth feel good.

How can all this good Karma rub off on you and your business?

If your in business ask yourself:

Do you value repeat custom? 
Of course you do!  When a client or customer gets a gift from you it could be the one thing that makes them pick up that phone and place an order.  I have sent out small gifts to clients and potential clients and have received emails, phone calls and orders virtually immediately. For the people that weren’t ready to order at that exact moment, the gift made it a lot easier for me to talk to the right person the next time I called.

By showing your customers that you value them you are inspiring loyalty.

Do you value word of mouth?
Of course you do! An improptu gift can become a talking point. When you finish a contract with someone, leave a gift behind as a surprise, soon enough they will be talking about you and the surprise gift you left them.

Do you want to improve staff morale?
In the current climate it is easy for staff to feel deflated, many are just waiting to hear bad news and a deflated staff is an inefficient staff.  To combat this run a competition, set a target and offer rewards to the winners.

We can work on a gift solution for you from as little at €5 which could cause that customer to pick up the phone again,
That could cause that customer to tell their friends about you.
That could make your staff member work extra hard to be rewarded.

If your not in business and just want to buy someone a great gift:

You can choose from our range of hampers online or we can tailor a gift to your specific needs.  We offer delivery throughout Europe.  Order online or call us on +353 (0) 59 863 8999 or contact us through our website: www.feelgoodhampers.com

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

My name in lights - Feelgood Organic Hampers first video.

We've just made our first video starring... Me! I promise not to get all big headed and abandon my friends!

It's produced by Hedgehog Productions and is designed to promote the newest hamper in the Feelgood Organic Hampers range: "The Snack In A Box"

Keep an eye on our brand new YouTube channel for further videos.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Recipe - Blackberry Fool

It's been very difficult to choose a recipe of the month for September. There is so much in season and I found it hard to choose between two of my favorites, blackberries and mushrooms. In the end I plumped for blackberries as there seems to be a never-ending supply of them at the moment. After much experimenting I came up with two mouthwatering desserts, both different and both deserving of the September slot. The solution was to give one to Organic Yum-Yum and one to the recipe of the month. So for blog readers here's my Blackberry Fool.

If you would like the second recipe 'Blackberry Cranachan' sign up to our mailing list on the right hand side of this page.

  • 300g Blackberries
  • 75g Sugar
  • 125ml Cream
  • 50g Marscapone

  • Reserve a handful of berries for the garnish and puree the rest with the sugar in a blender until smooth.
  • Push the mixture through a sieve to remove all the seeds
  • Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks, take care not to over-whip.
  • Soften the Marscapone and whip into the cream, again take care not to over-whip, if you find the mixture is too thick add some extra cream.
  • Stir in the blackberry puree mixture, reserving approximately a third of it for garnish.
  • Place a few blackberries in the base of 4 wine glasses, layer in the cream mixture keeping a little back for decoration.
  • Top with the left over puree.
  • Place a dollop of the cream mixture to the top of the puree and top with the rest of the blackberries.
  • Refrigerate for at least two hours.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Regaining the Freedom of Dublin on two wheels.

As anyone who knows me will know I have been slightly overexcited about the new Dublin bikes scheme. I moved from Dublin just over 3 years ago and really have missed cycling around the city so I signed up for the scheme at the first available opportunity. Last week I had several meetings scheduled across the city and was really looking forward to trying them out. It was the day after the Luas/Bus crash so my tram in from the Red Cow park and ride was only running as far as Smithfield. Luckily there is a bike station right next to the Luas station there.

So I picked up a bike and was able to complete my journey to Connolly Station on two wheels. The bikes themselves are quite bulky and heavy, there is a largish basket on the front which is handy, it also has some sort of security lock on it that you can thread through the handles of your bags so that no one can snatch it when you're stopped at the lights. The handlebars seemed strangely thin, in fact they surprised me with their thinness every time I got on one. I felt steadier on this bike than my own, possibly due to it's sturdiness and weight, this is not a bike you would want to cycle long distances on but is perfect for short city trips. There are only three gears and they are all pretty easy to pedal in. During my whole day I only felt a need to change down to second one time. This also means that you can't go that fast and you will need to get used to other cyclists overtaking you.

My second journey between Baggot Street and the IFSC was great, usually you would either need to get a bus into town and a Luas out to the IFSC or walk which takes quite a while. I was at the IFSC in about 15 minutes and had plenty of time for coffee before my meeting. It was dark for my return journey, the bikes have built in lights which come on automatically as soon as you pick them up but I did feel that as I was wearing dark clothes my visibility wasn't the best. Next time I'll be sure to remember my fluorescent vest. I was quite chuffed to hear some pedestrians making comment on the bike as I cycled past, apparently they are 'quite cool' I like to think that I looked pretty cool cycling it as well!

My last journey of the day was back to the Luas. The Internet told me that trams were still only running from Smithfield so I cycled up there only to find the bike station full. I checked their computer which gave me another 20 minutes of free cycling time but I must have read it wrong as when I arrived at the next station it too was full. Third time I was lucky and finally managed to get a spot at Jervis Street. Luckily the Internet had been lying and trams were running the full route again so I was able to hop on a Luas almost immediately.

I was pretty happy with the experience and I'll definitely be using them a lot more. There are a few disadvantages that are worth a mention.

1. Bring your own safety equipment. As I mentioned fluorescent vests and cycle helmets aren't provided. It would also be a good idea to bring a quality bike lock if you need to stop your journey at any point. Cycle clips are not required, as I discovered after cycling around with my trousers rolled up for half a day, there is a very good chain guard provided so there is no chance of getting your boot cuts caught up.

2. Check the availability of parking space at your destination before leaving. The bike stations have a display of what spaces are available at what stations across the city. If I hadn't found a space at Jervis centre I could have had to face a cycle back up the very steep hill next to Christchurch so checking where to park in advance of my journey would have been a good idea. The council moves the bikes during the day to ensure maximum availability but by 9.30pm they had obviously stopped this service, there were only two bikes to hire at Wilton Terrace and as I mentioned the stations at my destination were full. If you have an iPhone or similar there is a handy app which allows you to access information whilst on the road. Find it here.

3. One way systems. Bring a city street guide with you so you can make sense of how to get around the one ways. I'm used to navigating the city by foot so I found myself scuppered by one way streets a number of times.

You can buy a one year subscription to Dublin bikes online for €10 or, if you are in Dublin and fancy giving it a go right now you can get a three day subscription for €2. For full information check out the DublinBikes.ie website.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Organic Week - What to do today 19th September 2009

National Organic Week draws to a close this weekend, it's been one of the busiest and best that I can remember with a wide variety of events happening all over the country. If you attended one of the events let us know, we'd love to hear about your experience.

Today is the busiest day yet:

Carlow Farmers Market is having a spit roast barbecue, if it's anything like the one at the Slow Food stand at the Electric Picnic it should be worth visiting (being a vegetarian I didn't get to try it myself but all reports were good).

At the Wild Honey Inn in Lisdoonvarna, Co. Clare there is the Clare and South Galway Organic Producers event.

The Dublin Food Co-op hosts a cookery demo with Chef Marc Moissard and Organic Wine and local cheese tasting from Moon shine dairy farm.

The Shanakill/Rahoonane Community Organic Garden in Tralee, Co. Kerry has it's annual Harvest Fair.

At Moyleabbey Organic Farm, Ballitore, Co. Kildare there is a Healthy Eating Workshop.

Also in Kildare at Castlefarm, Athy there is an organic Farm Walk and vegetable harvesting as well as an organic cooking demonstration.

Sligo Farmers market has a Cookery Demonstration and tasting featuring recipes from 'The Seaweed Kitchen'.

James Whelan Butchers in The Oakville Shopping Centre, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary are hosting an organic barbecue.

Another barbecue in Clonmel, this time provided by Omega Beef at Clonmel Farmers Market.

For a full listing of events check out the Bord Bia website.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Organic Week - What to do today 18th September 2009

Only 3 days left to celebrate national organic week. Here's a run down of some of today's events:

At 2pm today the Wexford Organic Centre are having a farm walk so get your wellies on!

Blastra Wholefoods in Dungarvan, Co. Waterford continue their organic food tastings as does New Vistas Healthcare in the Crescent Shopping Centre, Limerick, The Organic Supermarket in Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ecologic in Windy Arbour, Dundrum and Cavistons in Sandycove.

In 'The Kitchen', Hynds Square, Portlaoise they will have organic produce on the menu and cookery demonstrations.

It's also your final day to grab a free organic yogurt from Glenisk at your local Dart station if your in Dublin or at your local supplier countrywide.

For a full list of events near you check out the Bord Bia website.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Organic Week - What to do today 17th September 2009

It's another busy day with plenty to do to celebrate National Organic Week.

If you haven't tried the fabulous Inagh Farmhouse Cheese and you happen to be in or passing through Co. Clare, drop in for their Farm Open Day and Organic Cheese Tasting.

In Clonakilty, Co. Cork. Scally's SuperValu is having an organic lunch sampling of Dee's Organic Omega Burger with organic pitta, organic mixed leaves and organic relish.

The Dublin Food Co-op will have it's regular organic food market between 12noon and 8pm. If you've not been before organic week is a great excuse to make your visit.

In Ballinasloe, Co. Galway there's a farm walk at Beechlawn Organic Farm.

The Organic Centre in Leitrim has another big event with their Annual Harvest Celebration.

In Louth at Grounswell on the Coolery Peninsula there is an introductory workshop on growing and using herbs.

The Mayo Organic Group are hosting an evening with guest speaker Lynda Huxley including organic food tastings and food sale.

Sligo's 'Grow Your Own' market will have a Community Garden Open day.

And the Eyre Square Centre launches it's outdoor food market.

We'll be back tomorrow with our pick of things to do to celebrate.

For a full list of events check out the Bord Bia website.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Organic Week - What to do today 16th September 2009

There's plenty to do across the country today to celebrate National Organic Week:

Burren Smoke House & Roadside Tavern in Lisdonvarna, Co. Clare are having a tasting of Smoked Organic Irish Salmon.

The Nano Nagle Centre, Balgriffin, Mallow, Co. Cork are having an organic farm open day including cookery demo from Clodagh McKenna and a Farmers market.

In the Shannon Key West Hotel, Rooskey, Co. Leitrim there will be an organic information evening which invites you to 'Meet your local Organic Producers'.

Also in Leitrim, at The Organic Centre, Rossinver it's womens day hosted by 'Women in Organic Horticultural Training' (WOHT). The day includes talks, workshops, displays and information.

In Limerick, The Organic College, Dromcollogher has an Open Afternoon and Information on Organic courses & practices for Autumn growers.

We'll be back tomorrow with more events.

For a full list of what's going on this National Organic Week check out the Bord Bia website.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Organic Week - What to do today 15th September 2009

To celebrate organic week Organic Yum-Yum is going to keep you up to date with things to do around the country.

Tonight at the Hudson Bay Hotel, Athlone there is an organic information evening, inviting you to 'Meet your local organic producers'. Call the hotel on 090 6442000 for more information.

If your in or near Bandon, Co. Cork pop into An Tobairin/ Finnuise on South Main Street who have a number of events planned including an 'Organic Veggie Hunt' and a 'Veggie Art Exhibition' which is to be judged by a local celebrity.

you can find a full list of Organic Week events on the Bord Bia Website.

We'll be back to give you our picks again tomorrow.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Organic Week and The Harvest Festival

Organic week is almost upon us again and it's going to be a good one. Bord Bia are going full pelt with the marketing and this year they've embraced social media with pages both on Facebook and Twitter.

The biggest event of the week is once again going to be 'The Harvest Feast' in Leitrim. Running from the 11th to the 13th of September 2009 it's packed with events, talks and demonstrations.

Reading about the feast sparked memories of the Harvest Festivals we celebrated when I was a child. The longer I've been away from Essex the more I've realised how rural it was, country walks were a standard part of a family weekend, the smell of rape seed, the sound of the wind blowing through corn and wheat fields which in later years used to provide good hiding places. I suppose it was natural that the harvest festival would be a big part of our year. Like everything when you are young, living in a small suburban town in Essex harvest festival was heavily linked into the church and school. We were asked to bring something into school for the feast, ironically, most of us seemed to bring tinned food, I guess this was a symbol of the 80's, this food would be distributed to the needy. Church, which I was forced to attend sporadically always looked really pretty, the isle and alter adorned with piles of fresh produce, and corn dollies hung from the pews. My friends Mother was an expert in making plaited bread and harvest loaves that hung tantalisingly from their walls, these are a tradition of the festival, baked from the first grains from the harvest. It's lucky that I never had a sleepover there, it was everything I could do when I visited to stop myself from chomping into the loaves... I mean why would you hang them on a wall?

As with so many Christian celebrations the Harvest Festival was originally a pagan festival.. Lammas the festival of the first fruits of the harvest was celebrated on the 1st or 2nd of August, the bread baking was part of the tradition and it seems by eating this bread you were eating the bread of the gods. It's easy to see how this translated into the Christian faith so well.

In Ireland the festival was called Lughnasad after the sun-king god Lugh and was also celebrated on the 1st of August. Lugh had a feast to morn the death of his Mother Tailtiu who is said to have cleared the land for agriculture. Lughnasad translates as 'marriage of Lugh' as Lugh was believed to be married to the land.

It may be a bit late in the year to celebrate Lughnasad but the Harvest Feast in Leitrim is a great substitute. Leitrum has, in my mind at least, long been the home of organics in Ireland. With food, cookery demos, country walks and even a blackberry jam competition it is definitely the place to be this organic week.

More about Organic Week Ireland soon...

More on Lammas and Lughnasad:

School Of The Seasons


Organic Week

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Critical Mass comes to Dublin

If you've ever been in central London during critical mass you will have witnessed the streets filling with bicycles. It's a strange site to see as the cars, buses and taxis get pushed aside to make way for hundreds of bicycles.

Critical Mass has it's roots in San Fransisco. On September 25th 1992 48 cyclists attended the first ride. The numbers grew steadily and by January 1993 there were 500 cyclists attending. Other cities began to take notice and the movement has now spread worldwide.

17 years later to the day Dublin is to see it's first Critical Mass. Meeting at the gates of Stephens Green, (Grafton Street end) at 6pm the ride will take a scenic route around the city and along the canal. It promises to be a relaxed ride and that all are welcome even grandparents! If the weather is good there's going to be a picnic in the park afterwards.

We all know Dublin is a great cycling hub, since I've moved away I've missed the freedom of the city that cycling gave me. And luckily for all of us living in the country the Dublin Bike Scheme is launching almost 2 weeks before hand so we will be able to rent a bike for as little as €2!

I look forward to seeing some of you there.

For more information of the Critical Mass movement:
Critical Mass Info

*photos by Iain Cognito

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Cool Earth at the Festival of World Cultures

Feelgood Organic Hampers has been asked to participate in this year's Cool Earth exhibition at the Dun Laoghaire Festival of World Cultures.

Run by Dun Laoghaire Rathdown CoCo's Environmental and Culture Department, the event takes place this Saturday and Sunday the 29th and 30th of August on the concourse of Dun Laoghaire County Hall between 11am and 6pm. It is the third year that it has been run and it aims to illustrate 'simple ways to reduce your carbon footprint'.

Speakers include Trevor Sargent , Evelyn Cusack from MET Eirann and Kieran O'Brien from UNICEF Ireland. There is also entertainment including music from environmental folk singer Enda Reilly, a mixture of Japanese and traditional Irish music from Philip Horan and Junshi Murakam and comedy from the hyper eco-aware MOMO Theatre company.

There will also be plenty of family friendly activities including making bird feeders and plant pots.

We will be there with a selection of the best Irish produced Organic Food, the Irish made skincare range from Flourish Organics a selection of organic cotton baby clothing and of course hampers. Other stall holders include the Amnesty Freedom cafe, Coolfin Gardens Organic Bakery, Glenisk, The Native Woodland Trust.

For more information check out the Cool Earth website.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

The allotment phenomenon

The cult of grow your own has become massive this year. Maybe it's the credit crunch driving us back to a simpler way of life, a hobby that saves us money not one that eats through our finances. Maybe it's the inevitable next step in the green revolution. Or maybe all those hours of watching Hugh do it on River Cottage have finally paid off. Almost everyone I know is growing something this year and it's a great community to be part of. A mild panic I had during the week about my potatoes was soon assuaged by talking to a fellow gardener.

I guess part of the reason I moved to the country was to be able to grow my own and become more sustainable, which is why I often feel a bit sorry for those who live in apartments or the city. There is a lot that can be done with window boxes and planters but if you want to be more adventurous, don't have a garden and really want to get your hands, boots and clothes dirty, an allotment could be the way to go.

Originally hailing from England my view of allotments has always been of old men with flat caps accompanied by whippets putting their feet up in a ramshackle shed. A view which was probably influenced by popular culture, allotments were spaces which soap opera characters like Arthur Fowler and Jack Duckworth inhabited. Coming from the suburbs allotments weren't something that I had first hand experience of, everyone in the 'burbs has their own garden!

I went to college in the north of England, just outside Newcastle and the allotment was far more prevalent there. I went to a photographic exhibition on the subject, the black and white prints of people enjoying the allotment life, growing food, pigeon fancying, being part of a community was enough to sell the whole concept to me.

It is this romantic view of allotments which has stuck with me, and when I learned of community allotment schemes beginning to spring up across Ireland I was delighted.

Earlier this year I bumped into a business contact of mine, Mary from Taxing Times, she told me that she was involved in the Harbour View Community Garden Project. The community received a grant of €2,500 to convert a 3 acre plot of vacant land into allotments. A lot of work had to be done to clear and prepare the ground, a task which the community took on together. Well wishers donated equipment and even trees.

The allotments are now being rented, the proceeds of which will go back into the garden with the intention of establishing a native woodland and orchard.

This is just one of many stories of thriving communities across Ireland pulling together to create gardening space. To keep up to date with news on allotments near you check out Allotments Ireland, you can also follow them on Twitter.

Back in the UK it seems politicians across the spectrum are encouraging the grow your own movement. Boris Johnson and Gordon Brown have both been in the news due to their green fingers. Mr Brown has even taken a leaf out of President Obama's book and declared that he and his wife are to grow veg in the garden at No. 10. So the allotment phenomenon seems to be here to stay.

*please excuse the quality of the images which were grabbed from a scanned document

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Water Labeling

Last week the Food Ethics Council (FEC) and Sustain launched a joint report into the amount of water used to produce the food we eat. They proposed the introduction of a water footprint label which they hope would encourage good water stewardship practices and help to educate the consumer on how much 'virtual water' goes into what we consume.

At first it seems baffling that it could take up to 7 litres of water to make a bottle of water or 140 litres to make a cup of coffee. The statistics get worse when you look into meat and dairy production with 2,000 litres of water going into 1 litre of milk or 1kg of beef. Where is all this water going?

In the case of coffee, it is a very thirsty crop, often grown in a hot climate. It is also grown in countries where irrigation systems have been stretched to the max, these tired systems can be inefficient with the water they carry.

With bottled water it is the bottle itself that is the culprit. To make the plastic, mould it, mass produce it and maintain the factory where it is created.

For beef and dairy it is not just the water that the cows consume, it is the water that it takes to grow the food they eat. The grass or corn or alfalfa that they eat needs water to grow and one average cow can consume up to 76kg of grass per day.

So is water labeling the solution? I do believe that we as consumers need to become more aware of the amount of 'virtual water' we consume. In Ireland it is often easy to forget that water isn't so easy to come by elsewhere. I have just finished reading Fred Pearce's 'When The Rivers Run Dry' which paints a pretty bleak picture of our world teetering on the edge of water poverty. Centuries of bad water practices, of dams and irrigation systems that rob some rivers of so much of their flow that they fail to reach the sea. Of drained and polluted aquifiers, of farmers who dig wells deeper and deeper yet they still run dry. Each of us need to take responsibility for the amount of virtual water we consume, we may switch off the tap whilst we're brushing our teeth but to really make a difference perhaps we should cut down on the amount of coffee we drink, the amount of bottled water we buy or the amount of meat and dairy we consume? Water labeling will educate us, will make us aware but my fear is that another label on our food, without a massive marketing campaign to back it up, could just be lost amongst our certified organic, fair trade, carbon footprint and nutritional information.

Download the report here.