The rising sun was breaking through the clouds. Finally. Jack and I were in his jewelry studio. I was putting together small boxes and he was casting a few more pieces for the Saturday market in Galway. We were listening to Irish talk radio.
The interview that morning was with a government official working with dairy exports. This man is responsible for getting Irish cheese, including my favorite Dubliner cheddar, to the US market. I moved my box assembly closer to the radio. Please don’t tell us that this increased market demand has compromised your standards or worse, that although the cheese carries the Dubliner label it is actually produced in Wisconsin.
In my early visits to Ireland I remember hearing great controversy around GMOs. Irish farmers were holding fast to a long tradition of natural farming practices and werebeing very outspoken in their criticism of those considering the introduction of chemicals and factory farming. Free range pasture grazing was a source of pride. And, for the most part, pride won out. I didn’t want to hear this had changed and was greatly relieved to learn it hadn’t.
Dubliner Cheese is produced in County Cork. Not because labor prices are cheaper, or taxes are waived, or land prices are less but because the “temperate environment of this area ensures a long grass-growing season to produce high quality milk.” The cheese is produced by the Carbery Group but that’s all they do. The cows are raised and tended by 15,000 local farmers, according to the website. A huge number given that Ireland is just over half the size of Washington State. This system is a stand for sustainability, both of product quality and small family farms. While purchasing imported Dubliner Cheese is about as far from the buy-local ethic as you can get there is another ethic at play. The ethic of a community based food source deeply connected with the Earth.