I went to the Ecoshop at the back of the garden centre in Glen of the Downs last Sunday. It has expanded to at least three times the size it was last time I was there (which is about two years ago). Great, I thought, business must be good, more choice for me so.
They now have a lot of fair trade household and gift items and more organic cotton clothes - mainly t-shirts, socks and underwear although there was a baby section I didn't go near as well. In general there seemed to be a good range of organic and fair trade products and they seem to sell everything from toothpaste to chocolate, twine to tofu, clipboards made from reused circuit boards to ostrich feather dusters. There was a good selection of books and magazines as well and I picked up the current issue of the Ecologist as well as the Irish "Local Planet".
I needed pasta anyway so decided to buy one packet there - of three different ranges, none were Irish. I don't know if it's a case that not much pasta is made in Ireland or not. I looked at a lot of other products too and there were actually very few Irish products. Unfortunately the girl who served me has only worked there a month or so and didn't seem too interested in engaging in much of a conversation. Maybe if I were able to get there during the week (especially at a time when it's less busy) I might have more luck.
I decided to treat myself to a couple of things and bought some trail mix, sesame sticks and chocolate raisins as well as a couple of samples of Irish made chocolate (I'm going to try the mint and the ginger ones) from a new, family-run business and some German organic, fair trade chocolate. There were quite a lot of German products there overall. I think most of the clothes were also made in Germany. As visiting during the week isn't possible for nine-to-five me I need to find an email address and will see if they can let me know their policy on buying Irish and how much effort they put into sourcing Irish products. I read the label of the sesame sticks as I was eating them. They have an Ecoshop label, were packed by Munster Wholefoods in Kerry and the origin is given as the UK. I also realised that the list of ingredients contains that awfully ambiguous "natural flavourings" as well as simply saying herbs, spices. I really wish they'd tell us what they're putting in our food! I can't even go and try and find it on the website of the company who made them because I have no idea where (beyond "UK") they were made.
Will update on any reply I receive from Ecoshop about buying local and the origin of my sesame sticks.
As far as buying local goes I think my choices will have to be:
Non-organic Irish (and as close to Dublin as possible)
Organic/fair trade from other parts of the world while reducing the amount of these products (chocolate for example) I consume.