JP McMahon: There’s always a better option than the ready meal

Nearly all food bought during the storm was processed with ready meals and bread most popular

Dried food, such as rice, pasta and pulses are vital for keeping us fed. Photograph: Getty Images

Dried food, such as rice, pasta and pulses are vital for keeping us fed. Photograph: Getty Images

 

We often forget about the role of food in our lives until a food emergency occurs due to weather or some natural disaster. The recent snow storm brought everything to a standstill in the country and affected food production and transportation. 

While I was delighted to see we ran out of industrial processed bread (it’s not good for you), I was shocked to see how badly we coped with supplying food in bad weather.

Of course, the snow storm brought memories of 1982 and 1947 but what was most interesting was the foods that people rushed to buy. Nearly all of the food bought, according to a radio interview I heard on RTÉ Radio 1 recently, was in the processed domain: ready meals and bread.

Have we really forgotten how to cook? We live in an age with more recipe books than ever before and yet we are cooking less.

Most of the food sold in Ireland is imported into the country as a recent statistic on fish bought in Ireland shows. Only 22 per cent of the fish sold in Ireland was of Irish origin. And guess what we do with our own fish: we export it. 

Tragic or comic?

During the 1947 snow storm, the most purchased items were flour, eggs, and sugar. I’d imagine we were going baking. This time around the ready meal won out. I’m not sure if this is tragic or comic. 

While I’m not a fan of the ready meal, dried food, such as rice, pasta and pulses are vital for keeping us fed, not only in terms of food scarcity, but also in between seasons. These items are often overlooked in terms of quality and provenance. Buying good quality dried products is vital, whether they are local, organic or support the farmers that grow them, wherever in the world. Not all dried food is produced equally.

We could add that not all ready meals are produced equally either. I know many really good ones being produced in Ireland at present, that are made without excess additives or preservatives. 

Whether it’s pasta or bread, there’s always a better option.

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