Friday, February 08, 2008

Ethical eating

I wrote this guide to 'alternative' food for a new colleague at work, and hope to make it one of many, covering, for example, clothes, furniture and household items. I'm putting it up here as a work in progress that perhaps can be useful to a broader audience.

So you've arrived to live and work in Ireland, probably in Dublin, and you want to get the alternative basics that no-one seems to put in the guidebooks or maps, and that aren't in the new employee's orientation (if you have one) at your most likely not very ecologically-minded job. You're not a tourist any more, and you want to know things like where to buy organic vegetables, get non-toxic cleaning products, buy natural baby clothes and recycle your tin cans, let alone the trickier plastic or batteries. So here are some names and addresses to start you off.

Starting point:
Try the Dublin Green Map, which promotes and links environmental resources within cities worldwide. It lists eco-information, eco tourist information, organisations, alternative health resources, protest points, farmers' markets, healthy/vegetarian cafes, health food stores, green businesses, museums, cultural sites, eco-buildings, drinking water resources, recycling, renewable technology, reuse sites, composting, parks, gardens, wildlife, zoo, pollution, walks, cycling, ferries, public transport, light rail transit. Check out: or www. and look for the Dublin Green Map link.

Another good resource is the book Organic and Green Guide to Ireland 2005-2006. Available from bookshops and some health food stores.

For fresh organic fruit and vegetables your main option is farmers' markets, of which there are now quite a few.

The Irish Farmer's Markets are all similar and take place in:
Swords, Thursday
Leopardstown Racecourse, Friday
Malahide, Saturday
Marlay Park, Rathfarnham, Saturday
Ranelagh, behind Multidenominational School, Ranelagh Road, Sunday
Howth Harbour, Sunday

There's also Denis Healy's organic food stall among the many great food stalls at the Temple Bar Food Market, in Meeting House Square, Temple Bar, city centre. Saturday.

The farmers' markets are also a good bet for local Irish fruit and veg, even if non-organic. You can also try the stalls on Moore Street, just off O'Connell Street on the north side of Dublin city centre, and stalls on Camden Street, past Stephen's Green towards the Grand Canal on the south side, slightly further from the city centre. No guarantee the food is Irish but you can ask.

Health food stores are an excellent resource for all kinds of organic and healthy foods, but usually don't stock fresh fruit, vegetables or milk, though they often have cheese, yogurt and other dairy products. Often have organic breads. They also stock extensive varieties of vitamins and supplements, essential oils, natural shampoos and cosmetics, and natural cleaning products (Ecover and Lilly's are the main brands). Health food shops should probably be your first port of call:

Down to Earth - George's Street.
Nourish - chain of health food stores, Wicklow Street; GPO Arcade off O'Connell Street; Liffey Street.
Restore - Camden Street
The Hopsack - Swan Centre, Rathmines. Dublin's oldest health food store.

Fair trade shops stock a range of fair trade and often organic foods, alongside gifts, cards, books, home furnishings and other items. You can get pasta, sugar, chocolate, olive and other oils, tea, coffee, honey, jams, spices, fruit juice, biscuits and a range of other foods.

Oxfam Fair Trade shops - those selling food and other fair trade products are the shop on South King Street, opposite the Stephen's Green Centre, and the shop in Rathmines, on Rathmines Road. Their other branches focus on secondhand clothes, books (Parliament St, Rathmines Road) and formal wear (George's Street). There are Oxfam shops all over the city.
Amnesty International Freedom Cafe, Fleet Street - sells most of the above fair trade foods, and is also a cafe selling excellent and good value sandwiches, soups, salads, juices, tea, coffee and pastries. The cafe has recently closed temporarily as the building is being refurbished (February 2008).
Cultivate - Essex Street West, Temple Bar. Ireland's only sustainable living and learning centre stocks the same foods as most health food stores as well as serving tea and coffee. Includes some fair trade items. It has a large eco-shop selling cleaning products (including refills), renewable energy gadgets, stationery, composters, and is a bookshop, garden centre and learning space.

Slow food/organic food shops:
Sheridan's Cheesemongers, South Anne Street - local, artisan, handmade and high quality cheese from Ireland and around the world. Member of the Slow Food Movement.
Blazing Salads, 42 Drury Street, opposite entrance to George's Street market arcade, sells fresh organic bread alongside its salads and other foods and also supplies many shops, delicatessens and supermarkets around town.

The Asia Market (Drury Street), Oriental Emporium (George's Street), Asian Emporium (Rathmines Road) are large shops selling a huge range of Asian food and products, not usually organic but they stock fresh tofu, miso etc. If there is no fresh tofu on display in the Asia Market ask a member of staff to bring some out from the back for you.

You can buy organic veg, usually packaged in plastic, from most supermarkets. Not all branches of these chains will have organic food but city centre ones usually do. Try:
Dunnes Stores - Stephen's Green shopping centre at the top of Grafton Street and shops all over the city and country.
Tesco - Jervis Street shopping centre near O'Connell Street and shops all over the city and country.
Marks and Spencer - Grafton Street, Jervis Street centre. All their food is also GM-free.
Morton's supermarket, Castlewood Avenue, Ranelagh, Dublin 6. Small, high-quality local supermarket/delicatessen/specialist food shop. Marc Michel organic fresh food range. On the same street is Best of Italy - not organic but specialist imported Italian food.
Fallon & Byrne's food shop on Exchequer Street stocks organic fresh milk (Glenisk) and is one of the few shops in town to do so. Dunne's and Tesco usually have some too.

These supermarkets usually also stock some canned and dried organic foods, such as pasta and tomatoes, organic milk, and the occasional useful item such as biodegradable rubbish/refuse sacks and recycled toilet paper.

Healthy/vegetarian restaurants
Some of these also do takeout/takeaway (marked TO).

The following are vegetarian only:
Cafe Fresh - top floor of Powerscourt Townhouse Centre, off Grafton St. Extensive range of vegetarian, vegan, gluten/sugar/etc-free main dishes, sandwiches, soups, salads, desserts, juices. (TO)
Juice - George's Street. Somewhat fancier sit-down restaurant.
Cornucopia - Wicklow Street. Main meals, salads, soups, more traditional vegetarian and vegan fare.
Govinda's - Aungier Street (continuation of George's Street). Hare Krishna run, asian-influenced food. Excellent paneer.
Radha Govinda's - Abbey Street. Second branch of Hare Krishna restaurant.

The following serve some organic foods:
Blazing Salads, Drury St (TO only) (see above)
Amnesty International Freedom Cafe, Fleet St (see above)
Nude - Suffolk St. (TO). Sandwiches, wraps, salads, drinks.
Cultivate - Essex Street West, Temple Bar. Tea, coffee, snacks (see above)
The Porter House - Parliament Street and Nassau Street. Ireland's only micro-brewery.
The Cake Cafe, Daintree Building, Pleasants Place - Slow Food cafe serving main meals, tarts, salads, soups, sandwiches, and an enormous range of cakes and teas. It's original and sister cafe, the Curved Street Cafe, is located in Filmbase in Temple Bar, and serves soups, unusually good sandwiches and cakes from the Cake Cafe.

Look out or ask for fair trade tea and coffee in many other restaurants, where you see the fair trade symbol.

There are undoubtedly more local, organic, vegetarian and fair trade food options appearing around Dublin, this is just a starting point. Do let me know of others you come across as this is a far from complete guide. Happy eating!


Blogger Amanda said...

Great blog,

Just thought I would let you know aboout the Dublin Food Coop in Dublin here is there website:

I have a business selling organic gift hampers containing all kinds of gourmet organic foods. I deliver countrywide:

Good luck with the search

Saturday, 9 February 2008 at 20:09:00 GMT  
Blogger Felix said...

Hey amazing Sharon!
I love this guide you put together and will let people know about it when they are heading over to Dublin and ask me 'where to eat?'

I have been doing a thing with my blog called Messy Tuesdays - I think you'll like it. It is a celebration of mess.

xx hope to talk soon xx


Tuesday, 18 March 2008 at 11:36:00 GMT  

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