Monday, October 31, 2011

Farms and Fish

This morning my Aunt took me back to the monk monastery near their house for some exercise (it sounds like she was walking me...she kinda was...I have a vacation belly that should be of some concern to all of you who are planning on recognizing me when I return). It was raining and chilly and dark so I didn't bring my cameras for the walk, but it was beautiful.

The leaves are changing here and while the colors are not as vibrant as the New England or upstate NY leaves in Autumn, they are striking against the ol' Irish greens. The property is huge. There are acres of farm land, sprawling fields, cobblestone walls, thick woods, rolling cow pastures. The monks now lease out the farm land, but they still bake breads, which I need to get my hands on. My Aunt used to buy her flour freshly ground from their mills when she first moved here with the fam. All so close to the first step of the food chain we so rarely see in suburbia. We saw about four or five red squirrels on the hike which are apparently a rarity and good luck. I didn't even know there were squirrels in Ireland.

We then drove around looking for a fish farm her friend used to work on (I'm convinced my aunt knows everyone in Ireland). Yes. I'm going to see a real live fish farm. This is so exciting. I never thought I would ever get to see one in person. It's salmon too! I'm curious about the feed, their take on GM feed, the dye, the set up of the pen. I really have no clue what to expect. Farmed fish can be a bit of a controversy. Monterey bay tells you what fish to eat in terms of sustainability and safety in the US by region, here. Species of farmed catfish are recommended while there is a consensus in all regions that you should avoid farmed salmon, most of the time labeled "Atlantic fresh." There are no longer any fisheries in the Atlantic for wild salmon, but this labeling sure makes it sound like it's wild. It's not. And it's not good for health or the environment. The amount of the touted omega fatty acids aren't worth the dosage of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls=toxins) or mercury (straight up lethal toxin) that are both fat soluble and trapped inside the fish we're sprinkling on our salads (and farmed fish are usually fattier from the feed of grains, oils and meat-and-bone meal they're fed instead of the natural diet of plankton and insects and plants. Fatties!). Aight, this is going off track. I'm just excited to see if it's different from what I've read about fish farming in the states.

And this Saturday, about 6 in the morning, I'm going down the street to see some real life cow milking. It doesn't get much more exciting for me than this, folks. There will be pics to come of the monastery, pics of the fish farm if permitted and pics if the sun is up in time for cow milking.

If you think it's weird that I'm excited about these things, think about how weird the people who do them everyday think it is. Forever an outcast. Que (cue?) violin.

Now! To make a list of questions for these poor people who have agreed to be so generous with their time who have no idea what they're in for. Anyone have questions for me to bring?! All my fish farm enthusiast friends?! Don't holler all at once you'll CRASH MY INBOX!

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