Get back to basics with eco-friendly barbecues
Now I know I should be writing about forestry and the wonderful exhibits at last month's Tullamore show but on the evening of the show I was cooking with some nice dry logs from my own woodland so I thought I would write about barbecues instead.
Forestry thinnings provide perfect fuel for cooking, and many common species such as alder make great charcoal. My son swears by a brand of charcoal imported from some obscure African country and there is no denying it is excellent and long-lasting stuff, but there is always the argument that by purchasing it, or other similar products from across the world, we are then hastening the destruction of rain forests or whatever.
There is a counter argument that, without our custom, people from Third World countries would be even worse off than they are already so I really don't know the correct answer.
I cannot get the image out of my mind of a chain of African men and women, earning the equivalent of about a cent a day, walking in single file across the desert with baskets of ironwood or some other tropical species balanced on their heads so that here in Europe we can enjoy the luxury of long-lasting charcoal.
This of course brings me immediately to the issue of forest certification. At least if the product is certified as having been produced sustainably then we can use it with a clear conscience. After more than a decade of wrangling and arguing, it appears that an Irish standard for forest certification will soon be available.
This has to be good news for woodland owners given the way world markets are developing and the increasing demands of the consumer for environmentally sound timber products. I read recently that a watchdog group were questioning the credentials of some wood products and accusing manufacturers of toilet paper in Indonesia that their paper contained minute traces of tropical hardwood.
The mind boggles at the thought of teams of scientists analysing rolls of loo paper from around the world to see if they comply with environmental regulations.
What ever happened to the sheets of newspaper that used to be recycled by hanging them from a nail on the wall of the outdoor WC? Would this meet approval?