Ireland is part of a small club that includes the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia in which consumers spend less than 10pc of their income on food. All of the rest of the EU, as well as Japan and New Zealand, spend up to 15pc on food - while much of the rest of the world, including Russia, China, India and most of South America, spends twice this amount.
In countries like Nigeria, nearly two-thirds of household incomes are spent on food. Ireland used to be like that once. It is easy to take the price of food for granted when it is so low. It is a very important issue in society because high food prices mostly affect the poorest and most disadvantaged households.
Last week, as Brexit negotiations come to a messy end, there appears to be agreement that one inevitable effect will be to increase the price of food in Ireland. Also last week, the Government launched a National Climate & Air Roadmap for the Agriculture Sector, entitled Ag Climatise, which may also increase food prices.
The roadmap sets an ambitious vision for a 'climate-neutral agriculture sector by 2050' and includes 29 actions with specific and challenging targets aimed at reducing the environmental footprint of Irish agriculture.
These proposals first need to be put in context. Ireland contributes about 5pc of the EU's agricultural emissions. Irish agriculture is the largest contributor to national GHG emissions, estimated at 32pc.
Energy and agriculture are, by far, the sectors that are the largest sources of Ireland's greenhouse gases. They dwarf emissions from industry, which accounts for only about 5pc of emissions, while providing the majority of the country's employment, taxes and exports. The agri-food sector is worth about €14bn compared with overall exports worth €175bn. The majority of farming value comes from only one-third of the largest 79,000 farms in the country that are economically viable.
The report sensibly proposes improvements to the make-up and management of the dairy and beef herds. This will happen by improving the breeding of the national herd by genotyping and by better integration of the dairy and beef sectors, focusing particularly on dairy calf to beef systems.
The roadmap also aims to reduce dependence on imported feed while increasing the area under tillage production. It is also hoped that this will produce more native-grown animal feed - which could make a lot of sense because these, together with fertilising and reseeding, can make up nearly a third of input costs.
However, the roadmap also includes many proposals that run the spectrum from charming naivety to worryingly unwise. The charming proposals include planting more fruit and nut trees, such as apples and hazels, within all agricultural enterprises. They also include the perennial misty-eyed hope that we should provide more domestic vegetables like potatoes and carrots - oblivious to the economic realities of the specialisation for these products that already exist elsewhere.
The more worrying proposals are those proposing massive increases in the amount of land for lower productive uses.
Land is a finite resource, so requirements to significantly increase the amount of land under organic farming and to reduce the use of peat-based soils will either increase the need for land to be farmed or increase the price of food - probably both.
The roadmap is a mixed bag of realistic measures and idealism that is occasionally unmoored from economic, social or environmental realism. There is no assessment of the economic impacts of these proposals. Many who campaign for environmental issues are also advocates for social justice and poverty elimination. How many are aware that the pursuit of environmental principles will most affect the poorest?
These increases in food prices will come on top of job losses in already deprived areas that are most likely to bear the brunt of agricultural restructuring driven by these measures.
Sadly, these same areas are also the locations of greatest fuel poverty and maximum car dependency. The north midlands, for example, will bear the brunt of additional direct and indirect cost increases due to carbon taxes.
The roadmap is laudably accompanied by assessments of the potential environmental effects - but there is no assessment of the potential impacts on poverty. This omission is amplified by the virtue-signalling commitment to ensure a 'just transition to lower emissions land use options'. These aspirations are empty without a detailed and meaningful examination of the implications of these policies for ordinary people in the ordinary rural communities.
We need to ensure that measures that increase the sense of moral superiority by an avocado-eating suburbanite do not end up causing very real hardships for smaller rural communities in peripheral areas.
On the basis of this analysis, it appears that the principles of the well-intentioned will have greatest effect on those who can least afford to pay. All principles come with a cost. Must these costs fall most heavily on those least able to afford them?