Entertainment Radio

Monday 24 June 2019

Radio: Avocados, the 'blood diamonds' of the food world


JP McMahon
JP McMahon
Darragh McManus

Darragh McManus

Avocado, as Matt Cooper joked on The Last Word (Today FM, Mon-Fri 4.30pm), has become synonymous with delusional millennials. As the stereotype goes, they moan about being unable to afford accommodation, while mashing the expensive little - fruit, vegetable? I'm not sure - on their toast.

But it's also surprisingly - here's a good millennial word - problematic. Michelin-starred Galway chef JP McMahon explained how avocados, now ubiquitous in Irish eateries, are damaging and unsustainable.

In Mexico, they're nicknamed "blood diamonds" due to cartel involvement. They're responsible for mass deforestation in Chile. They rack up huge air miles (as it happens, Matt had just finished a piece on carbon-tax for fossil fuels). They need a lot of irrigation: it takes about 100 litres of water to produce one avocado.

This was all genuinely shocking, in the literal and descriptive senses. Avocados, McMahon concluded, "are healthy but it's not sustainable. It's the same issue as cutting forests for industrial rearing of beef. You can get organic and fair trade, which is better, but it's still not sustainable."

Speaking of carbon taxes, electric cars may be the solution to one sizeable chunk of that problem. But as we heard on Drivetime (Radio 1, Mon-Fri 4.30pm), that depends on people actually using the things.

New figures show a massive increase in sales of electric vehicles: up 97pc in the year to date. However, this is starting from a very low base. Just 1,124 vehicles of 124,000 purchased so far this year were electric.

Geraldine Herbert, motoring journalist with the Sunday Independent, blamed it on "a number of factors": electrics are perceived to have bad range, be expensive, too slow, with an unreliable charging infrastructure. There's also a lack of choice in the market, and lack of push from dealerships.

It's that time again, folks: when you listen to those 'Best Books of the Year' bits on radio and realise, once more, how little you read over the past 12 months.

Marian Finucane (Radio 1, Sat-Sun 11am) invited on authors Kathleen MacMahon and Declan Burke for some of their favourites from 2018. For this wannabe-bibliophile, it was dismaying to realise that I'd only read two of their choices: Skin Deep and Jo Nesbø's take on Macbeth. In fact, I'd only heard of a handful of the others. Bah humbug.

Still, Burke and MacMahon were lively, informed guides, and the Penguin Clothbound Classics range sounds great, as does Virago's Modern Classics range and Everyman's "modern hardback classics".

A spot of hair-raisingly violent Cormac McCarthy fiction? Just the ticket for a loved one to crack open on the big day.

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