Tom Hayes, TD, Minister of State with responsibility for horticulture at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine urged consumers to purchase Irish produced vegetables while inspecting some of the Irish brussels sprout crop with Enda Weldon, grower, at the Weldon’s family farm in North Co. Dublin.
Minister Hayes said “given the good weather over recent months there was a strong supply of excellent quality Irish seasonal fresh field vegetables available at present including parsnips, carrots, cauliflower, cabbage and swedes as well as the “Christmas season sprouts”.
During the Minister’s visit, Enda Weldon outlined how the sprouts have to be cooled, graded, packed and on their supermarket customer’s shelves within 24 hours of harvest. To meet consumer demand in light of this very tight timeframe the Weldon operation will run 24 hours a day for the 10 days running up to Christmas. Enda Weldon outlined how December sales determine the year’s overall profitability for Irish spout growers. He urged consumers to support local growers by seeking Irish produced sprouts and other seasonal Irish vegetables this Christmas.
Packed with nutrients, this year’s Irish sprouts will be sweeter than normal due to high sunshine levels over recent months. Modern sprout varieties produce a slower growing tastier sprout that is better nutritionally than the crops years ago. Sprouts represent a good source of glucosinolates (a strong antioxidant) as well as folic acid; in addition sprouts are also high in iron and Vitamin C.
Minister Hayes urged all consumers to check the country of origin labelling on all fresh fruit and vegetables prior to purchase so they know exactly where their produce is coming from. The Minister continued by saying “where possible consumers should seek Bord Bia Quality Assured produce this Christmas so they can rest assured they are getting traceable, quality food that has been produced in a sustainable manner in Ireland.”
Above: Minister Hayes with grower Enda Weldon at the Weldon Family farm in North Co Dublin