Fields of knowledge

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Jorgensen, Annette
Issue Date
Institute of Public Administration (IPA)
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Organic food is becoming increasingly popular in Ireland, as it is elsewhere. In September 2004, the Minister for Horticulture and Food, Noel Treacy, launched a Guide to Organic Food and Farming at the farmers’ market in Galway city. Speaking at the launch, Minister Treacy commented that ‘while consumers have a generally positive view of organic food and what it represents, they often find it difficult to make an informed decision on what to buy because they don’t feel they have enough information’. The new guide was developed to address this information deficit by informing consumers about organic food and farming, how to recognise it and where they can get it. Organic food is now sold, not only in specialised outlets such as health food stores, but also by all the major food chains in the country. However, while consumption of organic food is increasing, there has been no corresponding shift to organic production by conventional Irish farmers. Organic farming in Ireland still accounts for less than 2 per cent of total agricultural land. As a result, most of the organic food on sale in Ireland is actually imported. This chapter focuses on the theme of knowledge, and how it is produced and disseminated among Irish organic food producers and consumers. The diffusion of knowledge about organic production has been hampered by the dominance of scientific knowledge associated with conventional food production, which has acted as a major barrier to conversion from conventional farming methods. Author keywords: Organic farming, farming practices, conventional farming