Status: 12/21/2022 2:35 PM

More fruit, vegetables and legumes, less meat, salt and sugar: the last meeting before Christmas in the closet was about food. Minister Özdemir presented nutrition strategy plans.

Written by Claudia Blass, Studio ARD Capital

According to Federal Minister of Agriculture Cem Özdemir, food should be healthy, good for the environment and affordable. “Everyone should be able to eat well.” Together with representatives of science, business and civil society, the green politician wants to develop a comprehensive nutrition strategy. The project is supported by the Farmers Association, social and environmental organizations and the food association, among others.

Claudia Blass
ARD Capital Studio

Among the goals: Strengthening the vegetarian diet. You should end up eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grain products, and legumes like beans and peas, and your consumption of sugar, fat, and salt should be reduced.

Also, a lot of food still ends up in the trash. Approximately 11 million tons of food is thrown away in Germany each year, and this should decrease.

food from the region

Above all, Özdemir wants to use the plans to ensure that more organic foods produced from the region are served in canteens and canteens, he says. ARD Capital Studio He said. The goal of the nutrition strategy should be to provide “food that is as healthy as the science tells us” in all school, factory, senior-care and hospital canteens. This should also be affordable.

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The green politician also wants the German Dietetic Association’s quality standards to become binding – they provide, among other things, for a diet lower in fat, salt and sugar.

The traffic light parties have already agreed in the coalition agreement to adopt a feed-in strategy by 2023. Much remains unclear. It gets more realistic when it comes to advertising. In the future, unhealthy foods aimed at children under the age of 14 will not be advertised.

A big problem

The need for action is great. In Germany, about 15 percent of children are considered overweight, and some are considered obese. Physician Lisa Portner explains that unhealthy nutrition can lead to deficiencies in important micronutrients, with potentially negative consequences for physical and mental development. Obesity and diet-related diseases are also a major problem in adults. Cardiovascular diseases or diabetes and some types of cancer are “closely linked to our eating habits”. The most important risk factors: not enough fruits and vegetables, excessive intake of red meat, such as pork and beef.

Pörtner participates in the “Tackling the Food Transition” coalition. Many associations have joined forces, such as the environmental organization WWF, the Federal Consumers Association, and the Professional Association of Pediatricians. They also advocate, among other things, more plant-based nutrition and a gradual reduction in the consumption of animal products.

The environmental aspect also plays a major role: according to the Federal Ministry for the Environment, nutrition accounts for 15 percent of Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions – as much as heating. Animal husbandry for agriculture, fertilization and food transportation contribute to carbon dioxide emissions to a large extent.

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Free healthy school lunch

Minister of Agriculture Özdemir wants to focus mainly on children with his nutrition strategy. Mike Mueller is convinced that healthy school meals are an important lever for sustainable nutrition. She is the managing director of the restaurant “Abraxas” in Berlin, and at the same time she was the Berlin representative of the Association of German Schools and Day Care Providers.

Mueller sees Berlin as a leader, especially when it comes to participation. Primary school children can get a free lunch here. The association demands that this be implemented nationwide. Müller stresses that all children in Germany should eat a healthy lunch, regardless of their social background.

A balanced diet is expensive

Özdemir agrees, however, that nutrition is often a social issue, so a good food policy is also a “matter of social justice”. In light of the energy crisis and the rise in food prices, it is difficult, especially for those with limited incomes, to follow a healthy and balanced diet. Although the energy crisis aid has been launched by the federal government, standard rates will also increase by €50 with the new citizens’ allowance.

However, the social association VDK sees the need for improvement and calls for a higher standard rate. In order to maintain affordable prices for healthy food, the value-added tax must also be abolished on some products, especially on fresh fruits, vegetables and legumes, said Verena Bentelli, president of the association. VDK is also involved in the development of the new feeding strategy. Bentel talks about an important project.

The union is against banning advertisements

The opposition in the Bundestag is skeptical. The union primarily focuses on education. Nutrition politicians want the union faction to give the topic a higher priority in day care centers and schools in order to create more awareness of what is healthy and how delicious food can be prepared. However, the union refuses to ban advertising of unhealthy foods. The food policy spokesperson for the Parliamentary Union Group, Albert Stegmann, criticized the fact that the federal government itself does not know whether advertising bans affect eating habits. Stegemann calls for a “science and evidence-based” feeding strategy. Similarly, the German Food Association argues. Managing Director Christoph Meinhof wants to “accompany constructively” with the federal government’s nutrition strategy, he says. At the same time, it refuses to block ads. Instead, children and young adults should be trained to deal with advertisements.

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The challenges are great, and the expectations and requirements in terms of healthy nutrition are different. A comprehensive process is now being initiated with many participants, at the end of which there is a plan for better nutrition.