LAgriculture Minister Cem Özdemir (Greens) wants to involve day-care centers, schools and canteens of companies and authorities to a greater extent in order to introduce Germans to healthier nutrition. The so-called “community catering” plays a central role in the cornerstones of Özdemir’s nutrition strategy, which the cabinet approved on Wednesday at its last meeting of the year. “We live in a society where many people no longer cook at home,” said Özdemir. Therefore, other places would have to be used “as a lever”. Regardless of income and level of education, everyone should have access to quality meals.
The key issues paper is only concrete at a few points. One of them is that the quality standards of the German Society for Nutrition (DGE) in community catering – we are talking about daycare centers, schools and inpatient facilities – should become “binding”, i.e. mandatory. This should happen by 2030. For lunch in schools, these standards stipulate, among other things, that there should be meat once a week and fish once a week at most.
Eating in community facilities should also help to achieve the 30 percent organic share that the traffic light coalition has set for agriculture by 2030. Currently, just under 11 percent of the agricultural area in Germany is farmed according to ecological criteria. In retail, the organic share is even lower, with less than 7 percent of food sales in 2021 being organic products.
Too many overweight adults
Özdemir emphasized that he did not want to dictate to people what they should eat. As is well known, the “Veggie Day” demanded by the Greens in the 2013 federal election campaign was not well received by the voters. Since then, the party has sought a less educational approach. With regard to plant-based foods, the key points only state that the demand for them should be increased.
It also has something to do with the appreciation of the employees when “there is not only currywurst with fries in the canteen, but a selection,” said Özdemir. He justified the need for a nutritional strategy at all by saying that the majority of adults are overweight. The strategy should be ready by the end of 2023. The German Farmers’ Association warned of “government campaigns against animal-based foods”.
Subsidy plan for animal husbandry
On Wednesday, the Ministry of Agriculture also presented key points on how state subsidies for the conversion of animal husbandry should be allocated. A total of one billion euros is available for this in the federal budget by 2026. However, the budget committee has not yet released the first 150 million euros for 2023 because it lacked a concept of what should be done with the money. According to the plans presented on Wednesday, Özdemir is planning subsidies for investments in new stables.
However, farmers should also be reimbursed for ongoing additional costs – in the order of 65 percent. The agreements with the farmers should have a term of up to ten years in order to offer planning security. It should start with pig farming. According to figures from the Federal Statistical Office, the number of pigs in Germany has fallen to a record low. At the beginning of November, only 21.3 million pigs were kept, 10 percent fewer than in the previous year.