Hessen: Offensive for sustainable food

  • fromJutta Rippegather

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Hessen’s nutrition strategy focuses on community catering and education. Environmentalists miss the involvement of trade.

Vegetables have an image problem with children: “Du Leek” is even a popular dirty word in day-care centers. Organic foods are usually more expensive. That is the second challenge that Hessen has to face. The third is logistics, said Robert Hermanowski, managing director of the Research Institute for Organic Agriculture (FiBL) in Frankfurt. There are solutions for all three. Communicating them is a focus of the Hessian nutrition strategy, which Environment Minister Priska Hinz (Greens) presented on Wednesday in Wiesbaden together with Hermanowski and the cafeteria officer at TU Darmstadt. The first focal points should be communal catering from large canteens to daycare centers as well as education – in and outside of school.

Last but not least, the Tönnies scandal has once again made many citizens aware of the influence they have in their daily decisions. “It’s not just about whether it tastes good and makes us full,” emphasized Hinz. “The selection of our food has a fundamental impact on climate protection, the preservation of biodiversity, the protection of the natural foundations of life such as water, air and soil or animal welfare.”

Your strategy provides for five fields of action. In addition to healthy and sustainable offers in community and school catering and nutritional education, strategies are also involved to prevent a third of all food ending up in the trash. The other two rely on the eco-model regions project, which, among other things, networks the local actors. The state government wants to promote the production, supply and marketing of sustainable, ecological and regional food as well as civil society engagement in this area.

eco-model region

By 2025 organic farming in Hesse is said to have a share of 25 percent of domestic agriculture. It says so in the black-green coalition agreement. The model regions have the task of developing projects that increase the proportion of organically and regionally produced food. They are now available all over Hesse. jur www.oekomodellregionen-hessen.de More about the nutrition strategy: https://umwelt.hessen.de/ernaehrungsstrategie

When it comes to education, too, Hessen partly relies on tried and tested methods. In the nutrition workshop, for example, children in grades 5 to 7 learn how food feels and smells. There are practical tips on how to deal with leftover food or how to put the refrigerator in the right place. The “calcium-containing school breakfast” offered by the Hessen section of the German Nutrition Society will be new.

The Research Institute for Organic Farming is tasked with developing a guide that is individually tailored to the respective catering facility. “It makes a big difference whether a small daycare center or a large school wants to convert the kitchen to more sustainable food,” said Managing Director Hermanowski. It is important to take the employees with you. A lot depends on your creativity – to compensate for the higher price and last but not least, so that it tastes good.

The focus would be more organic, but mainly seasonal and regionally produced foods. “If we recommend that the facilities only increase the organic share, regardless of where, then our regional agriculture will not benefit from it.” The eco-model region Lahn-Dill / Gießen is furthest. In a large project she is responsible for strengthening school meals with organic regional foods. Neither he nor the minister saw the problem of insufficient demand. “It is agriculture that is sluggish,” said the FiBL managing director. “She prefers to market her pigs in China rather than on the domestic market.”

The “100 Climate Canteen” network is due to be launched this year. One of the aspirants will be Frank Nettlenbusch’s team, operations coordinator for the TU Darmstadt student union for the Lichtwiese campus. There, the organic proportion of the canteens with their up to 10,000 meals a day is 23 percent. “We can see how well the dishes are accepted if you present sustainable and less meat-based dishes to people in a tasty way,” said the practitioner. At the same time, he warned against the raised index finger, which Hinz also explicitly wants to do without. “As long as nothing is forced on the guests, they are open to more organic and less meat and are also prepared to pay more for it.”

The Bund Umwelt und Naturschutz (BUND) welcomed the nutrition strategy. But he missed the inclusion of trade, said state manager Michael Rothkegel. Environmentally and climate-friendly shopping is impossible without clear and transparent labeling. “Politicians in particular are called upon here, but also food retailers.”

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