Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Growing concern about food in the Netherlands

Due to a number of factors the nature and future of food is becoming more and more of a concern for the Dutch. In the month of November two films were released, We Feed the World, by the Austrian director Erwin Wagenhofer, and Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. Both are documentaries that give a frightening look on our future. Wagenhofer focuses directly on food, but Gore’s more general message happened to coincide with the news that the seas might well be empty of fish fifty years from now (and Holland beneath the waves of those seas).

The Dutch IACP members are in the midst of this, trying to inform themselves constantly and so be able to inform their readers. Like elsewhere in the world the problem of obesitas is growing rapidly. Truths about food shift every few months, and the large food industries seem to have a tight grip on the public information institutions, proof of which was the nominations of several kinds of lower fat snacks like French fries, mayonnaise and cake for the Annual Good Food Prize by the official Dutch Food Information Centre, say opponents. “Low fat fries and mayonnaise are still fat and should not be promoted in such a way,” they argue.

In the elections for the Tweede Kamer, the Dutch House of Representatives, the new Party for the Animals got two seats (out of a 150). This is clearly part of a movement that doubts the regular production of food and particularly wants to reform the meat production and a more respectful attitude toward animals mend for slaughter.
Sales of biological and health foods have risen surprisingly the last year, after a couple of years of stagnation. This may also be due to the recent economic growth and risen consumer confidence. However, like in Britain, demand of biological produce is now exceeding supply, which may result in higher prices that would make the price difference with regular foodstuffs even larger, something nobody is looking forward to, and that includes the producers that have a long term view.

Onno Kleyn
IACP Member, Netherlands

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