Netherlands to be on the top of the food chain


It must have been about 10 years ago, that I became aware of the difference in attitude towards food between Germans and Dutch. I was having dinner with a German friend, when she joked over a slice of quadruple-stranded DNA tomato, that the Dutch were a clever people, packaging sea water into little red bags and selling these ‘water bombs’ worldwide as tomatoes. My reply that apparently the world was stupid enough to buy said water bombs was less well received…

Germans want their food to be ‘bio’: organically grown, without the use of fertilizer or pesticides. The section for ‘bio’ food products in supermarkets shows a continuous growth, on the expense of their non-bio counterparts and ‘bio’ supermarkets pop up on more and more street corners. Living in Munich for over four years, I must admit that I haven’t done any serious grocery shopping in the Netherlands as of lately. I do have the impression, though, that this awareness for the origin and nature of food stuffs is far less pronounced in the Netherlands than here in Germany.

I will thus be very interested to see how minister for agriculture Gerda Verburg’s plans for sustainable food (report ‘Duurzaam Voedsel’) will become effective. The goal is ambitious: “the Netherlands must lead the way worldwide to a sustainable and climate neutral production of food stuffs and be at the top of this movement by 2015” (source (German)). Considering that the Netherlands are apparently the second largest exporter of agricultural products, and on a budget of 20 million euro, this goal might even be viable.

Intensive campaigning and convincing marketing must raise the interest and awareness of the Dutch consumer for sustainable food products and set the trend for choosing ‘bio’. Additionally, the minister plans to fight the enormous waste of food products. An estimated 1.6 million euro worth of food is thrown away in the Netherlands on an annual basis and another 2 billion euro is lost during production and transport.

I think that the only way to get anyone, including the Dutch, to buy ‘bio’ is to make sure that it’s at the same price level as regular food stuffs. I do hope, however, that the minister’s plans include other options than a massive subsidy on bio products, and that a large part of the cash will be invested in research and development. After all, the Netherlands can’t continue to sell water bombs to the world…



  1. Eric says:

    Come to think of it, 1.6 million euro worth of food being thrown away per year is actually not that bad. Consider this: the Netherlands has 16 million inhabitants. That makes 1.6 million to be only 10 euro cents per person per year. Hm… Is my calculation b0rked or did niederlandeweb miss a zero or two?

  2. Orangemaster says:

    What is bad is those shitty tomatoes. They are disgusting.

  3. Darth Paul says:

    @ Eric- it’s probably their typo; likely 1.6 billion. And no doubt only hard agricultural commodities were rated. FEBO/other fast foods, restaurant purchases, takeouts, bakery products, etc were probably not included.

    Still, I have to admire that such a sustainable plan is even being considered, shitty tomatoes or not.

  4. Eric says:

    @Darth Paul: You’re prolly right. I’m too lazy to check The Source[tm] — being minister Verburg’s report rather than the online article — though ;-P

  5. Wenslauw says:

    Most of the Dutch don’t care much about food, period. You can eat at a colleague’s place and he or she’ll make you something that came from two or three Unilever bags that just needed some water and a good boil… And they’ll present it without even blushing…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL