As I am sitting in a bare-walled apartment, my bags packed and my train ticket for the trip home tomorrow printed out, I have started to reflect back on my time here in Brussels, and I hope to share some of the thoughts and experiences I had soon. But until that time, I have found interesting tidbits of food policy and news from around the world – and I hope you will have time for some leisurely perusal this weekend!
From the USA: A concerning and well thought-out critique of the practice of grassroots food movements accepting funding from the Walmart Foundation. It touches upon the larger question of non-profit funding, influence and independence, while still keeping the tone professional and empathetic to the financial struggle. Food for thought for sure.
From Europe: The EU is making more and better strides to communicate effectively with its populace. The last example is the entry in force of new food labelling laws, which you can read upon in the legal text (if you are really into it) or check out in this approachable infographic. Though civil society organizations are unhappy that no “traffic light system” was put into place, these new labelling requirements will bring a considerable amount of light on the way our food is produced. For instance, allergens have to be highlighted, it is mandatory to explain when meat has been “reconstituted” (ew?) or water has been added; and there is a minimum font size for mandatory information. Baby steps forward!
From Japan: Apparently Japan has installed a pre-Christmas butter rationing regime since demand outpaces supply. I had no idea butter is such a popular ingredient, but apparently it’s widely used in cakes, specifically for the holidays. Now, an unusually hot summer in the dairy basked of Hokkaido, coupled with market protection policies that place high barriers on imports, means that butter shortages are on the horizon. Really interesting case study how local market protection can backfire when it’s not implemented flexibly enough.
From Lima: Or, more precisely, Washington, but on the Lima process – the CGIAR has published a great summary of where agriculture can (and cannot) be found within the climate change negotiations. (Un)fun fact – during the Lima COP now in December, agriculture was not even a separate agenda point. Sad face. See here for the CGIAR’s info note recommending how to incorporate agriculture – one of the sectors with the highest emissions in comparison – into climate mitigation action.
And finally, one last point that has its basis in US research, but which might well be universal – a large study of 11,000 current and former vegetarians found that “an astonishing 84% of vegetarians and vegans go back to eating meat. Of those, 53% relapse within a year, and more than 30% can’t last three months. The researchers termed these results “disappointing.”” They also identified that “social consequences of ditching meat played a big role as well, whether it’s a lack of support from friends or concerns over being the only picky eater during a group outing.” Interesting, if sad? Read more about the findings here.