At the end of January 2023, the EU approved two new insect species as novel foods. For example, house crickets and lesser mealworms in specific forms may now be marketed as a food ingredient in a number of food products. Certain insects are also approved for use in food processing in Switzerland and have long been considered an environmentally friendly source of protein.
Protein is a key component in a healthy, balanced diet. However, the majority of protein consumed by humans derives from animals and is extremely resource-intensive to produce. What might alternatives look like? And what needs to happen to enable alternative protein products to end up in consumers’ baskets? At the Swiss-Food Talk, three experts considered the issues.
We are reliant on optimized foodstuffs in order to supply the planet’s growing population with healthy, sustainably produced food. However, consumers often view these as “artificial”, and thus “unnatural” – and “natural” is the preferred choice. Of our everyday foods, however, very few are of “natural origin”. They have been optimized by humans over the course of time. But are supposedly “natural” products also healthier and more sustainable? Three presenters took an in-depth look at food optimization in this Swiss-Food Talk.
The potato harvest is not looking good this year. There is a shortfall of 100,000 tonnes, as reported by the Aargauer Zeitung. According to potato producers, this is a drop of 30 per cent compared to the long-term average.
Lab-grown meat is approved for consumption in the USA for the first time – this openness to new technologies is also needed in Eu
Lab-grown meat could revolutionise nutrition. But in Europe it is partly banned as a precaution. Yet new technologies are essential if the world's population is to be fed without destroying the environment, writes Matthias Benz in the NZZ.
"Even with little processed food, you can cook yourself an unhealthy meal - and poison yourself fabulously"
Additives in food unsettle many people. But do thickeners and emulsifiers really harm us? Food chemist Daniel Wefers dispels prejudices - because some additives are actually beneficial for the body.
The federal government has pledged to reduce sugar intake in Switzerland. Going forward, a wide variety of food products are to contain less sugar, or be labeled with their sugar content. This has put sugar beet cultivation under pressure. Yet “the dose makes the poison” also applies to sugar consumption, so there may still be a meaningful future for sugar beet growing in Switzerland.
In the past few years, consumer attention has centered on organic and high-end products, with eco-friendliness serving as a key decision-making factor. Now, rising inflation is shifting that focus. Increasingly, price is taking center stage, a trend highlighted by the growth in sales of more budget-friendly brands.
The nutrition of the future should ensure access to the necessary nutrients for all people and be healthy for the planet. That is the goal. However, developing this kind of “planetary health diet” is not so easy. In the Swiss-Food Talk, experts in science and industry discussed what healthy, environmentally friendly nutrition should look like. One thing is clear: Sustainable food must suit the tastes of the people, meet the specific local needs, and must be affordable.
Prof. Thomas Ellrott from the Georg-August-University in Göttingen spoke at an event of the branch organization Swisscofel about food as a pseudo-religion His thesis: Eating is no longer just the simple intake of calories. Today, food is a lifestyle product that people use to showcase themselves. It's about identity. And to be on the "right side".
Scared to death: These ‘Toxic Ten’ chemicals have been widely detected in many commonly-consumed fruits and vegetables
The Toxic Ten are chemicals in your family’s refrigerator and the government does nothing to stop it; it even takes steps to increase their level in food. They are prevalent in the American diet. Studies in animals have shown that they can pose a significant risk to health. By Kevin Folta in The Genetic Literacy Project.
Many consumers are of the opinion that vegetarian products are unhealthier and more harmful to the environment than meat. This is shown by a study by ETH Zurich. The negative attitude is also reflected in purchases. Vegetarian products are still niche products.
When buying food, Swiss consumers pay more attention to the price than to sustainability labels. One reason for this might be that many are not aware of what the labels mean. In addition, more and more people are buying their groceries online. This is the result of a survey by the retailer organization Swiss Retail Federation.
Using bacteria, researchers in Scotland have succeeded in making vanillin out of plastic waste. This opens up the possibility of transforming plastic waste into a product that is in demand all over the world, thereby benefiting both the environment and food producers.
Producing animal-based products is a very resource-intensive process. And for a wide variety of reasons, some people refrain from eating meat and/or dairy products. This is why companies are conducting more research into “animal-free” animal products.
Royal DSM strives to reduce malnutrition around the world, lower emissions from animal farming and strengthen the livelihoods of small farmers by 2030.
Climate change and environmental problems will change our eating habits. The food of the future will have to be both good for us – and good for the planet.