Wheat and sunflower oil are becoming scarce and expensive because of Russian aggression against major producer Ukraine. Radical plans by German MPs to do something about this are circulating in the European Parliament. It goes against the “luxury vegetable” asparagus.
The German asparagus season ends on Friday. If the green MEP Jutta Paulus has her way, she can remain the last one for the time being. In view of the bottlenecks caused by the loss of large parts of agricultural production in Ukraine, which was invaded by Russia, Paulus is targeting the “white gold”, for which 18 percent of the open-air cultivation area for vegetables is reserved in this country – according to the Federal Center for Nutrition, more than for any other German country Vegetables.
The Green Party is angry that a “luxury vegetable” is harvested from the asparagus fields “in a very limited period of time”, and they cannot be used for anything else for the rest of the year. “You could also grow wonderful food on these soils, which might be available to a larger section of the population,” suggested the MEP recently in a video conference.
The pampered German cult sticks, which, like every year, disappear from the market on June 24th, St. John’s Day, to the regret of their admirers, have a low nutritional value of around twelve kilocalories per 100 grams. This is offset by a comparatively high effort to wrest the sensitive vegetables from the ground.
Asparagus officinalis takes a long time to ask before it sprout from the – preferably sandy – soil. Preparing a suitable site can take up to three years. A whole lot of green manure, stable manure and liquid manure are needed for this. The young asparagus plants generally only yield a short harvest in the second year after planting. After the third year, the well-known special foils are usually used, under which the growth unfolds fully. The harvest, which begins in April, ends on June 24th to give the plants time to rest and strengthen until autumn.
There is no question that the Green Paulus is right about one thing: asparagus is a luxury vegetable, which is usually reflected in its price, even if there have been slumps this year. Only: Do we really have to tackle the white splendor now in order to avert a food crisis? Martin Häusling, agricultural expert for the Greens in the European Parliament, says about the general German supply situation: “We don’t have to fear that we won’t get anything to eat.” Those who suffered from the deliberate use of starvation weapons by Russian President Vladimir Putin lived in the Middle East and in Africa .
Loud pleas for reactivation regularly come from the CDU/CSU deputies in the European Parliament. They just sent a letter to the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, in which they called for a “European food summit”. Their specific demand is: “Two-year suspension of the set-aside obligation of four percent of agricultural land in the new Common Agricultural Policy, which will come into force in 2023. The potential of our soil must not remain unused.” In an accompanying press release, the five agricultural politicians from the CDU/CSU group did not spare their criticism of party colleague von der Leyen. She “lacks the idea of how European farmers can help to make their contribution against the food shortage in the world,” was the harsh verdict.
Star restaurateur Sarah Wiener, a member of the European Parliament for the Austrian Greens, suspects that the industrial agricultural lobby now sees its time. She wants to use the global food crisis caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine as an opportunity to roll back the environmental protection goals of EU agricultural policy. In addition, according to her German colleague Häusling: “Many are doing their business with it at the moment.” There are “also profiteers from the crisis among food producers”.
Wiener does not want to impose any further burdens on the consumers who have been shaken by this, and who are already rubbing their eyes at the price of sunflower oil. Feed for animals for slaughter accounts for a large proportion of grain utilization in Germany and the EU. That is why green business games were created to increase VAT on meat. However, Wiener judges: “Increasing the price of meat now, especially in times of inflation, would not be the method of choice.”
The price shock comes all by itself anyway. The Green Federal Minister of Agriculture Cem Özdemir told the “Rheinische Post” that higher food prices are to be expected in autumn and winter, which would reflect the increased energy bills of producers. At this time the asparagus is still dormant.Ande