Food News

Russian food wars: Where politicians lead, will tragedy follow?

Having never been to Russia, I can only say that I am highly intrigued by the country and would one day love to walk in Red Square, view the vast tundras of Siberia, or perhaps even travel as far afield as Vladivostok in order to see Asian Russia. That said, while I would of course be very keen to try Russian food, I would hope that I’d be allowed to travel through a country where food is not consistently trumped by politics.

The Russian food war was initially a response to western sanctions put in place due to the issues surrounding the annexation of the Crimea region and the continued issues in Ukraine, but the real losers of this food war are the Russian people.

Despite the fact that foreign food often plays second fiddle to some excellent Russian cuisine, the Russian government has essentially done the equivalent of saying that here in Britain we are going to remove all the wonderful Chinese products that go into making a beef and black bean dish, instead replacing them with a British equivalent (e.g. a runner bean)!

With this in mind, Russians have gone to extreme lengths to try to create western style cheeses (as well as other foods) that have essentially been a complete failure while the government and some rather over zealous food police have shown their might by working together to destroy tonnes of food that has been illegally imported (essentially being repackaged in Belarus with a ‘Russian’ label).

In Leeds we have our wonderful real junk food project and the UK in general has been working on minimising food waste as much as possible, so this is a rather tragic turn of events seeing so much food that could feed so many hungry people around the world being wasted.

Sure, the politics is there to send a message out to the west that Russian is defiant and can survive without our food (as well as many other things) but surely this is a case where the real tragedy is the destruction of food that could feed the hungry in Russia.

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