Toma Nota

Forbidden Food in Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a cup of tea in Moscow's Kremlin on Wednesday, May 9, 2012.

Sometimes the gastronomy industry—and the entire economy for that matter—is used as a pretext for other kinds of activities, in this case political ones. Political tensions between Russia and European countries like Ukraine have grown in recent years and even more so in these past months. Due to various conflicts in which Russia has taken a very extreme political stance, Western entities like the European Union and the United States have imposed a series of sanctions on this country directed by Putin, concretely on banks, petroleum companies, and other public business in the country.

The government response to this has reached gastronomy. Several days ago, it was declared that “following a presidential decree made by Putin, Russia adopts the policy prohibiting all importation of beef, pork, vegetables and plant products, fruits, fowl, fish, cheese, milk and lactose products.” These extreme measures mean great losses in the European gastronomic exportation market. According to the Russian government, more than 350 tons of “prohibited” food has already been destroyed since the degree came into effect—and they plan on continuing to destroy this food. The Russian Ministry of Agriculture has also demanded “food crematoriums” so that they can quickly reduce the products to ashes and ease this process of destruction.

At this point, if the political sanctions in the EU are not removed, the Russian government intends to maintain this situation during at least a year. The goods that are most exported from Europe to Russia and those that are believed will suffer the greatest losses are fruits, cheese, pork, and vegetables.