Turkey: Erdogan Takes on Bread Waste
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has recently gone into Turks' bedrooms, calling on Turkish families to have at least three children each in order to keep the country's population growing. Now the mercurial PM is going into his citizens' kitchens, kicking off a new campaign aimed at stopping what he described as the problem of bread waste, an issue that few Turks had probably ever given any thought to.
Yesterday, Erdogan helped kick off a new campaign organized by Turkey's Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock, which plans to tackle this newly-discovered problem of bread waste. Reports the Wall Street Journal:
On Thursday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan turned his attention for a brief moment to bread: the backbone of every meal in Turkey, where bakers put out 37 billion loaves a year.
The premier said wasting bread is tantamount to greed, which lies at the root of economic crises and wars. Turkey, he said, can’t afford to squander 2 billion loaves of bread annually while the country needs to encourage savings and millions worldwide suffer from hunger.
That catapulted the puffy white loaves of dough, which are not nutritious but filling and rich in flavor, into the center of political debate. It also brought Mr. Erdogan, who is ever-present in the lives of Turkey’s 75 million people but not known for culinary curiosity, into the kitchen.
“From now on, we must enter a new period in the business of bread. Let’s remove the so-called white bread from our tables, let’s produce pure, genuine wheat bread, and in addition, let’s bring to the table bread with a high ratio of bran in it,” Mr. Erdogan said in Ankara.
Erdogan had recently gone on a tour of several African countries and the poverty he witnessed there appears to have shaped some of his thinking on the issue of food waste. But as worthy as the subject of nutrition may be, for now this new Turkish campaign comes off as half baked. In his Thursday speech, Erdogan seemed to suggest that by eating less bread in their own country, Turks could somehow help alleviate hunger and malnutrition problems in other parts of the world. Will Turkey now start shipping its day-old bread to Africa? Perhaps direct aid for hunger relief in Africa might be a better approach.
Meanwhile, this new campaign offers very little indication of how it plans to get Turks to cut back on their wasteful bread eating ways. Looking through a Ministry of Agriculture web page devoted to the new campaign, I could find very few specific action items, beyond the issuing a "stale bread" cookbook. Considering that Turkish cooks already use old bread when making kofte (grilled meatballs), perhaps the answer is not to eat less bread but eat more kofte.