SHARE
COPY LINK

MONSANTO

Bayer-Monsanto deal ‘danger for our food’: French chefs

Some of France's top chefs on Tuesday denounced the $66-billion takeover of controversial seed firm Monsanto by chemicals giant Bayer as a "danger for our dinner plates".

Bayer-Monsanto deal 'danger for our food': French chefs
A demonstration against Monsanto. File photo: DPA

“Nature, diversity and the quality of our food should not be crushed by the freedom-destroying steamroller of Bayer-Monsanto,” they declared in an open letter signed by more than 100 chefs, winemakers and patissiers.

“This new giant of seeds and pesticides has only one ambition – to control the complete food chain… citizens cannot stand by and watch their plates be filled with chemicals,” it added.

The chefs, who included the Argentina-born Mauro Colagreco, who runs the Mirazur restaurant on the French Riviera which was named the sixth best restaurant in the world earlier this year, said the EU was right to be worried by the merger.

The bloc is investigating the likely impact of the massive deal — the biggest ever undertaken by a German company — which would need the approval of regulators.

Monsanto's genetically modified crops, its herbicide Roundup and other pesticides “threaten cultural as well as agricultural diversity”, the chefs said in their letter published on the Atabula website.

“Without quality and healthy products and a diversity of crops, cooks can no longer exercise their creative talents,” added the letter, which was also signed by three-star Michelin chefs Yannick Alleno and Michel and Sebastien Bras.

Friends of the Earth have already labelled the tie-up a “marriage made in hell”.

“This mega corporation will be doing its best to force damaging pesticides and GM seeds into our countryside,” campaigner Adrian Bebb said in a statement.

The National Farmers Union in the US said the Bayer deal, along with other pending agricultural mergers, “are being made to benefit the corporate boardrooms at the expense of family farmers, ranchers, consumers and rural economies.”

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

CULTURE

Le goûter: The importance of the afternoon snack in France

The French have developed an entire cultural tradition around the idea of an afternoon snack. It's called "Le goûter" and here's what you need to know about it.

Le goûter: The importance of the afternoon snack in France

With all those patisseries and viennoiseries tempting the tastebuds in high street boulangerie after boulangerie, there can be little wonder that France  – which takes food very seriously – has also invented the correct time to eat them.

Let us introduce you to the cultural tradition of le goûter – the noun of the verb “to taste”, and a cultural tradition in France dating back into the 19th century, perhaps even as far back as the Renaissance … allowing for the fact that people have snacked for centuries, whether or not it had a formal name. 

It refers to a very particular snack time, usually at around 4pm daily. This is the good news.

The bad news is that, officially, le goûter is reserved for children. This is why many schools, nurseries and holiday activity centres offer it and offices don’t. The idea is that, because the family evening meal is eaten relatively late, this mid-afternoon snack will keep les enfants from launching fridge raids, or bombarding their parents with shouts of, “j’ai faim!”.

Most adults, with their grown-up iron will-power, are expected to be able to resist temptation in the face of all that pastry, and live on their three set meals per day. Le grignotage – snacking between meals – is frowned on if you’re much older than your washing machine.

But, whisper it quietly, but just about everyone snacks (grignoter), anyway – a baguette that doesn’t have one end nibbled off in the time it takes to travel from boulanger to table isn’t a proper baguette. Besides, why should your children enjoy all the treats? 

We’re not saying ignore the nutritionists, but if you lead an active, reasonably healthy lifestyle, a bite to eat in the middle of the afternoon isn’t going to do any harm. So, if you want to join them, feel free.

What do you give for goûter 

It’s a relatively light snack – we’re not talking afternoon tea here. Think a couple of biscuits, a piece of cake, a pain au chocolat (or chocolatine, for right-thinking people in southwest France), piece of fruit, pain au lait, a croissant, yoghurt, compote, or a slice of bread slathered in Nutella.

Things might get a little more formal if friends and their children are round at the goûter hour – a pre-visit trip to the patisserie may be a good idea if you want to avoid scratching madly through the cupboards and don’t have time to create something tasty and homemade.

Not to be confused with

Une collation – adult snacking becomes socially acceptable when it’s not a snack but part of une collation served, for example, at the end of an event, or at a gathering of some kind. Expect, perhaps, a few small sandwiches with the crusts cut off, a few small pastries, coffee and water.

L’apéro – pre-dinner snacks, often featuring savoury bites such as charcuterie, olives, crisps and a few drinks, including alcoholic ones, as a warm up to the main meal event, or as part of an early evening gathering before people head off to a restaurant or home for their evening meal.

Un en-cas – this is the great adult snacking get-out. Although, in general, snacking for grown-ups is considered bad form, sometimes it has to be done. This is it. Call it un en-cas, pretend you’re too hungry to wait for the next meal, and you’ll probably get away with it.

Le goûter in action

Pour le goûter aujourd’hui, on a eu un gâteau – For snack today, we had some cake.

Veuillez fournir un goûter à votre enfant – Please provide an afternoon snack for your child.

J’ai faim ! Je peux avoir un goûter ? – I’m hungry! Can I have a snack?

SHOW COMMENTS