Zurich mandates organic food for hospitals, schools and cafeterias

Hospitals, schools, canteens and a range of other venues in Zurich will need to ensure the majority of their food is organic, after the council passed an initiative.

Organic food will become mandated in the canton of Zurich. Photo by Brad on Unsplash
Organic food will become mandated in the canton of Zurich. Photo by Brad on Unsplash

The initiative, passed on Wednesday by 71 votes to 41, stipulates that at least 50 percent of the offerings must be organic. 

It applies to retirement and care centres, hospitals, day care centres, schools, canteens and cafeterias. 

QUIZ: Would you pass Zurich’s Swiss citizenship test?

Environment and Health Director Andreas Hauri acknowledged that there may be some problems in converting over to organic food, but said he was “convinced we can still increase the proportion”. 

The city said it will now begin to examine how it can boost the proportion of organic foods to the required levels. 

The city’s nutrition strategy already calls for a greater amount of food from the surrounding region, but had previously been silent on the amount of organic food that should be included. 

While the initiative passed, there was some opposition from the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP). 

The SVP said the change was “far removed from decency and reality”, arguing that it sent the wrong signals to developing countries. 

READ MORE: Will Switzerland be able to feed itself in the future?

The initiative is “an affront to people in poor countries who do not know how to feed themselves” said the SVP’s Johann Widmer. 

The Free Democratic Party (FDP) also opposed the change, saying it was unclear how the new standards would be implemented. 

Martina Zürcher asked how the 50 percent requirement should be measured. 

“In kilograms? In francs?” she said. 

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Zurich residents concerned about being ‘pushed out’ of city

A recent survey of 10,000 people shows that the housing shortage remains a huge concern for the Zurich population.

Zurich residents concerned about being ‘pushed out’ of city

According to the survey by the Tsü portal, 60 percent of participants assume they will not be able to find another apartment in Zurich the next time they move, while three quarters expect that they will eventually end up having to move to a nearby suburb or a smaller city such as Baden, Winterthur or Schaffhausen.

READ MORE: Five commuter villages near Zurich where it’s easier to find an apartment

And 92 percent of respondents are concerned about rising rents; half said their rents are too high – on average, they pay about 650 francs too much per month.

There have been frequent reports of Zurich residents – young and elderly – being forced out of their apartments for a number of reasons, including higher rents and making room for refugees and migrants. While some choose to turn their backs on the city, many residents feel their hands are tied.

Their reason for staying? For one, the sheer lack of (affordable) housing available in Zurich. Moreover, Zurich households that have not changed residence for a long time pay less rent than those who move around.

READ MORE: Renting in Zurich: Why sticking to one apartment will save you money

In Zurich, everyone is affected by the rapidly increasing rents, including families, students, single parents, poor, middle-class singles, pensioners, migrants and even businesses.

Earlier this year, the Limmattaler Zeitung reported that musical merchandise retailer Musik Hug has decided to terminate its rental agreement which ends in 2025. The retailer had rented the premises at Limmatquai 28 for an astounding 150 years.

According to the survey participants, responsibility for the housing crisis lies with politicians, who have not undertaken any effective measures to remedy the situation.

Investors such as banks and pension funds, which own many residential buildings, are also to blame, respondents said, as they continue to raise rents in order to achieve higher returns.

READ ALSO: Zurich hit by affordable housing shortage amid record-high immigration

As for the solution to the housing shortage? The survey’s 10,000 respondents agreed on a number of solutions, such as capping rents, providing more cooperative and city apartments, controlling returns, banning Airbnb, and expropriating Credit Suisse properties.