Science - November 10, 2015

LEI answers ‘best question 2015’

Koen Guiking

Can the Netherlands be self- sufficient? The magazine Quest thought this was the best readers question of 2015. LEI researcher Petra Berkhout answers an important part of that question in the magazine: is there enough food?

Photo: Cover of Quest 101 2015

The Netherlands can grow enough food for 17 million people, but our diet would be very different, Berkhout explains in the autumn edition of Quest. We would not reach two ounces of fruit without importing oranges, grapes and bananas, but we would have more than enough vegetables, such as carrots, onions and cabbage. A piece of chicken would be likely, but the production of pork requires more resources, so we can better exclude it, Berkhout advises.

It is the best question of 2015, according to Quest, but LEI Wageningen UR already answered this food question in 2013. At that time it published a report ‘Voedselvoorziening in Nederland onder buitengewone crisisomstandigheden’ (Food supply in the Netherlands under extraordinary crisis circumstances) commissioned by the ministry of Economic Affairs. However, the popular science magazine took it a little further. It also searched for answers to the questions if we can still build machines without import and export, if a Dutch family could afford a car and if there would be enough electricity and gas to keep households and industries running.