While a government-sanctioned local food movement might be a distant dream for American locavores, it’s currently becoming a reality in Russia where President Vladimir Putin recently banned a long list of imported foods from the country’s stores. The move is a reaction by the Russian autocrat against countries including the United States, Canada and the whole European Union amongst others, which placed sanctions on Russia in response to the conflict in the Ukraine.
One might wonder how a country that currently imports 40 percent of its food and that has very little in the way of agricultural infrastructure will feed itself in the absence of imported foods. But it seems the DIY spirit is strong in Russia and citizens who support Putin are keen to become independent when it comes to food production.
According to Treehugger, one supporter of the move (@Eduard Bagirov) tweeted “Our food producers now have the opportunity of a lifetime. If they screw it up now, they should stop complaining that no one buys their crap.” [Obscenities removed by Treehugger.] Before he knew cola and tea wouldn’t be banned, another supporter, Yegor Kholmgorov wrote “I can survive perfectly well in a world without Polish apples, Dutch tomatoes, Latvian sprats, American cola, Australian beef and English tea, especially if this results in a substituting expansion of Russian agribusiness and food industry.”
Katherine Martinko of Treehugger posits that Russian authorities think the $6 billion worth of lost income the sanctioning countries will experience this year will hurt their economies more than the banned products will affect the Russian economy. But she notes that Bloomberg is reporting the Russian Micex stock has already lost about one third of that figure since the food ban was announced on August. 6, 2014.