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Self-sufficiency Would the Swiss starve if all imports were blocked?

A plate of potatoes

Mealtime in an import-free future

(Keystone)

If, in a crisis, all imports to Switzerland were stopped, the Swiss population would still be guaranteed enough to eat – although people would have to tighten their belts. 

Each citizen would have to get by on 2,340 calories a day, compared with the current average daily intake of 3,015 calories, according to calculations published on Thursday by Agroscopeexternal link for the Federal Office for National Economic Supplyexternal link. This lower amount is still above most recommendationsexternal link by the Swiss Society for Nutrition. 

Self-sufficiency, also known as autarky, would mean people would have to adapt their diets. The biggest change would concern meat: pork and poultry, even eggs, would rarely be seen on plates. Use of sugar and cooking oil would also have to be reduced. Beer and wine would “basically be taboo”, Agroscope said. 

Instead, shelves would be full of potatoes, baked goods and local vegetables. More milk would be consumed fresh, rather than being used for cheese – and all available meadows would be used to produce milk. 

The livestock population would also change drastically, the study said. Farmers would be more likely to keep animals that ate roughage than animals that ate concentrated feed. As a result, the number of fattened pigs and poultry would drop by around 90% since it is more efficient to use vegetables for energy directly than to refine them for animal feed. 

The calculations assumed that the authorities could still import hatching eggs for poultry production, fertiliser and pesticides.

SDA-ATS/ts

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