Recovering Drug Addictions and Nutrition (Germany)

At a Glace

  • This case study originated from a dietitian in Germany who shared their story via a webinar hosted by the ICDA-SFS Toolkit Team.
  • The European food laws stating that only 100% perfect fruits and vegetables created an opportunity to reduce food waste and save money for recovering drug addicts in Germany.
  • Lessons Learnt: The fruits and vegetables from distributers that they are required not to sell due to produce not being “100% perfect”, can be helpful in practicing the reduction of food waste and using this produce to create jams, chutney’s, etc. that can be used in meals and donated.


The laws around food and food distribution are different from region to region and can have an impact on what happens to food throughout the food system, specifically in the process of distribution. The European food laws restrict distributors from selling any fruits or vegetables that are not 100% perfect. For example, “if a single peach in a tray has small damages, the whole tray is not allowed to be sold”, as explained from the source of this case study. With such a high standard for fruits and vegetables, distributors try to find reliable partners that can pick up and further process the fruits and vegetables that are not able to be sold. Fortunately, the Dietitian for an open living community for recovering drug addicts in Germany was able to take advantage of these distributors and their produce.

Implementation & Impact

An open living community for recovery drug addicts in Germany consists of professional individuals, including a Dietitian, that aim to help strengthen the overall life competences of these members. Part of their therapy includes working in social agriculture, which opened the opportunity to help create a sustainable solution for the food waste created through fruit and vegetable distribution.

The Dietitian organized for the members of this community to gather the produce and goods from the distributors twice a week, while also learning how to filter out the fine fruits and vegetables that can be used for future consumption. After filtering through the produce, the members are able to, through guidance, process these fruits and vegetables into jams, juice, chutneys, syrup, cakes and much more. These products are then added to their meal plans to help increase fruit and vegetable consumption in a sustainable, hands on way, which helps to create a sense of pride and value to the members of this community.

Any over production of these products are then given away as donations from the members of this open living community. In addition, through the money they saved by resourcing this produce, they were able to buy a pool table for their personal gratification and hard work. Through this initiative, the group members learn resourceful skills in reducing food waste, while also creating personal competencies that are useful in many aspects of recovery.

Photo by: Daria Gudoshnikova via Unsplash

Food for Thought
What laws or regulations could communities/groups within your region benefit from that could also optimize food waste?
In addition to food waste, what other topic of social/environmental sustainability is being impacted by this initiative?
Should dietitians play a role in ensuring the reduction of food waste from these distributors? If so, what role?

Contact Information
There is no contact information available at this time.

Dietary Guidelines for the Brazilian Population (2014, 2019)

At a Glance

  • National guidelines published by Ministry of Health of Brazil in 2014
  • In 2019 Brazil developed Dietary Guidelines for children under 2 years old
  • There are resources on there website for citizens as well as health professionals, community workers, educators, and capacity building trainers
  • Offers a unique industrializing nation perspective
  • Available in Spanish, Portuguese and English

The 2014 Dietary Guidelines for the Brazilian Population (DGBP) are the second edition of official national dietary guidelines for the country. The creation of these guidelines involved a public consultation process “that allowed its broad debate by various sectors of society and guided the construction of the final version” (pg. 6).

In 2019 Brazil developed Dietary Guidelines for children under 2 years old. There are several other products and resources for different target audiences on their website.

The guidelines are remarkable for a number of reasons. They:

  1. Encompass biological, social, cultural, economic and political aspects of healthy diets and take a holistic approach that integrates nutrition and sustainability.
  2. Make relevant connections between the nutritional quality of food and the social and environmental impacts of food production and distribution as well as economic sustainability, especially for small, sustainable producers.
  3. Recognize and celebrate the “knowledge implicit in the creation and development of traditional dietary patters” (pg. 21).
  4. Explicitly identify the impact of the processed food industry and how rapidly shifting food environments flooded with processed and ultra-processed foods from a globalized market present a particular challenge to healthy and sustainable diets as well as local agricultural ecosystems and economies.

The DGBP are unique amongst national dietary guidelines in offering an industrializing nation perspective that focuses on the rapid changes in dietary patterns and food systems being experienced by economically emerging countries. These include shifts towards more industrialized food systems that are “displacing natural or minimally processed foods of plant origin…and the preparation of meals based on these foods with industrialized food products that are ready for consumption…[leading to] various ill-effects including an imbalance in the supply of nutrients and an excess of dietary energy.” (pg. 17).

Speaking from and to the experience of being in the midst of this dietary transition, the guidelines clearly articulate the detrimental influence and impact of the processed food industry and misleading food advertising. They note a transition in “the environment in which food is sold, bought and consumed…[with] thousands of branded ultra-processed foods” being easily available and heavily promoted while at the same time “natural or minimally processed foods are sold in well-stocked supermarkets that quite often are a distance from where people live and work” (pg. 107).

These guidelines are particularly relevant for industrializing countries undergoing rapid industrialization of food systems and experiencing both under- and over-nutrition and developing dietary guidelines for the first time. They offer robust examples of language around:

  • a vision for healthy and sustainable diets
  • valuing and celebrating the knowledge embedded in traditional dietary patterns
  • the links between health and the social, economic and environmental sustainability of food production
  • the importance of cultural aspects of food such as cooking skills and eating together
  • the influence of the processed food industry

Contact Information
Ministry of Health of Brazil