Munich’s Oktoberfest, which began as a wedding in 1810, is expected to welcome 7 million visitors by October 3 and aims to become a festival in keeping with the demands of the 21st century.
It has caused such controversy that one of Germany’s largest brewers, Paulaner, has now decided to sell only organic chicken in its huge space at the party, alongside pork knuckles and sausages.
Between the traditionalists, who call the festival “woke” — a pejorative term for social consciousness — and the activists, who want visitors to eat only organic produce, stands the public.
This was absent from Paulaner’s cheaper and best-selling carnivore dish he introduced last year. A meal of an organic half chicken, “grilled and juicy,” costs €20.50 (R$108), about 50% more than the standard half chicken in the 2022 edition.
“Polaner is not the only stall selling organic chicken,” he said. Bound Susanne Kihl, of the Munich Nutrition Council, a government-funded association whose goal is to make the city — and Oktoberfest — neutral with respect to environmentally harmful emissions.
“Amer has been offering organic chicken since 2000,” she said. “But last year we saw a real movement towards organic products. Furthermore, the Munich city council began requiring organic products to allow new companies to sell their products at Oktoberfest.”
But Ammer is primarily a duck and chicken company, and Paulaner is one of Munich’s original six breweries, which has been at Oktoberfest since 1895. A pint of Paulaner, by the way, costs €14.50, or R$76.
In a report published this week by the American newspaper The Washington Post, the person responsible for the brewery tent, Arabella Schorguber, said that it was an experiment. “Organic is more expensive, but the quality is better. We want to make sure the animal has a good life. We’ll see what happens.”
While some visitors did not mind and praised the initiative, others, such as Andrea Koerner (56 years old), preferred to change stalls and choose cheaper food. “We don’t know the taste because it’s too expensive to try,” she said.
Organic beer is also in the Nutrition Council’s plans. “We already have an organic brewery in Munich, and Hacker-Pschorr is producing organic beer for another big event called Tollwood,” Kihl said.
But there’s no shortage of spoilers for activists, because, in conservatives’ view, what’s really spoiling the fun is precisely this new awareness. “It must remain a traditional folk festival, otherwise it will not be attractive,” said Clemens Baumgartner, the festival’s supervisor and member of the Christian Social Union party.
“I don’t think anyone really wants a planned economy in which a small group decides what is good for people and what is not,” echoed Thomas Gebert, head of the Bavarian Hotel and Restaurant Association, adding that people should be allowed to live. – And they eat – as they like.
Meanwhile, Susan Kheil dreams of the day when there will be no non-organic meat at Oktoberfest. “If we work on it, why not? Step by step,” she says. “But better with local, organic products!” And the deadline for this to happen? “Our goal is 2035.”
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