About 40 percent of the food produced in the U.S. is wasted annually, which is around 150,000 tons, and 10% of it is dumped by grocery stores just before it reaches its “best before” date.
On the other hand, 1 in 8 Americans struggles with hunger. See the irony?
Well, France made a huge step forward and made it illegal for grocery stores to throw out unsold food.
According to the Guardian:
“The law follows a grassroots campaign in France by shoppers, anti-poverty campaigners and those opposed to food waste. The campaign, which led to a petition, was started by the councilor Arash Derambarsh. In December a bill on the issue passed through the national assembly, having been introduced by the former food industry minister Guillaume Garot.
The law has been welcomed by food banks, which will now begin the task of finding the extra volunteers, lorries, warehouse and fridge space to deal with an increase in donations from shops and food companies.
Food banks and charities will, for their part, be obliged to collect and stock the food in proper hygienic conditions and distribute it with “dignity”. This means the food must be given out at a proper food bank or center, where human contact and conversation is fostered, rather than, for example, simply organized as handouts on the street.”
The European Union may now consider a similar continent-wide law, as the European Parliament just set a goal of cutting food waste in half by 2030.
Therefore, French charities can now give out millions of more free meals each year to people who are struggling to afford to eat.
Moreover, a growing number of unemployed, homeless people and families have been foraging in supermarket bins at night in order to find something edible, so French supermarkets are also barred from deliberately spoiling food.
The managers of supermarkets are now obliged to sign donation contracts with charities or face a penalty of €3,750.
Jacques Bailet, head of Banques Alimentaires, a network of French food banks, believes that this law is positive, and it will greatly increase an already emerging trend for supermarkets to donate to food banks:
“Most importantly, because supermarkets will be obliged to sign a donation deal with charities, we’ll be able to increase the quality and diversity of food we get and distribute. In terms of nutritional balance, we currently have a deficit of meat and a lack of fruit and vegetables. This will hopefully allow us to push for those products.”
Opponents of food waste claim that we are living in a world of rising hunger, but at the same time, we are destroying our environment.
A recent study showed that Americans throw out a pound of edible food per person daily, which is enough to feed an extra 2 billion people.
Also, over 30 million acres of land and 4 trillion gallons of water are wasted growing the food, and while producing it, Americans contribute to more greenhouse gasses than most entire countries.
Therefore, if the American government passed a similar law, we would ease climate change, address the issue of food waste, and manage to feed billions of hungry people.