France recently joined Italy in making it illegal for grocery stores to dump or destroy good food. Instead of letting 1 in 8 Americans go hungry, maybe we should do this too.
An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, around 150,000 tons.
Around 10 percent of that is thrown out by grocery stores just before it reaches its expiration or “best before” date.
Meanwhile, 1 in 8 Americans struggles with hunger.
Italy and now France have put an end to this waste by making it illegal for grocery stores to throw out or destroy unsold food, and now the European Union may consider a similar continent-wide law, as the European Parliament just set a goal of cutting food waste in half by 2030.
Charities in France are now able to give out millions more free meals each year to people struggling to afford to eat.
French supermarkets are also barred from deliberately spoiling food in order to stop it from being eaten by people foraging in stores’ trash bins.
In recent years, growing numbers of families, students, unemployed and homeless people in France (and America) have been foraging in supermarket bins at night to feed themselves.
People had been finding edible products thrown out just as their best-before dates approached. Some supermarkets even doused binned food in bleach, allegedly to prevent foragers from getting food poisoning. Other supermarkets deliberately kept food in locked warehouses for collection by garbage trucks.
Now supermarket managers will have to sign donation contracts with charities or face a penalty of €3,750.
A recent study found Americans throw out a pound of edible food per person per day, enough to feed an extra 2 billion people.
Meanwhile, 55 million people around the world struggle to find food,
Opponents of food waste say it is not only unethical in a world of rising hunger but also environmentally destructive.
More than 30 million acres of land and 4 trillion gallons of water are wasted growing this food.
Additionally, producing the food Americans throw away generates more greenhouse gasses than most entire countries do, 3 billion tons.
This National Geographic article suggests we could ease climate change significantly simply by reducing food waste.
Maybe it’s time the American government put people over profits and passed a similar law.