How France’s Supermarkets are Combating Hunger


PARIS — France has recently declared it illegal for supermarkets to dispose of unsold goods nearing their best-by dates, as well as required supermarkets to donate these goods to charity to feed the homeless. With supermarkets wasting over 44 pounds of food a day, this legislation will help France reduce food waste, which is beneficial, not only to the environment, but to those who are combating hunger as well.

Championed by French councilor Arash Derambarsh, the law will also ban supermarkets from deliberately spoiling edible food by coating it in bleach in order to prevent the homeless from foraging in supermarkets’ trash bins. With even 15 percent of the edible food that would have been discarded going to food banks and charities, approximately 10 million more meals can be distributed.

In addition to this groundbreaking legislation preventing the waste of edible food, Intermarché, France’s third-largest supermarket retailer, has also begun selling “ugly” fruit— fruit that is still completely edible, but is not up to normalized aesthetic standards for produce— at a 30 percent discount compared to their “beautiful” cousins.

These “ugly” fruits are great options for people on a budget and help combat food waste. They are also an additional source of income for farmers. Rather than throwing away up to 40 percent of their crops because they do not meet cosmetic standards, farmers can profit from the misfits of the produce world, and simultaneously, provide fresh fruits and vegetables to families who otherwise could not afford them.

Food-waste legislation is an important step toward combating hunger issues around the world. Campaigners for the food waste bill in French supermarkets hope to spread the benefits of adopting an eco-conscious mindset in the supermarkets around the European Union; and, eventually, that legislation may find its way to the United States.

Since Americans waste around $165 billion a year by throwing away food, perhaps the U.S. will follow France’s example and use that food to feed the homeless instead.

Bayley McComb

Photo: Flickr


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