As parts of its efforts in reducing climate change, France is taking a new look at one of its most important relationships: how the country relates to food. Two big developments in the country’s food industry have taken place in the past month having to do with local, quality food and reducing food waste. Here’s a look at each of the developments:

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PROMOTING LOCAL FOOD

First, the Ministry of Agriculture released a comprehensive guide promoting the use of quality local food sources in public institutions like schools, hospitals, retirement homes and nurseries – a huge section of any country’s food services industry. The plan goes step-by-step through the process of procuring food sources in public institutions, highlighting key ways the use of local food can be promoted and the benefits of local sources to the institutions, the economy and the environment.

The use of local food has many known benefits, including reducing the impact on the environment, promoting the local economy and encouraging people to have a deeper connection with their local communities. Taking into account the growing public demand for local products, the French government has fixed a goal of attaining 40% local food in public institutions by 2017.

Using signs of quality and origin are also strongly encouraged by the guide, as they are proof of a connection to a geographic location and are widely known as a guarantee of quality. Official government labeling of things like organic foods, protected geographic origin and others are important tools for consumers and producers to ensure quality products.

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FOOD WASTE

Directly related to this is another big event in French food news during the past month that involves fighting against food waste. The French National Assembly unanimously passed the anti-food waste bill which aims to dramatically reduce the amount of food needlessly thrown out in France.

Fighting food waste is an important tool in the struggle against climate change. The production of food products represents an important contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, so any food that is thrown out instead of eaten effectively means that CO2 was released into the atmosphere needlessly. If this can be limited as much as possible, the negative effects of the food industry on climate change can be reduced.

The law takes big steps to do just that. Among the many things the law requires is for supermarkets to reduce their food waste by donating unused food products to charitable organizations, reinforcing food education in French schools to encourage a healthy relationship with food, and integrating the fight against food waste into the COP21 Paris climate talks.

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

The law puts in place a series of steps to take to prevent waste of unsold food. First, institutions are to attempt to find a way to donate the food to charities. If that does not succeed, they are to donate the food for animal use, and finally they are then instructed to use the food products for composting, thus dramatically limiting the amount of food that can be wasted throughout the entire food production chain.

Both of these big ideas contribute to France’s longstanding efforts to reduce the impact of agriculture on climate change. By using local, quality food sources, carbon emissions are reduced and the local economy gets a boost – plus, by promoting signs of quality of origin, the food just tastes better. And by making big strides to reduce France’s food waste, less carbon dioxide is wasted in production and charitable organizations get a boost in donations. These are win-win solutions for everyone, and play a beneficial role in France’s famous relationship with food.