One of the priorities of the French government is to give everyone the opportunity to have access to high quality food and be able to enjoy their meal. To address this issue, the Council for economic, social and environmental issues (Conseil économique, social et environnemental, CESE) adopted a resolution titled “Fostering a broader access to quality, healthy and balanced food for everyone.” From education to reducing food waste, this declaration proposes a wide range of measures.

To address the priorities of the French government regarding food, the Council for economic, social and environmental issues (Conseil économique, social et environnemental, CESE) adopted a resolution titled “Fostering a broader access to quality, healthy and balanced food for everyone”. From reducing food waste to bolstering local productions, this resolution deals with food insecurity and its associated challenges at all levels.

The CESE is a public consultation body consisting of 18 study groups, each focusing on a particular topic. These groups write opinions on their respective topics and submit them to a vote from the whole council. These opinions then serve to inform the government and lawmakers during their deliberation of new laws and policies.

©Xavier Remongin/Min.agri.fr Meal in the Cafeteria of Saint-Fargeau-Pont-Thierry

©Xavier Remongin/Min.agri.fr Meal in the Cafeteria of Saint-Fargeau-Pont-Thierry

Starting by acknowledging the breadth of the issue, the CESE posited that food insecurity should be handled at different levels. First, on a social level, action must be taken to raise awareness on the importance of a balanced, sufficient and nutritious diet. For example, over the past 40 years, the share of household’s expenses dedicated to food dropped from 30% to 16%. In order for people to regain interest in quality and healthy food, education is a key element, should it take place at school, at the cafeteria or even in the public media. Educating consumers to better value local productions is another way to strengthen the social bond between the consumers and the food industry.

The CESE also considered it necessary to take measures such as economic incentives and clearer labeling. The price reduction of nearly expired food and the lowering of taxes for primary commodities are two measures among the propositions. On a sanitary level, the CESE wants to focus on the issue of immediate and mid or long-term toxicities as well as set target nutritional values of ingredients that are potentially harmful for human health like salt, sugar or hydrogenated oils.

© Min.Agri.Fr

© Min.Agri.Fr

The Council paid very close attention to the role of children in this debate because they are ones hit hardest by current shifts in French food habits. Nowadays, for example, young people buy 4 times less fruits and vegetables than did the previous generation. Educating children about better nutrition is crucial but; in addition, they should be made aware of their roles and responsibilities as active consumers.