October 16, the French Ministry of Agriculture hosted a national initiative to raise awareness about reducing food waste. The event, held in Paris, was part of a broader campaign to reach the ambitious goal of decreasing food waste in France by 50% by 2025. Five thousand people gathered in Republic Square (Place de la République) to take part in this event.
Organizations, bloggers, and chefs shared several simple, everyday gestures that could help avoid wasting food. The techniques ranged from planning your weekly meals to reusing leftovers in a creative and tasty way. For example, dry bread can be “recycled” into delicious garlic croutons for a soup in the week’s leftovers.
The visitors also witnessed how avoiding food waste can serve as a nationwide act of solidarity. The government, schools, and private organizations can collaborate on broader projects to raise awareness about improving food security and consuming in a more efficient way. Visitors displayed particular interest in projects such as the “waste-meter” and a professional rehabilitation program by the French Association for the Development of Solidarity Groceries (ANDES).
The “waste-meter” was implemented in four high schools from the Mayenne region (western-central France) to raise student awareness about the extent to which high schools waste food, and how to reduce it. This project also allowed cafeteria cooks to identify meals that generate more waste than others. This action was intended to increase student’s understanding of food consumption while at school.
The ANDES association is one of the foremost French organizations that extends nutritional aid for those unable to afford food. The association collects fresh groceries judged unfit for sale by retailers and transfers it to the Solidarity Groceries network. In 2009, ANDES launched a soup and juice production program, reusing the groceries judged “unfit’’ to produce around 160 gallons of soups and juices daily. The products are processed, bottled and pasteurized by the unemployed, which provides temporary work as they seek longer-term employment.
Retailers were also willing to show their commitment to reducing food waste, combined effort to address this societal issue. For example, on October 16, one of the Carrefour supermarkets offered all-day tutorials on how to better preserve food in the refrigerator and how children can make their own delicious, simple, and balanced snacks.
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