France: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back?
France is one of the most progressive countries when it comes to food sustainability. While most conservation movements are grassroots, France has taken a top down approach. In 2016, a law was passed that fined grocers and restaurants who had a certain amount of food waste. This incentivized owners to stock smaller quantities of perishable foods per week.
French culture also aids the food sustainability movement. Most french citizens shop at local farmers markets a few times a week, bringing their reusable bags along with them. In the home, paper towels and paper napkins are non-existent. Leftovers are eaten promptly, as food is rarely thrown away. French people treat food with more respect; they see its value and the value added when we buy, sell, and cook it. It is then harder for them to arbitrarily throw away food that carries monetary and nutritional value.
But is France falling behind? Earlier this year, they signed in a bill that prohibits vegan meat alternatives from being labeled as "burgers, cheese, sausage, etc." A veggie burger now must find a new name as meat retailers believe vegan products mislead customers. Many French people believe plant-based living goes against French culture and see no reason to eat less meat or dairy. While vegetarianism is praised in the US for its health benefits, our life expectancy is still shorter than our French counterparts. French people also live longer with higher quality of life than Americans, giving them no reason to want to change their diets. Can France keep its status as a food sustainability leader while promoting industries that contribute to climate change, food security, and our energy crisis? France can retain its culture and animal based cuisine, but there needs to be more laws in place that limit the amount of meat consumption and introduce alternatives.