In a landmark ruling, supermarkets in France have been banned from discarding or destroying unsold food. Instead, now they are required by law to donate it to charities that will feed either hungry humans or livestock. If reading that makes you cringe, think about it some more. Human beings are being treated worse than even animals, with several retail food chains actually pouring bleach on the unsold food or locking it in warehouses to keep anyone from foraging because so much of it is virtually untouched and perfectly edible.
So it’s alright to throw away food but not let hungry people have it? Which is why this rule compels those supermarkets larger than 400 square meters to sign binding contracts with charities to whom they will donate the food. The penalty if they default on these promises is a massive fine of €75,000 (roughly $84478) or two years in jail.
Is America ready for something similar to take place? We’ve made it to the top of the list of countries who waste alarming amounts of food. How alarming, you wonder? 50 percent of the food prepared in the US every single day ends up in the garbage. That adds up to approximately 4 billion tons of food each year.
What’s even sadder is that the main reasons for this travesty are sheer laziness and boredom. While one can endlessly blame the large companies involved in mass food production, the truth is that too many Americans refuse to be more mindful with groceries. They just don’t attempt to make any extra effort in doing simple things like better planning, storing, reading and understanding expiry dates; or are too bored to be innovative with leftovers. It’s just easier to simply discard the stuff.
There is still a glimmer of hope, though. Folks like Doug Rauch, the former president of specialty grocery store chain Trader Joe, are trying to do their bit to change this awful situation in effective ways. He was responsible for The Daily Table collaborating with food growers, local restaurants, stores and manufacturers to either accept or buy their extra, leftover or close-to-expiration-date produce, at a huge discount. The Daily Table then offered these to people, for almost nothing. Think 99 cents for a dozen eggs, 29 cents for a pound of carrots, and 39 cents a pack for frozen corn on the cob.
What are YOU going to do from now on to reduce this terrible food wastage?