On May 21, a unanimous decision in France’s National Assembly made it illegal to throw away edible food waste from supermarkets, and I’m still applauding this incredible, forward-thinking decision. If I could personally send a jar of Nutella to each person who contributed to that law, I would.

Throwing away good food is an abomination in a world where so much food is wasted while thousands of people starve to death each day. The French are taking steps towards fixing this problem in their own country and passed a law on May 21 that required unsold food to be donated to charities or companies that would incorporate it into products like compost and animal food.


Photo courtesy of Stephen Rees

While there are bound to be kinks in the system, there is literally no downside to this legislation. It doesn’t just outlaw waste, which in itself is fantastic, but requires that it go to a good cause for free. C’est bon, non?

It is now officially a crime for French food retailers to throw away their perfectly edible food excess. In reality, it is really a crime everywhere; it’s just legally recognized in France.

According to the Food World Day website, nearly 30-40% of the United States’s food supply ends up in trash cans and dumpsters each year. And that’s a crime, no matter how you spin it.


Photo courtesy of the US Department of Agriculture

I’m no math major, but those stats mean that we waste at least 1/3 of the food available to us in the United States each year. If the consequences of this fact for the homeless and the hungry doesn’t make your gut twist, imagine tossing your most recent dinner you made for yourself without even taking a bite.

Laws aren’t passed overnight, and as a proud American citizen I’m aware of that fact. That being said, it’s time for the US, among other countries, to follow France’s example.

America is one of the worst waste culprits on the planet, and we need to begin a discussion about the problem, so we can create legislation to solve it.


Photo courtesy of Flickr User Jonathan Bloom

In reality, though, individuals and companies, without the help of the government, could tackle this problem on their own (although government support would really help).

Companies themselves can pledge to eliminate their own food waste and make personal decisions to no longer be a player in the ugly waste game.

This is not a conservative vs. liberal issue; it is a common sense issue. It’s about being conscious enough to change habits, instead of continuing to throw our problems away.  It’s about doing good and helping others. It’s about being sustainable businesses and individuals.

And it’s about being responsible with the resource we’ve been given, down to the very last crumb.