February 8th, 2016
Image Source: independent
While the developing countries of the world continue to grapple with hunger and poverty, a European nation has shown the way to fight these epidemics. France has made it illegal for big supermarkets to throw away edible food that is passed its expiry date or doesn’t meet other requirements.
France shows the way
A new set of radical laws enacted by the French National Assembly forbids supermarkets with a floor area of more than 400 square metres to destroy discarded food, a gory practice prevalent in many developed countries, and instead forces these chains to donate the food to charity or use it to make compost, energy or animal feed.
In France, each person wastes an average of around 20-30 kg of food each year as cited in The Huffington Post. French supermarkets generally destroy food that has been deemed unfit for sale by pouring chemicals onto it. The Minister of Food in France, Guillaume Garot, termed this act “scandalous” and called for an ambitious target to half the food wastage in the country by 2025. As per the new rules, eligible supermarkets are required to keep a contract with charity organizations to ensure that they are providing food to them. Most of the French retail giants have welcomed the decision but have also expressed caution, saying that logistical support in the form of trucks and fridges must be provided by the collection centres to help them in the distribution process. It is hoped that such concerns of all the stakeholders will be addressed and the scheme will soon be successfully implemented.
India must follow
Meanwhile, India has a lot to learn from this developed nation that has endeavoured to curb food wastage and hunger in a single shot. According to the United Nations Development Programme, up to 40% of the food produced in India is wasted. This amounts to Rs. 50,000 crore worth of food produced going down the drain every year. These figures look more unfortunate when we see that India ranks a measly 63 among 88 countries in Global Hunger Index. According to a survey in 2013 by an NGO called Bhook (meaning hunger in Hindi), 20 crore Indians sleep hungry on any given night. About 7 million children died in 2012 because of hunger/malnutrition.
There is a desperate need for laws prohibiting food wastage as well as mechanisms to divert the excess food to the needy population. Food wastage needs to be fixed on both the production and the consumption side. While the government must strive to improve the cold-storage infrastructure on farms and enact legislations like France, every citizen of the country must pledge to take only as much food on his plate as he can eat. Wedding planning needs more than just fancy lights and splendid cuisines – a proper estimate of food to be consumed must be made and arrangements to distribute the leftover food to the needy people via groups like The Robin Hood Army must be made. Another developed country, Britain, has showed the way by which food banks can prove to be a boon to people who cannot afford to buy food on all days, and a similar model can be adopted for India.
The Logical Indian community welcomes the French government’s bold decisions to curb the menace of food wastage, and urges the Indian government and the people to do their part to make both ends meet.