There are many reasons to romanticize France, and now there's one more: The land of cheese and wine is now leading the world in the battle to end food waste.
This year, the Economist Intelligence Unit and the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition Foundation examined 34 countries to determine "how well countries advocate for and enact food waste policies, how well resources are used, and how health indicators perform throughout a population," according to Global Citizen. In the resulting Food Sustainability Index, France topped the list at number one.
Some of this success can be attributed to the country's naturally sustainable agricultural practices and the healthy eating habits its population, but France has also been leading the way in food sustainability over the past few years. In 2015, France became the first country to ban edible food waste from markets, opting to have stores to donate food to charities instead. French farmers are also adapting to climate change with innovative and sustainable practices, and the government is protecting and promoting the growth of forests, which help soil and water quality.
France's sustainable leadership is an example to other countries of the kind of work that is needed to combat food waste, which is a major contributor to climate change, among other issues.
"Sustainable food systems are vital in achieving the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals,” Martin Koehring, managing editor at The Economist Intelligence Unit, told Global Citizen. “Major global developments such as climate change, rapid urbanization, tourism, migration flows and the shift towards Westernized diets put food systems under pressure.”
The goal of the Food Sustainability Index is encourage and entice other countries to adopt policies and practices to combat food waste like the ones found in France.
“The Food Sustainability Index is an important tool to help policymakers and other relevant stakeholders to design effective policies to improve food system sustainability,” Koehring told Global Citizen.
Other countries that performed well include Japan, Germany, Spain and Sweden. The U.S. came in 24th, owing its poor standing to the widespread industrial farming practices and poor eating habits of the population. Luckily, many people, organizations and jurisdictions in the U.S. are fighting these issues, so maybe one day we'll climb to the top of the list. Until then, bon appétit, France.