France Just Did Something Experimental and Possibly Helpful regarding Hunger — In Contrast, Consider How American Government Would Approach the Same Problem

© 2015 Peter Free


29 May 2015



I can hear the capitalistic cacophony now


In France:



[S]upermarkets will be banned from throwing away or destroying unsold food and must instead donate it to charities or for animal feed, under a law set to crack down on food waste.


The French national assembly voted unanimously to pass the legislation as France battles an epidemic of wasted food that has highlighted the divide between giant food firms and people who are struggling to eat.


In recent years, French media have highlighted how poor families, students, unemployed or homeless people often stealthily forage in supermarket bins at night to feed themselves, able to survive on edible products which had been thrown out just as their best-before dates approached.


But some supermarkets doused binned food in bleach to prevent potential food-poisoning by eating food from bins. Other supermarkets deliberately binned food in locked warehouses for collection by refuse trucks to stop scavengers.


Angelique Chrisafis, France to force big supermarkets to give unsold food to charities, The Guardian (22 May 2015) (extracts)




Imagine how the US Congress and President would approach the same issue.



The moral? — The French experiment regarding ameliorating hunger may not work, but it represents an engaged attempt to improve some people’s lives


Western and northern Europeans act as if they still believe in the concept of a social contract between government and populace. That sense of community — even with its frequent hostility toward immigrants — may be what favorably distinguishes the region from our more alienating American example.


Living in Germany (as I temporarily am) and regularly traveling to some of its neighbors — has made me even more aware that some non-American societies have not elevated irascible selfishness and violence into cultural norms.


The difference is striking. It takes the representative forms of seeing (a) hundreds of bikes left barely or unsecured at town train stations and (b) six-year olds wandering through narrow streets (blocks from home) alone.