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French Food Waste


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France has passed a law, that prevents supermarkets from throwing out off-peak but viable food. Instead stores are required setup contracts with local charities to collect and distribute the products. The new law releases supermarkets from any responsibility over the quality of the food being picked up by charities. It is the job of those collecting, preparing and distributing the produce to determine what is nutritionally viable and what is spoiled.

This legislation reduces waste and helps to feed the impoverished; what a great idea. Since, supermarkets must also pay for waste collection, having charities pick up what would have been thrown out should also reduce their costs.

The US has a portion of this law in place. in the Good Samaritan Food Donation act. Food producers are not required to donate leftover food, but if they do so they are not responsible for its safety. However, it appears that few companies in the US take advantage of the law or are even aware of it.

Should Canada adopt such a law?

http://bigthink.com/stefani-cox/we-throw-food-away-all-the-time-but-we-dont-have-to?utm_campaign=Echobox&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Facebook

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The concept is positive and humane but like all other positive and humane initiatives it does have its down side.

We live in Southern Ontario. In the fall, you could drive any side road and see tons of vegetables either not picked and rotting or spread around ploughed fields to use as compost for next year. There are a few farmers who will allow local "helping cupboards" or Mennonites to pick the leftovers after the initial harvest but most are reluctant to do so. The explanation I am told is that the giving away of any product will undercut the market for the product and result in financial loss for the farmers.

Many are under contract with food outlets and once their quota has been grown, part of the contract is to destroy the remainder of the crop.

Fruit is dealt with in an interesting manner. You will see hundreds of pounds of apples, pears, cherries etc on the ground around trees that have been picked. These are "grounders". Any contract with a food distributer includes the direction that any food that touches the ground cannot be sent for processing. Sometimes after a harvest, in the evenings, you may spot locals with bushel baskets duck walking through a field.

The last few years I have seen some interesting symbiotic relationships between farmers and ranchers. A couple of acres of an orchard are fenced off with temporary fending. A large herd, flock or mob of sheep are trucked into the enclosure and let free to feed. A couple of days later, the areas under the trees are chewed clean including weeds and grasses. The temporary fencing is then moved over to the next part of the field and the grazing continues. To my unpleasant surprise, the ranchers usually leaves at least one large dog in the enclosure at all times to discourage passersby from petting the sheep or uninvited harvesters.

Our local "caring cupboard" is never short of growing food in season. Many people grow a market garden for personal use and to share with neighbors and those in need.

The amount of edible food that is wasted is discouraging but does maintain market prices.

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I volunteered to sort food a week or so ago for the local foodbank charity, and they get meat/fruit/veggies from several grocery stores that would normally be thrown out. It was good to see that it was used to feed people who needed it.

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Metro Vancouver is considering a federal tax credit to encourage grocery stores to donate edible food. The greater Vancouver food bank is concerned they will unload expired food resulting in increased disposal costs. Currently the greater Vancouver food bank spends 40,000 annually to dispose of excess food it can't distribute.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Food producers are not required to donate leftover food, but if they do so they are not responsible for its safety.

This is the only issue I can think of that could be a problem. It could cause a lot of issues down the road should people get sick from donated food.

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This is the only issue I can think of that could be a problem. It could cause a lot of issues down the road should people get sick from donated food.

It is fine to make people responsible for things they donate but you can't force people to donate food and then make the liable if the food is not healthy. The only consequence such an insane regulation is that producers would declare all excess food 'not fit for human consumption' whether it is good or not because that is the only sure way to eliminate liability risk. Edited by TimG
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Many are under contract with food outlets and once their quota has been grown, part of the contract is to destroy the remainder of the crop.

Fruit is dealt with in an interesting manner. You will see hundreds of pounds of apples, pears, cherries etc on the ground around trees that have been picked. These are "grounders". Any contract with a food distributer includes the direction that any food that touches the ground cannot be sent for processing. Sometimes after a harvest, in the evenings, you may spot locals with bushel baskets duck walking through a field.

By that, anything grown in the ground should be off limits. Potatoes, carrots, wheat, corn, barley, soy..... and much much more.

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By that, anything grown in the ground should be off limits. Potatoes, carrots, wheat, corn, barley, soy..... and much much more.

My understanding is that fruit grows mainly on trees so often the orchards have wild animals (and sometimes guard dogs etc.) feeding under them. Their feces if/when transferred to fruit is dangerous especially when the fruit is used in large processing procedures.

Rather than trusting the farmer to thoroughly wash the fruit, large companies who contract farmers for fruit will demand that anything that hits the ground is not included in its shipments.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1996_Odwalla_E._coli_outbreak

Ground vegetables are much less likely to be contaminated and are usually surrounded by a "barrier" which is removed or thoroughly cleaned before consumption.

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Big Guy, but yet we spray very toxic pesticides on the crops. So the animal feces bit makes no sense to me. The food needs to be washed regardless.

You may be correct but I am stating only what I hear from the farmers.

I did follow up and found out that those farmers who are NOT under contract do not follow these protocols. Grounders are processed to make juice and other products that are pasteurized.

Some farmers also allow local Mennonites to help themselves to whatever is left after the "harvest" has been completed.

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  • 9 months later...

The CBC is taking the issue on this week by sending reporters to Walmart dumpsters. 

Here's a response from the National Post. 

http://business.financialpost.com/fp-comment/william-watson-dumpster-cops-gonna-come-for-you-if-the-cbc-gets-its-way

I do hate food waste. But it's not the job of the private business to charitably donate the food and shoulder the cost of sorting a distribution. And you can't regulate food waste unless you want to create and even more wasteful level of government to enforce "anti-waste" laws. 

The government needs to relax regulations on expiry dates and ban any lawsuit associated with foods used for donation purposes. 

 

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I see no problem with supermarkets being forced to offer the food they plan on disposing to food banks. It can then be the responsibility of the charities to pickup, sort and use the food as they see fit.

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Heard on the radio that 1 calorie in three goes to waste, and food production is the biggest cause of habitat loss that is currently decimating the wild animal numbers. 

So it would really be a good idea to cut that waste.

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