New Law Could Change France’s Food System for the Better

The upper chamber of France’s parliament has passed a law requiring all of the nation’s “collective restaurants” (school cafeterias, hospital cafeterias, senior living communities, prisons and other state institutions) to source at least 40 percent of their food locally. The proposal will need to be approved by the French Senate before it becomes law.

Apart from purchasing it locally, the food provided should be in season, ecologically certified, and planted organically. Until now, the law didn’t define the term “local,” there would be different definitions depending on the area and product availability. For now, the recommendation is 100 km radius for food that requires processing after harvesting and 30 km radius for fruit and veggies. Some of the France cities are already providing 100% natural food in their institutions like St. Etienne in central eastern France.

According to the law, the ultimate intention is to improve the food system in France. With this move, France will not only improve the food system but it will also boost the local economies and decrease the food supply chain. In simple words, France is going to reduce the intermediary processing steps before consumption.

Once the government approve this law, it will be enforced by regional agricultural ministers. They will help their staff in restructuring their departments. Some of the news channels said that government has already initiated the restructuring. They are trying to maintain a connection with local planters and suppliers.


Currently, about 25 percent of emissions in France are attributed to the agriculture sector, and the implementation of this law is estimated to reduce overall French emissions by about 12 percent. Successful implementation would also mean that French farmers are ensured a market for ecologically responsible and organic products and that state facilities can serve healthy, traditional, and local food to citizens. Additionally, corporations in France will be required to address these sourcing issues in their corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies. While these CSRs aren’t legally binding, the revised policies will encourage a reduction in food miles, food waste, and product packaging.

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), obesity rates in France have been increasing steadily over the past few years, with men in lower socio-economic around one and a half times more likely to be obese. Women with lower education levels are around three times more likely to be obese. This law not only has great potential to raise awareness about the environmental impacts of food systems but could also help revitalize depressed rural economies and make healthy food more accessible to all citizens.

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