Does the UK need a food waste law like France?

Food is such an interesting subject to teach. Everyday without fail there are news headlines about food, health or dietary related messages or blogs on line about factors which affect food choice not to mention the surge of food photos appearing on Pinterest or Instagram. There are always topics which lend them selves well to discussions about the social, cultural, environmental issues related to food such as the horse meat scandal of 2013 to the current discussions surrounding the effects of food production on climate change. Food Matters to people.It is something we all have in common as we eat not only to live but for many it is as a source of pleasure and comfort.

This weekend, I was struck by various Twitter feeds and news headlines on France’s decision to pass a bill which will forbid vendors to waste food. have a good article on it entitled “French Parliament unanimously approves law to cut food waste “.

It is my intention to use this headline to begin a lesson on food waste next week. I hope to show pupils a few photos and videos related to food waste to create interest to begin with and then I will divide them into groups to plan a debate.

The debate will be based on the following sentence:

The UK government should follow France’s example and approve a law that will prevent food waste.

I will also give the groups the following headlines taken from Twitter feeds to help them with their discussion points:

  • People throw away a lot of food because of confusion over expiration dates.
  • Food waste is money wasted.
  • Seniors learn to turn leftover food into savings.
  • Launch of frozen avocados could help to reduce Britain’s food waste.
  • River Cottage reduces food waste by a third.
  • Over four million festive dinners are thrown away each year.
  • 24 million slices of bread are thrown away every day in the UK.
  • Food waste can be process to create energy through anaerobic digestion.
  • Food waste is a major contributor to environmental damage.
  • Supermarket selects Derbyshire town for food waste initiative.

Pupils will also be given a few copies of newspaper articles about food waste and will also be given permission to use their own devices ( iPads , phones) for the purpose of research. They will be divided into groups, who will argue for and against in the debate .I’m hoping it will be an interesting and thought provoking way of learning about food waste.

I will also compile a list of arguments for and arguments against so that I am prepared to discuss, reiterate or add to the points raised by the pupils. I intend to refer to the points below to add to the discussion:

  • A law would make people more aware of the amount of food wasted and force them to take action to prevent or reduce it.
  • Enforcing a law such as this is just another example of how the UK is becoming a nanny state.
  • If the law meant that people would be fined for wasting food it would make them think twice
  • Some people cannot afford to waste food as it is so expensive.
  • If the law required large supermarkets to donate unused food surely that would help feed many people such as the homeless or people who rely on food banks.
  • We don’t need laws to prevent food waste. It should be an individual’s responsibility to plan their food intake and shopping lists so that they do not over-purchase.
  • We need a comprehensive education programme which will teach people what to do with leftovers and how to preserve food so that it is not wasted.
  • People have enough money and don’t have to worry about wasting food.
  • Many people don’t know how to interpret best before date and use by date and therefore they waste food unnecessarily
  • Some people don’t have a conscience about food waste

So here’s hoping it generates some interesting discussion in the food classroom and prepares pupils for discussing topical issues related to food which often pop up in exam papers.

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