Eating sustainably while in France

Posted on: 5 April 2022 by Isla Lumsdon in 2022 posts

Earth Month - Isla Lumsdon

I’m currently on my year abroad in Toulouse in France, a country known for its incredible food. Upon moving here, I was very excited to experience French cuisine whenever I wanted however, I thought that eating sustainably may be a challenge.

France uses quality products and a variety of flavours in their food, and their gastronomy is part of their cultural heritage, included by UNESCO in 2010. With environmental issues being so pertinent in recent years, how to eat sustainably has never been more relevant.

France is known for being a country that’s population eats a large amount of cheeses and meats, specifically steak, which are two food groups that do a great deal of harm to the environment and your health. On the contrary, I was surprised at how sustainable the French diet can be.

As it turns out, France is actually the most sustainable country in the world. A third of all food produced worldwide is wasted, which is 1.3 billion tons per year. This food waste releases planet-warming gases as it decomposes in landfills. Knowing this fact, France has managed to be so sustainable country because restaurants are required to provide doggy bags when asked and supermarkets are not allowed to throw away unsold food. This reduces a significant amount of food waste which would have eventually done harm to the environment.

France also has aggressive measures to promote a healthy lifestyle and to adopt eco-farming techniques, another reason for its top ranking in sustainability. For example, when you watch French satellite TV, any advert relating to food or drink always has a text written across the bottom of the screen reminding you to eat 5 fruits or vegetables a day, not to snack between meals and to reduce sugar intake.

Furthermore, the supermarkets always have a large ‘Bio’ section which includes food that is locally produced and low in environmentally harmful waste. The food provided in this section is usually more expensive than the standard product, as it is sustainably made and uses better quality ingredients that are kinder to the environment.

My personal favourite way to eat sustainably in France is a magical invention, named ‘un croissant aux amandes’. This delicious concoction uses a stale croissant, which a bakery would typically throw away to make a fresh batch and is filled with an almond paste and baked again. The almond paste provides moisture that revives the pastry that was otherwise destined for the bin.

Compared to England, France is much more versed in cooking and eating sustainably, cooking which I have enjoying very much in the recent months that I have lived here. Faced with the very relevant challenge of being environmentally sustainable, France definitely has been doing it right and other countries should take note of what to do.