This year’s Food Sustainability Index has been released and there are some interesting findings. After the Economist Intelligence Unit graded 35 nations based on various standards, including food waste, environmental-friendly agriculture, as well as quality nutrition, France earned the title of number one in the world for food sustainability.

France ranking number one makes sense considering their bold (and much needed) efforts to cut back on food waste in recent years. In 2016, France became the first country to require supermarkets to donate unsold food to charities. Not only that, but France requires restaurants to provide to-go bags when requested or they could face hefty fines up to €75,000 ($82,324) and two years in jail.

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Japan ranked second for sustainability and other European countries including Germany, Spain, Sweden followed to round out the top five.

So, where was the U.S. ranked? Well … the U.S. sits at the 21st place due to our overconsumption of meat, sugar, and saturated fats. The U.S. also ranks so low because of the poor management of soil and fertilizer in agriculture. To view the complete Food Sustainability Index and the findings, click here.

With such an abysmal rating, it’s high time we talk about the problem of food waste. Horrifyingly, the average American citizen throws out roughly 20 pounds of food per month. Food waste is also the second largest component of our waste stream, just behind paper, and encompasses 18 percent of the material handled by our waste management system every year. As food waste decays in a landfill, methane gas is released in the process. The methane escapes and enters the atmosphere where it acts as a greenhouse gas.

But we can easily curb food waste. 7.1 million tons of food were being trashed before France’s 2016 food waste bill was passed and now France loses only 1.8 percent of their total food production annually, with plans to cut that figure in half by 2025. If you want to see changes to the food system here in the U.S., we must act now. Be sure to sign this Care2 petition urging U.S. supermarkets to stop wasting food and follow in France’s footsteps by taking proactive measures. As the petition points out, 48 million Americans go to bed hungry every night, an absurd number considering the power we have to stop senseless food waste. For tips on how to minimize food waste in your daily life, check out this One Green Planet article.

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Want to do more? You can start with what’s on your dinner plate because if food waste wasn’t bad enough, the kinds of food and how it is produced here in the U.S. is bottoming out. Here in the U.S., our diets rely heavily on meat and dairy products. In fact, the average American consumes around twice the amount of protein they need, and around two-thirds of that protein comes from animal sources. Not only is our obsession with animal products unnecessary (and damaging) on a nutrition level, it is also draining our natural resources at highly unsustainable rates.

To produce three calories of beef, it takes 100 calories of grain – considering this, it’s no wonder a majority of the grain in the U.S. is fed to livestock instead of people. The reality is, our current food system that focuses on factory farmed meat and dairy is pushing the planet to its absolute limit and as it stands, we are running out of land and water to produce animal products – while causing mass-scale deforestation as well as air and water pollution in the process. With the animal agriculture industry being responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transportation sector combined, we need to start taking a look at our food choices and act now to save the planet. By simply choosing more plant-based foods, you can dramatically reduce your personal footprint on the environment.

To learn more about the impact of your food choices and how you can start healing the plant, check out One Green Planet’s #EatForThePlanet campaign.

With these simple steps in mind, we can all work towards moving the U.S. up on the Food Sustainability Index!

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Image Source: Pixavril/Shutterstock

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