France is the breadbasket of Western Europe.
It is also its best and biggest wine basket, and its principal cheese, milk, fruit, vegetable and meat basket.
The only country in Europe completely self-sufficient in food production, it has more agricultural land (48.2 million acres or 35.5% of the total area) than any other country in the EU, and it grows and breeds 23% of the EU’s agricultural output.
It is also the world’s most “food sustainable” country, best at eliminating food waste, promoting healthy lifestyles, improving soil fertility by rotating crops, cutting back on chemical fertilizers, and aggressively resisting mass-production and intensive farming techniques. It protects traditional ways of farming and is quicker than most at adopting innovative high-tech and eco-friendly farming practices.
It buys more food from its neighbours than it sells to them.
It sells almost as many pesticides to the world as it does cheese.
Two-thirds of its citizens spend less than €3.50 a day on food.
Fast food accounts for more than 50 percent of all out-of-home dining.
Roughly 85 percent of French restaurants serve industrially-prepared foods without disclosing where it comes from.
Five and a half million people in France rely on food aid.
Sixty percent of French farmers are over 60 years old. One in two will retire by 2026. Two-thirds will never be replaced. Two will commit suicide every day.
This week’s Hexagon guest is Camille Labro, long-time food writer for Le Monde, cookbook author, goddaughter of farm-to-table pioneer Alice Waters and director of L’Ecole Comestible (The Edible School), which brings farmers, gardeners, cooks, bakers, cheesemakers and pizza oven builders into schoolyards and classrooms around France free of charge.
Camille is going to save French cookery. And French farms. And French farmers. Listen how.
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