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No meat in school cafes is latest example of growing eco fascism in France, as politicians develop a taste for crazy restrictions

Not content with controlling people’s lives with curfews and lockdowns, politicians in France are now extending their reach, with the mayor of Lyon banning meat in schools. It’s time for an end to this heavy-handed state meddling.

A year into the Covid-19 pandemic, the world is growing weary of the restrictions of debatable effectiveness that have impeded daily life. In France, citizens have had to contend with a 6pm nightly curfew since the beginning of the year that forces people to go straight home after their workday, even as the Sun shines outside and temperatures reach 20C this week in Paris. With curfew butting right up against the typical workday end time of 6pm, people cram into public transport on weekday afternoons and into grocery stores on weekends. 

If you’re lucky in those grocery stores, you’ll be able to purchase some kind of plastic bag to carry home your weekly haul, lest your purchases break through the paper bag in the middle of the sidewalk, forcing you to abandon your haul on the street as you’re unable to get it home. Decent grocery bags are no longer a reliable fact of life as some store managers simply refuse to order any. (I once had to walk home with ten tiny paper bags hanging off my arms.) 

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Some stores’ staff will look at you with annoyance and proceed to lecture you about how the plastic bag you’re requesting is planet-killing. I usually reply that it’s far preferable than having to buy huge plastic garbage bags, as I always repurpose the plastic grocery bags for household trash. So I am recycling them and reducing use of other plastic bags that are even worse for the environment. 

Despite my use of plastic grocery bags, I’m certain that my environmental footprint is much lower than even the most preachy eco-fascist, as there are infinite factors involved in each person’s ecological impact. People with even a single child, for example, aren’t in any position to be lecturing a child-free person about a dumb plastic bag, as there’s no comparison between the overall effect on the planet. Since they have no way of assessing each individual’s overall impact, they really should just get out of the lifestyle policing business altogether. 

People here in France already spend all day contending with daily life that’s limited by that 6pm curfew, after which businesses – even essential ones – all close. Some regions, including those around the cities of Nice and Dunkirk, are also now under strict full lockdowns on weekends, while the rest of the country hangs on every word of any French government representative addressing the Covid-19 situation, wondering if the next thing out of their mouth will be yet another demand for citizens to further curtail everyday living.

And into this restrictive context comes the Green mayor of Lyon, Grégory Doucet of the ‘Europe Ecology – The Greens’ party, who has ordered meat to be removed from school cafeteria menus. For some kids, school is the only place they’re able to get a decent meal (especially now when parents are prohibited by the government from grocery shopping during the week after work). The claimed justification for what appears to be an ideologically driven measure is that it apparently allows a smoother lunchtime service while social distancing is in place.

Doucet should get together with the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, and annoy French citizens in stereo. (Hidalgo is famous for her drive to get Parisians out of their cars by making life as difficult as possible for motorists trying to pass through the city). Between the two of them and the Covid-19 related restrictions to daily life, French authorities could create an entire symphony of annoyance for the average citizen.

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And spare a particular thought for the French beef farmers, already forced to contend with the pressures of domestic and European regulatory schemes. Now, the people responsible for producing our food have to contend with ideological decisions by eco-fascist politicians who prohibit the sale of their product to certain customers (schools in this case). 

Last year, the French public radio service, France Info, reported that over 370 French farmers commit suicide each year. “Caught in the spiral of debt, producers, often in great financial difficulty, sink into depression,” according to the broadcaster. 

There’s absolutely no way that French farmers should be suffering financially and emotionally if they had a straightforward and direct supply/demand relationship with French society. The system in which they operate has been denatured by government interference at both national and supranational levels, and now local officials, like the mayor of Lyon, want to take a kick at the can. 

How about just butting out and allowing people to live their daily lives without this heavy-handed and near-constant meddling of the state?

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