Eating from garbage without buying any food on a 3,000km route across Europe – that’s what a young Frenchman decided to do in order to raise awareness about how much food is wasted.
Baptiste Dubanchet has already crossed Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and the Czech Republic on a bicycle trip which started in Paris on April, 15. Warsaw, Poland, is his final destination, which he hopes to reach in two weeks.
The aim of his adventure “is to make this trip relying only from food destined to be thrown away, from hotels, restaurants, grocery stores, supermarkets and markets, in order to denounce food waste,” Dubanchet wrote on his website dubbed La Faim du Monde (World Hunger).
According to the 25-year-old, the waste takes place at the expense of millions of people who are starving.
"I really didn't think we were wasting as much as we are," he told the Local. "Even when you know about it, it's still surprising to open a garbage can and find so many potatoes, so much fruit, yogurt, sometimes 500-liter or 1000-liter bins are filled with things that are still good enough to eat."
When he arrives in a city, he first starts looking for local supermarkets or bakeries that can provide him with food that would otherwise be thrown out. But only one in every 10 places gives him something to eat.
“I have to find food fast because after all the cycling I am tired and I need the energy,” he said. “Is my stomach full or empty? That is the most important thing, not what I am eating."
Dubanchet noticed an interesting detail: the companies don’t give away free food. The majority of store workers told him that the products in the bin were unfit for eating.
Moreover, many supermarkets prefer to keep the bins with ‘waste’ food inside and if they are outside they locked them up behind fences or top them with barbed wire, Dubanchet said.
During his ‘food hunt’ he uses a poster saying ‘La faim du monde’. But the sign doesn’t always help. In the Czech Republic he asked about 50 places before he was given some food.
“The Czech Republic was the hardest, people just didn't understand the concept,” he said, “They associate taking trash with homeless people. Finally, I was given a lot of leftover bread from a bakery which I made last for five days.”
So far only French supermarkets have been happy to give him ‘food for garbage’. The adventurer said he is going to visit them again on his way home, "I imagine I'll see things a bit differently after my trip.”
In order to raise more awareness of issue of waste and the impact it has on the environment, a brave adventurer stops at local schools after each 60km of his route.
“I tell [schoolchildren] how much non-renewable resources are consumed every day and that one day these will run out,” he said.
Dubanchet decided to undertake such a journey after his seeing lots of hungry people during his visits to Colombia, South East Asia and Tahiti.
“I was rich in poor countries. I was sad these people were so poor. These people have no choice. They did not choose to be poor, so I decided to do something to show how much good food we waste,” he said.
He believes that reducing food waste means more food available, a reduction of pollution and a reduction of food’s cost.
“What motivated me to build this project is most likely having faced poverty among vulnerable populations, often achieving a certain indifference of developed countries,” he wrote on the website.
Earlier he told the Local.de that the whole project was a way for him to protest.
“If we produced less, food would become more precious to us,” he said.
Dubanchet decided to undertake his journey exactly this year as 2014 has been declared European Year against Food Waste by European Parliament.
According to UN World Food Program, about 842 million people in do not have enough to eat.