Dumpster-Diving Frenchman Bikes for World Hunger

The mission is strange, but the cause is noble.

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There are lots of ways to raise awareness for a cause. You can stage an internet blackout, wear pink, force traffic jams, or grow a mustache.

Usually, the stranger the idea is, the more it gets noticed. And that's precisely why one garbage-eating Frenchman has grabbed our attention.

Baptiste Dubanchet is on a quest to bike across Europe, surviving entirely on discarded food. The three-month, 1,900-mile journey from Paris to Warsaw is Dubanchet’s way of raising awareness of food waste in Europe and throughout the world.

There's little doubt that his cause is noble. According to the United Nations, nearly 870 million people worldwide suffer from chronic malnourishment. Meanwhile, restaurants and markets in the developed world throw away countless tons of perfectly good food every day.

The 25-year-old Frenchman explains that the goal is to “make this trip relying only on food destined to be thrown away—from hotels, restaurants, grocery stores, supermarkets and markets, in order to denounce food waste.”

As you can imagine, the trip is no piece of cake. While the world's restaurants and supermarkets combine to throw away an average of 1.3 billion tons of food each year, according to the UN, much of it remains inaccessible thanks to locked dumpsters, health regulations, or business policies.

Shameful Waste of Food
Credit: Baptiste Dubanchet View Larger

Dubanchet told German site The Local that only about one in 10 locations offer him food that would otherwise be discarded. For legal reasons, most establishments have a policy against giving away food waste.

“Some people have even risked their jobs by giving me food,” he said.

What’s particularly interesting is the attitude various cities have toward Dubanchet’s cause. Berlin, he said, has been the easiest, while the most difficult was the Czech town of Pilsen. There, he had to ask at some 50 different stores and restaurants before finding food. The challenge is all the more dramatic when you consider the tremendous, calorie-burning exercise required to bike from France to Poland.

“I have to find food fast because after all the cycling I am tired and I need the energy,” Dubanchet explained. "Is my stomach full or empty? That is the most important thing, not what I am eating."

He aims to finish his journey by mid-July, though he’s in no rush. With any luck, he'll turn a few more heads in the process.


Hero Image: Baptiste Dubanchet, La Faim du Monde

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