Every year, the world wastes about 1.3 billion tonnes of food. That amounts to about a third of the food humanity produces, costing the global economy an estimated $750 billion annually — all while 870 million people go hungry each day.
It's numbers like these that prompted Baptiste Dubanchet to get on his bike and try to raise awareness about the sorry state of food waste.
Since April, the 25-year-old French environmentalist has been cycling through Europe sustaining himself principally on food that gets thrown away from hotels, restaurants, grocery stores and bakeries. He started his 3,000-kilometre trip in Paris, and has already passed through Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic. His final destination will be in Warsaw, Poland.
"I really didn't think we were wasting as much as we are," he told the The Local, an English-language French news site. "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-litre or 1000-litre bins are filled with things that are still good enough to eat."
Dubanchet came up with the idea for the project, which he calls La Faim du Monde, after encountering widespread poverty and hunger while travelling through Colombia and Southeast Asia after finishing his masters in sustainable development.
“I was rich in poor countries," he told The Local. "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."
During his stops, Dubanchet visits schools to give talks about waste in order to raise awareness. “The project has been a way for me to protest,” he said. “If we produced less, food would become more precious to us.” The European Parliament dubbed 2014 the European Year against Food Waste, and has set a target of reducing waste by 50 per cent by 2020.
Earlier this week, CBC Radio's What a Waste tackled the subject of wasted food, and explored some innovative solutions to the problem.
And for more on the scale of the issue, see our story on the 2013 Hunger Report from the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization..
Via The Local