Man Bikes 3,000 Miles Across Europe, Eating Only What He Can Salvage

Riding a bike 3,000 miles sounds daunting enough, but one man added an extra element of discomfort into his already arduous journey but decided to eat only what he could salvage from the garbage along his chosen route. The whole idea behind his effort is to call attention to the problem of food waste in Europe, he says.

The Frenchman is riding from Paris to Warsaw, reports The Local, and says he’s found out a lot about how much good food Europe’s grocery stores, restaurants and other food outlets are tossing out.

“I really didn’t think we were wasting as much as we are,” he said. “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.”

He started on April 15 and thus far has gone through Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic and all over Germany, with the goal of arriving in Warsaw in two weeks.

He’s using a couch surfing website to find places to crash, and checks out local stores when he gets into each town to see where there’s food ready to be given away or salvageable from the trash. Only about one in every 10 places he stops to ask actually give him anything.

“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.”

He uses a sign in each country’s language to explain what he’s doing with the project, dubbed La Faim du Monde or World Hunger, but that doesn’t always help.

“The Czech Republic was the hardest, people just didn’t understand the concept,” he said, noting it took 50 tries before anyone would give him a bite. “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.”

According to the 2013 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Hunger Report, 842 million people in the world are starving or undernourished, while about 25,000 die each day from starvation or hunger-related causes.

Those are some serious figures, especially considering that in this country alone, the United States Department of Agriculture says we waste 141 trillion calories of food per year. The FAO estimates that we waste or lose about one third of the world’s food produced for consumption every year.

The man’s effort coincides with the European Year against Food Waste, led by the European Parliament. That body’s goal is to halve food waste in the European Union by 2025.

“The project has been a way for me to protest,” he said. “If we produced less, food would become more precious to us.”

Frenchman eats from Europe’s bins in protest [The Local]