Thursday, June 24, 2021

Ending Food Waste

Baptiste Dubanchet is a Frenchman who is determined to put an end to food waste. He rode his bike 3,000 km (about 1,865 miles) from Paris to Warsaw in 2014 without buying any food, eating only what he was given along the way. He stopped at supermakets, bakeries and  restaurants for leftovers destined to be thrown away, and went to markets to collect fresh fruits and vegetables that otherwise would have ended up in the trash for cosmetic reasons, like strange shapes, odd colors or blemishes. In 2017, Dubanchet pedalled from Paris to New York, crossing the Atlantic ocean on a pedal boat while eating only expired products. That 12,000-km (over-7,450 mile) journey took him around 11 months. 

His goal: to raise awareness of the huge, global food waste problem and of the incorrect, useless minimum durability or use-by consumption dates on dry and canned food items.

Nearly 1.3 billion tonnes of food are wasted each and every year worldwide; that’s one-third of the global production for human consumption, according to data from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

To prove it’s possible to eat perished dry goods and stay healthy, Dubanchet biked from Paris to Gibraltar, then crossed the Atlantic from Agadir, Morocco to Guadeloupe in a pedal boat (also called a paddleboat or water bike), finishing up the trip from Miami to New York again on a bicycle. When he crossed the ocean, in the hold of his 7-m (23-ft) craft, his food supply consisted of expired packages of rice, cereal, mushrooms, semolina and chocolate, among other out-of-date food products. 

12,000 km by pedal boat and bicycle to fight food waste (photo: Un Monde à Vélo, 2017)

According to Dubanchet in an interview, “The fact that I spent 91 days on the paddleboat eating only ‘outdated’ food items shows that my petition [to reduce food waste and eliminate ‘best before dates’ from the labels of many dry products] is legitimate, and that we should remove these completely unnecessary dates. … I made an appointment with a doctor on arrival and he validated that I was in good health.”

Baptiste Dubanchet’s pedal boat (photo: France 3 Centre-Val de Loire)

So think twice before throwing out that box of rice or flour that’s out of date.

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