Raising awareness about an issue such as food waste can be a challenge – much like any other campaign calling on people to change their habits in order to address a social injustice or environment issue. But how do you get people to care about food needlessly going to waste – essentially about rotting fruit and veg?! And once people do become aware, you are faced with another, greater challenge – how do you get them to use that awareness and take action?
One fun and sociable way to simultaneously raise awareness and get people to take action, is to organise a Disco Soup event – gathering food that would otherwise have gone to waste from local stores and markets, taking it to a venue such as Save the Date Café, where a host of volunteers – members of the public armed with peelers and kitchen knives – are ready to turn what has been salvaged into a delicious multi-course meal. The meals are then shared with participants and other members of the public for free, and as the night rolls on everyone has the chance to strut their funky stuff on the dance floor.
The first disco soup event was held in Germany in early 2012 by with the Slow Food Youth Network Deutschland where discarded fruit and vegetables were salvaged from a local market which they used to create a huge pot of soup – all to the sound of disco music. From there it moved to France, and then spread across the globe – much in the same way disco music did back in the day!
I’ve been to a couple of Disco Soups, and the atmosphere is always welcoming and vibrant, and it’s great to see so many people participating in both the creation of the meals, and the collective dining. It’s the perfect antidote to dining alone with a ready meal in front of the TV – an activity all too common in contemporary British society, with 72% of Britons eating at least one main meal in front of the TV every day. It is also impacting on our relationship with food and our health.
Once the music stops, it’s hard to know whether or not people’s participation in a Disco Soup results in any sort of behaviour change – be it modifying their own consumption habits, or participating in the wider campaign to tackle the issue of food waste. But one thing is certain – they are a great way of engaging people who might not otherwise connect with the issue, and the mere fact they are a global phenomenon that results in less avoidable food waste being produced means they have an important, tangible role to play!
Disco Soups are organised by different organisations in different countries and different cities. In London, they are often organised or supported by Feedback. Outside of London, if you just type in Disco Soup and your nearest city, you are likely to find something!