Disco Soup is incredible fun! I’ve been trying to attend one for way over a year, but have always been in the wrong country at the wrong time. When doing a little planning for my trip, I became so excited to find that Disco Soupe and I would just so happen to be crossing paths whilst I was in London. Amazing timing!
It’s an international, grassroots food waste initiative – with it’s primary goal to raise awareness of food waste. It’s all about large groups of people preparing otherwise-wasted ingredients within a party-like atmosphere. It originates from ‘Slow Food Youth Deutschland’ who initially set up the concept – which was called “Schnippel Disko”. Since then, it has been replicated all over the place – from Paris to New York… I just learnt that very recently Kenya had Africa’s first one!
I felt very fortunate to be able to get really stuck in with the setting up of Disco Soup Kilburn. I met one of the organizers a few times before the event to do the food interception. Stores like Aldi and Waitrose were communicated with to arrange picking up their leftovers at the end of the day – but the most exciting of all for me was going to a large wholesalers market for the first time! New Covent Garden Market runs until something like 6:20am (I heard from somewhere) so this meant getting up at 5am in order to drive across London in rush hour traffic and arrive at the market when staff are in tidy up mode. The place was huge, and there was so much going to waste. I guess the scale of it had us sort of hover in one area, where we were already faced with more than we could take. Fresh Direct were happy to supply us with boxes of food that they would be putting in the dumpsters. Whilst loading up, security became a little concerned and asked us to prove we had arranged this with New Covent Garden House. Emails had to be shown, but things were cool and we carried on with the rescue. We were however asked to not take photographs! Crammed into my car went crates of all kinds of fruits and vegetables, boxes of olives, beans and sauces, breads, herbs… It was literally full to the brim. I’ve never seen my car carrying so much food!
Part of my afternoon was spent setting up the space with a team of people. The organizers had managed to find a social centre that let Disco Soup occupy the space for free – although a suggested donation of £1 was asked to cover the bills for the social centre. We set out all of the food, chopping boards and knives, while a couple DJ’s got the ‘Disco’ part of the event sorted in the corner. As people began to turn up, the masses of vegetables began to be chopped. There was flexibility in where and what you wanted to chop – so people could walk around, do a bit here, and do a bit there. Communication with the kitchen team was essential, as they then had to turn it all into different dishes. Dinner Exchange volunteers made up most of the cooking team – which is another initiative I have connected with and will write about soon!
Once all the ingredients were prepared and sent toward the kitchen, the chopping tables were cleaned up and tidied ready for the banquet! Soon after, all of the food was presented, along with words of thanks from the organizers.Then, everybody tucks in! There was an array of beautiful dishes – from colourful curries to fruity crumbles. Every bite tasted so good, and each one was a reminder of the inseparable relationship of community and food. Eating dinner mass-prepared by around 100 people… and with all food that would otherwise be en route to landfill… and (I haven’t mentioned yet) it was all to music – so much energy in every mouthful.
Once we were well into the eating part of the evening, the volume was turned up and dancing commenced! I had an amazing time and discovered a lot of food waste friends in the 3-dimensional world for the first time. People I’ve been speaking with for a couple years, but had yet to meet them. It was a great place to connect with others, bring people together, have invaluable conversation, think about the value of food, work on something as a community, divert waste, share, eat and dance.
Look out Southampton. Disco Soup is coming to town this spring!