By Lauren Nelson
From Tehran to Madrid to Hong Kong, Slow Food Youth Networks (SFYNs) around the world are joining together on Saturday, April 29 to celebrate World Disco Soup Day and stop perfectly edible food from reaching landfill. Disco Soup is a food waste awareness event, set to music, where unsellable or expired food from farms and groceries is rescued and made into hundreds of free meals for the public. World Disco Soup Day will be the largest food waste awareness event in history, with over 100 Disco Soups in 40 countries planned for April 29.
Inspired by Feedback’s Feeding the 5000 event, Disco Soup started as “Schnippeldisko,” SFYN Germany’s reaction against the amount of uneaten food sent to landfills by farmers, groceries, and consumers. The FAO estimates that 1.3 billion tons of food are fed to the trash each year — food waste accounts for one third of all global food production.
Although relatively new to the U.S., mostly due to restrictive food permitting laws, Disco Soups are common throughout the world. SFYN Tokyo members like Megumi Watanabe host weekly Disco Soups at their local farmers markets using leftover food from farms. SFYN Brazil hosts monthly Disco Soups, and according to some SFYN France members, the term “Disco Soup” is more widely recognized in France than “Slow Food.”
After organizing a highly successful Disco Xepa Day—a nationwide Disco Soup Day in Brazil—Caio Bonamigo Dorigon, leader of SFYN Brazil, developed the idea of World Disco Soup Day during an international SFYN meeting at Terra Madre 2016 and plans came into action.
U.S. World Disco Soup Day events stretch from Slow Food Vermont to Slow Food Metro North in South Salem, New York to Slow Food Austin in the live music capitol of the world. It is not too late to join the efforts of World Disco Soup Day; Slow Food International outlines a six-step guide to hosting a Disco Soup and events as small as a dumpster-dive potluck do a lot to raise awareness around waste.
We Can’t Afford to Waste
While we as a network advocate for sustainable livestock farming practices that call for “better meat, less” and fishing standards that relax pressure on threatened marine species, it is also essential to consider that 22 percent of meat animals and one half of the seafood currently killed for consumption never get eaten. In addition to costing $1 trillion USD annually, globally food waste creates harmful greenhouse gas emissions, while consuming fuel, soil nutrients, and 25 percent of global freshwater resources.
Global food waste persists as an unnecessary and unjust problem; 795 million people on earth lack secure access to food despite the fact that enough is currently produced to feed the entire global population, and there exist many sustainable alternatives to feeding food to landfills. Even when unfit for human consumption, spoiled food can be recycled to make animal feed, biofuels, compost, or to produce insects, like black soldier fly larva used as a protein-rich, alternative fish feed. Slow Food Austin’s Disco Soup will repurpose all leftover food from the day’s event to Little Herds, a non-profit working “to promote the use of insects for food and feed as an environmentally sound and economically viable source of nutrition.” Little Herds uses leftover food to raise and harvest insects to make sustainable feed for local poultry farms.
Join the Movement
Dance, feast, and fight food waste — join in the global effort to rescue food and #feedbelliesnotbins. Attend a World Disco Soup Day event in your area, host a Disco Soup (or a food rescue potluck), and join in the global discussion online.
Lauren Nelson is a board member of Slow Food Austin and is coordinating North America’s involvement in World Disco Soup Day 2017.