October 16 was World Food Day, an event celebrated annually to mark the day that the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) was founded. Every year the event has an official theme – in 2013 it was Sustainable Food Systems for Food Security and Nutrition. With this in mind, different groups from the growing global movement against food waste decided to come together and use the day to draw attention to one of the food system’s biggest failures: In a world in which around 870 million people are still chronically undernourished, huge volumes of edible food continue to be thrown away every day.
Food waste occurs at every stage of the food chain, but a significant amount occurs at source. Due to strict cosmetic requirements, reflecting the food industry’s idea of how fruit and vegetables should look, many products never leave the farm, for example over-sized melons, wonky carrots or curvy cucumbers.
Luckily however, due to the growing number of organizations and campaigns working on the issue of food waste, awareness is growing and habits are changing. In recent months, one event in particular has captured the imagination of people around the world: Disco Soup.
Disco Soup, with its roots in Slow Food Youth Network Deutschland (Schnippel Disko), sees people, young and old, come together in public places to chop vegetables sourced from local farms and markets that would otherwise have been wasted; often in huge quantities, always to music. Soups and salads are then prepared and distributed free to the general public. The events have been going from strength to strength with people around the world armed with chopping boards, peelers, pots, pans and disco beats showing that the best thing to do with food that would otherwise have gone to waste is to eat it! Recent highlights include New York, Amsterdam (Disco Soep), Nantes (Disco Soupe), and last week, during Slow Food’s AsiO Gusto, in Namyangju, South Korea (Yori Gamu).
This World Food Day, for the first time, Slow Food Youth Network, Youth Food Movement Nederland, DAMn Food Waste, Disco Soupe, and Feeding the 5000, teamed up for an exciting collaboration to organize simultaneous events, in different cities for what became known as Disco Anti Food Waste Day!
The collaboration was a huge success, with events organized in Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Japan, Luxembourg, Macedonia and the Netherlands – reaching a wide audience, the media and even politicians. YFM Rotterdam took part in a record breaking event, cooking continuously for 38 hours, serving 800 people with food that would have gone to waste; while Slow Food Youth in Prague met with students to demonstrate how to easily cook a healthy and tasty meal on just one hob. Meanwhile in Mexico, the Slow Food Network was invited to celebrate World Food Day together with the FAO. In Brussels, Feeding the 5000 used the occasion to officially launch their international campaign against food waste. All in all a great day, and maybe the start of something much bigger…