Chop and cook to the sound of the beat is the call of the international movement called Disco Soup, which is encouraging people all over the world to take action to save food from going to waste.
We thought it would be a great way to inspire people in West London, so teamed up with Southall Transition who are passionate about running events like this and sharing food related ideas in the community. Southall Transition is a resident led community group which seeks to help people learn to live more sustainable lives.
The members of Southall Transition helped get the message out that a Bhangra Disco Soup was being held to fight waste and celebrate food and that we wanted locals help to chop and prepare fruit and veggies which would otherwise go to waste.
We went door to door talking to residents and visiting convenience stores and supermarkets all over Southall. We were so pleased when Vipul the owner of Quality Foods Supermarket said he’d be happy to help us and to come back the day before the event to collect some food. We thought we’d get a few boxes but Vipul and his team showed up two pallets of food which we could take our pick from. We asked if this was all going to waste. The warehouse staff said “Some ladies know how to clean this food up and use it. They come and buy it at a much reduced price. We’re pleased it doesn’t have to go to waste.”
Professional chef Dipna Anand tweeted us saying her family run Brilliant Restaurant, from Channel 4’s ‘Ramsay’s Best Restaurant’ series, could help with a box of veg.
There was more from Mor Foods and Sira Superstore, whose owners were both happy to help us with all sorts of fruit and vegetables including cucumbers, tomatoes, aubergines, okra, apples, bananas, lentils, beans, spices and much more.
We were told by the owner of Mor Foods that “in Southall we don’t have so much food waste compared to our stores in others locations. People here know they can use food even if it doesn’t look so good. We reduce it and it always sells”.
On the morning of the event we took all the food we had collected to the venue and filled the kitchen, we almost didn’t have room to prepare!
People started arriving and we showed them all the veg and fruit which needed chopping. Johnny said “I can’t believe all this could have been thrown away and this is just one day from a few shops!”
Sira Superstore owner, PJ, told us he loved cooking and dropped in to show us the best way to chop tomatoes.
We even had a special guest come and help peel! The London Assembly Member for Ealing and Hillingdon, Dr Onkar Sahota.
The wonderful ladies who came to help in the kitchen created a vegetarian feast of daal, bhagan, karela, rice and a both veg and fruit salads.
People dug in and chatted over their meal. You could hear people saying “this food is fantastic!”.
After dinner we watched a short video of food waste campaigner Tristram Stuart talking about supermarket food waste. Local chef Yasmin, who helped cook our meal, gave some quick tips for using up food scaps. “Use your leftover daal instead of water when making your chapatis” was our favourite. We gave the choppers and volunteers from the kitchen a big hand for their great effort making the meal.
And cue dancing!
We all celebrated saving the food we collected from the bin. People chatted about their own ideas for reducing food waste. Those needing help to tackle the amount of food they throw away signed up to our Food Challenge. The challenge is packed full of helpful hints and information to help you save money and food from the bin.
When the eating and dancing was over people left with some leftover daal and veg to cook at home and lots of food waste tips plus some great Love Food Hate Waste leftover recipe cards.
Dave from Southall Transition said “Southall’s first Bhangra Disco Soup event was a huge success. Combining delicious food, great dance music and a powerful awareness-raising message about food waste was a winning combination. I hope we can do it again.” If you would like to help Southall Transition save food, get in contact with them.
If you are interested in hosting your own Disco Soup advice is available from Feedback, which campaigns to end food waste at every level of the food system and are creating a guide to running Disco Soups.