The Slow Food “Whatchagot Stew”

Disco Soup, any idea what that is? Ya, neither did I.  To put it very simply, it is Slow Food’s version of “Whatchagot Stew”.

Growing up, every Sunday night my family would all say prayers together and then my dad would read “stories”.  My dad read us the classics, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Around the World in 80 Days, but he also read us all of Pat McManus’s books.  McManus is an author who writes funny novels about his life.  To be honest, I never got any of the jokes until I reread them as an adult, but man can I hear my dad chuckling as he tried to make out the words.  That in and of itself could make the rest of us burst into giggles.  

Anyways in Pat McManus’s stories, he would sometimes talk about ‘Whatchagot Stew’, a stew made of whatever you have with you or could find.  This is basically what a disco soup is.  For Slow Food, it is food made out of food waste.  The Condutta of UNISG (University of Gastronomic Sciences – my school) went around Bra the day before and collected food waste from restaurants, markets,  and shops.  We cleaned it and made dishes out of it the next day.

Saturday April 29th was World Disco Soup Day 2017. Throughout the world, Slow Food communities were doing the same thing.  In one day we were saving tons of food from going to waste.  It was incredible to see how much good food would have been thrown away in just our little town of Bra.

We have all heard “there are children starving in Africa, don’t waste your food”.  It actually is quite universal, I remember gawking the first time I heard an Italian mom say it to her child.  We all roll our eyes and whine about finishing our plate.  But food waste is a massive issue.  The world is divided between incredible waste and equally incredible hunger.  If we ever dream of correcting this issue, it starts with each of us.

Think food waste is making a big deal out of nothing? I have challenge for you readers. For the next week, keep one bag in your kitchen for any and all food waste.  Leftovers that don’t get eaten, produce that goes bad too quickly, the last bite of lunch you just can’t stomach.  Sitting here you can’t think of much that you create in a week, but keep a bag of it, you’ll be surprised.  Now think of that bag in every household, and add restaurants, supermarkets, producers, transporters, and small shops.

Food waste gets completely overlooked.

Biological waste is one of the elements we divide out of our trash in Italy.  After my first week here, I was honestly disgusted to see how much good food I had wasted.  In a matter of minutes on my walk down to the bin, I vowed it would not happen again.  Every week the bag becomes less.  There is so much food being wasted, and so many people going hungry, you’d think it could even itself out.  But the tables won’t turn unless we act.

Disco Soup Day in Bra was a Saturday afternoon spent eating in the park.  There was music and laughter, ingenuitive people cooking and everyone eating.  It was a fun relaxing day but for me it was a challenge.  I stood at the tables, watching the chefs look at the scraps they had, and seeing their gears turning to think of what they could create.  It’s my latest personal challenge, how do I not only reduce my food waste, but reuse it as well.  

Stay hungry and waste less.

-The Very Hungry Traveler

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