Cooking with trash: Islanders invited to create communal soup with food waste
Ingredients include info sessions on food waste, free soup and a disco dance
Islanders are being invited to help create a communal soup with food that would otherwise end up in the garbage.
The free event is called Disco Soup, and is hosted by Fusion Charlottetown — a volunteer group that encourages the engagement of city residents between the ages of 20 and 40.
The event will offer information sessions, a disco dance and finish off with free soup. It's just one of many in a week-long set of events aimed at drawing attention to food waste.
Participants at Disco Soup are expected to help peel, chop and prepare the soup made with previously donated ingredients that would have otherwise become food waste.
P.E.I. chef Terry Nabuurs will be starting off with a demonstration of proper chopping technique.
"We need to start thinking critically about how we look at our food chain," said Nabuurs, who owns the Wheelhouse restaurant in Georgetown.
Disco Soup started in Germany seven years ago as a way to protest against — and draw attention to — food waste. From there, the event spread across the world.
It isn't pretty
According to a 2011 study by the Food and Agriculture Organizations of the United Nations, globally about one-third of food produced for human consumption — nearly 1.2 billion tonnes — goes to waste, which happens across all areas of the supply chain.
Nabuurs said coming from a farming family, he has seen the different ways food is wasted.
A lot of food gets left behind in the fields and on the farm before it makes it to our retail counter.Karen Murchison, P.E.I. Certified Organic Producers Cooperative
"One of the things you realize is how much we actually grade out amazing product," he said. "Just because it's not visually appealing or the exact size people are looking for."
Nabuurs said people have to get used to using "the not so pretty parts of food."
Karen Murchison, research co-ordinator for the P.E.I. Certified Organic Producers Cooperative, echoed Nabuurs.
"In my day-to-day job I work with farmers and I see first-hand how much food is wasted at that point in the food chain," she said.
"A lot of food gets left behind in the fields and on the farm before it makes it to our retail counter."
She said that food left behind is lost revenue and opportunity, but she knows consumer opinion does not change overnight.
"Unattractive produce is still edible and it is still highly nutritious," Murchison said.
Reducing waste at home
There are also ways people can cut down on food waste in their own kitchens.
"You can use discarded vegetable peels to make soup stock, you can use waste material from your juicer to make muffins or cakes or other nutritious foods," Murchison said.
She said that starting those behaviours may help consumers look at food differently when they head to the grocery store
Another common problem is people taking advantage of two-for-one deals and buying more than they can actually consume, Murchison said.
Nabuurs said he has made some changes to cut down on food waste, like switching to lighter-fleshed yellow potatoes.
"I will boil it with the skin on and actually mash that right in," he said.
Nabuurs said you can lose a lot of nutrients and flavour by peeling certain vegetables.
"One of the easiest things we can do is try and eliminate some of that, peels or rinds of different vegetables."
Bring some supplies
Nabuurs will be at the Disco Soup event preparing the meal with the help of those attending Nov. 9 from 3 to 6 p.m. at the West Royalty Community Centre.
Soup is being made for about 100 people and everyone planning to attend the free event is asked to bring peelers, cutlery, bowls and take away dishes to cut down on waste.
Disco Soup is the main event for the week of programming, starting Nov. 2. For a full schedule visit the Disco Soup Facebook event page.
Organizers worked alongside P.E.I. Food Exchange and Charlottetown Food Council to set up the event, which is being funded by Charlottetown's Community Sustainability Micro-Grant.