The weather was good. The stall looked fantastic. The volunteers were amazing. And not only did we feed 700 people a delicious vegan curry made entirely from ‘waste’ food, we also got 140 action postcards signed for a more sustainable farming system in the UK.
Following five weeks of intensive planning and organising, phone calls and emails, poster designing, banner making, risk assessment writing and food procuring, Saturday 9th October came and went in a blur of smiling people, great-tasting curry and the smoke from the on-site rocket stoves.
It was an epic effort from a 30-strong team of campaigners over two days of preparation and cooking. The work began on Friday morning when the first surplus food was delivered from Bessemer Rd Market to the Salvation Army Church on Corporation Rd. Cauliflowers, onions, carrots, pumpkins and squashes poured in – plus some mega-sized marrows kindly donated from the Inroads Community Allotment.
Once the rice, poppadoms (yep, surplus poppadoms!!) and chickpeas arrived from event partner FareShare, we had a kitchen full of food. By the end of the afternoon, every available pot and pan was filled with pre-chopped veg, waiting to be cooked first thing Saturday morning.
Led by Wayne Thomas, head honcho at the Canteen on Clifton St, the curry to beat all curries began to take shape by 9.30am. By 11.30, the first delivery of rice and curry had arrived, and within seconds we had our first customer – Gareth, a local Big Issue seller:
From then on, the curry line was steady all day, with people queuing across the street to sample the surplus fare. But while the smell of the curry tempted them over, people weren’t just there for some free grub. It was one of the most positive days of environmental campaigning in Cardiff we can remember – with loads of support for Friends of the Earth’s campaign for a Sustainable Livestock Bill. Wasting fruit or vegetables is bad; wasting meat or dairy is even worse. The UK’s livestock industry is directly responsible for rainforest destruction abroad, thanks to the demand for land to grow the feed for all those animals. Cardiff FoE is campaigning for a Sustainable Livestock Bill, that would make the Government monitor the impacts of our food chain.
There was also lots of interest in the local currency and exchange scheme of SEWLets, and plenty of love for the Cardiff Transition East gang of Feed Cardiff organisers. Storming through the target of feeding 500 people, we managed to get to 700 curries served by the end of the day. We had to send out for more serving plates once the 500 beautiful, biodegradable palm-leaf bowls generously donated by event sponsor The WholeLeaf Company had been used.
But more importantly than the number of people we served, we got 100s of Cardiff folk talking about food waste and how to reduce it, and supporting a campaign for a more sustainable meat and dairy industry.
We fed Cardiff…and then some!