Chicken strips are not the only way
//Katie Shore, Writer

Between the hundreds of burger chains and other fast food restaurants with mainly processed ingredients in the Lower Mainland, it can seem difficult to have health-conscious eating habits, especially if you are a student with a lower budget. However, with four to 10 per cent of Canadians being vegetarian or vegan, along with the rise in awareness of eating locally, people have discovered ways to eat fresh and interesting food. The Food for Thought program at Capilano, organized by the Social Justice committee of the Capilano Students’ Union, hopes to share ideas and healthier eating habits, along with some great recipes, with their fellow students.

The Food for Thought program began in the fall 2010 semester after Social Justice Coordinator for the CSU Kelsey Didlick and Social Justice Committee member Tiare Jung came up with the idea to raise awareness for “exploring food with higher ethical standards” on the bus one day. “I’ve always been interested in food security issues and we hope that we can get more people interested in things such as vegetarianism, veganism and buying local,” says Jung. “The fact that it is a group thing … opens it up more. It’s always great to go to the farmer’s market and meet the people who grew the squash you are buying. We become associated with the food that we eat.”

We by no means are trying to preach vegetarianism but we recognize that finding out information on the environmental, social and ethical impacts of our food choices can be difficult,” adds Didlick. “What better way to share knowledge then do come together and talk about it over delicious food?”

During the first Food for Thought meeting of the new semester, a group of 10 people gathered to eat and discuss food issues. Described as a “vegan potluck,” interesting food such as butternut squash and tofu chocolate pie was brought by members and was extremely well-received by all attending. The official topic of discussion for the meeting was different kinds of milk. Almond milk, as it turns out, is quite easy to make at home and provides nutrients such as vitamin E, zinc and potassium that those who are eating an animal-free diet may be lacking. Hemp milk is almost green in colour and a bit strong in flavour, appealing to some but unappetizing to others. And did you know that coconut milk can be used in IVs as a blood substitute? From the amount of information shared around the table, it became obvious that those involved with the Food for Thought program were not only passionate about food, but knowledgeable about it as well.

As the discussion continued, other food-related issues that arose included organic companies, such as Kashi, being bought out by bigger companies, as well as eating well with a student lifestyle.

“That should be discussed in a future meeting. On a student budget, what is worth buying local? What compromises should be made?” expressed Jung. “I know if I bought all my food from farmers’ markets, I would be broke.” On that note, the second half of the potluck consisted of workshops and themes for future meetings. A canning workshop and the making of kombucha, a fungus good for digestion, were agreed upon as future workshops. They also plan to tackle less specific topics, such as vegan baking and the possibility of a fair trade club at Capilano.

When, towards the end of the meeting, the attendees were asked about their thoughts on the cafeteria food, there was a collective cringe around the table. “Aramark food service is appalling,” says Didlick. She revealed that the Social Justice Committee is in the concept stage of developing a campaign opposing the food service monopoly, along with perhaps looking at the option of a food service through the CSU. It was clear that the Food for Thought members were unimpressed with the “overpriced“ food provided by the cafeteria.

The Food for Thought program hopes to meet on the first and third Tuesday of every month, at 11:30 a.m. in the student lounge in the Maple building. “We really hope it will become a consistent thing,” says Didlick. Everyone is encouraged to attend these meetings and bring vegan food if they wish. Students are also asked to attend Social Justice Committee meetings if they are interested, which take place Fridays at 11:30. They will be hosting a Social Justice Film Festival in the near future.

As the group dispersed, it was evident that they were already excited about their February 15 meeting, in which they would learn about growing Alfafa sprouts.

“We hope that the Food for Thought program grows,” says Jung. “We want people to see that vegetarian and veganism are opportunities as opposed to sacrifices.”

//Katie Shore, Writer

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