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Over the past few years, movies such as Food, Inc. and gruesome articles about the inner-workings of the meat industry have been the catalyst for discussions about sustainability within food production. The issues raised in these forms of media have struck a chord with many Principia students, fueling their goal of leading a more sustainable life. This aim has manifested itself in The Kitchen, a cooking club on campus that makes organic vegan meals every week.
Junior Fassio Elder and friends started the group in order to share their love of cooking with others and to promote sustainable options at Principia. “It was at the point where I was meeting with a few friends several times a week and just cooking and we were like ‘Wow, this is amazing but how can we share the fruits of this with the campus?’ And so it grew pretty organically from us hanging out and cooking and inviting other people,” Elder said.
Elder went on to describe the mission of The Kitchen as “promoting sustainable and vegetarian eating on campus, and we do that mainly through cooking a meal a week that’s open to anyone who wants to come and eat or help cook.”
Elder estimated that the number of people at each gathering varies from about five to seventeen. The meals are open to all who wish to come and share some fresh food. The group has collaborated to make dishes such as stew with veggie dumplings, vegan sushi, and soup. Plus, there’s almost always homemade bread.
Senior and vegetarian Amber Dahlin jumped at the opportunity to participate in The Kitchen. Dahlin said, “I prefer organic foods to a lot of what’s sold in the Scramble Room, and I love cooking my own food anyway.” Still, Dahlin is happy to see more organic and sustainable food items available on campus, like the fair-trade chocolate in the convenience store, and hopes to see more additions like this in the future.
For both Elder and Dahlin, their discovery of corruption in the food production industry ultimately led to their vegan and vegetarian lifestyles. Elder said: “[I became a vegan after] just finding out about some of the practices of the mainstream factory farming industry and obviously I don’t agree with those so I didn’t feel comfortable continuing to support that monetarily.”
For those of you who are wondering, involvement in The Kitchen is not exclusive to vegans or vegetarians. Senior Lily Jones enjoys the tasty meals despite being a meat-eater. “It literally brings delicious food to campus. Over the food, we talk and enjoy each other’s company. I guess you can do that in the Dining Room, but there is something to be said about the communal nature of the whole thing. Plus, full disclosure, I like the food better,” Jones said.
The community feeling within The Kitchen is a major aspect that members enjoy. According to Dahlin: “The community feel is just a lot of fun, to make food with people and then to get to sit down and enjoy it. And of course you get to sit down with friends in the Scramble Room, but I just love being involved with the actual process of making the food with people. That’s mostly what I cherish about it, that sort of community.”
The Kitchen also hopes to bring awareness to Principia through a few campus initiatives that are in the works, including a presentation on sustainable eating and other public events. The group has provided a few meals for the campus already, teaming up with the Permaculture garden and cooking food for their functions.
So, keep an eye out for The Kitchen’s events this semester and take part in the good food and community feel that has become so valuable for the group’s members.