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Event of the Month: Cookin’ Up Justice

Attendees get hands on experience by helping to cook a seasonal spaghetti squash dish.

Every first year college student had heard about the “freshman 15”. Even though average weight gain may not be a full 15 pounds, studies show that most freshman students do gain weight. Many college students complain that it’s too hard to prepare health-conscious food. Nutrition takes a back seat to taste and convenience.

During Loyola’s homecoming week, Oxfam, the Growers Guild, and Student Environmental Alliance set out to help revert this trend with their “Cookin’ Up Justice” event. This free event was held on Saturday, October 15th at BVM Hall on Loyola’s Lakeshore Campus from 11am-1pm. The dozen attendees helped prepare and cook the dishes they ate. The main intent of the event was to show how sustainable and simple it is to eat healthier and more environmentally conscious as a college student.

The event focused on making vegan and vegetarian dishes that incorporated locally and seasonally grown ingredients.

The coordinators laid out simple steps you can take in order to make yourself a more conscious shopper. Suggestions included shopping at farmer’s markets to ensure that the food you buy is in season and locally grown, and also to shop at stores like Whole Foods where the majority of their products are organic. These steps also help to support local farmers and help them to continue to produce quality products.

Ariana Loehr, a member of Oxfam, explained this concept. “We have interest in supporting local farmers and the human aspects behind farming food instead of letting big organizations and companies take over.”

Most attendees were pleasantly surprised with the preparation speed and the taste of the final products, which included  vegetable chili,spaghetti squash and the apple cinnamon crumble pie. Some attendees even claimed that these environmentally conscious options were even better than their “mainstream” alternatives like spaghetti from an Italian restaurant or a pre-made pie from the freezer isle.

Suzane Hirt, 19, attended the event because of her interest in ethical issues such as food production and distribution, but she left with a lot of practical knowledge. “I ate some food that I’ve never eaten before,” she said, referring to the spaghetti squash. “I don’t cook very much. I did some cooking and feel closer to it. I also learned how easy it is to make something that’s good for you and for the earth.”

Julia Poirier, a junior at Loyola and 3 year member of Oxfam, was one of the coordinators of the event. She was pleased about how the event was able to raise awareness for food justice, a topic she is passionate about. She also discussed what drove her to become involved in food justice. “When I first became vegan and vegetarian, I thought the driving factor was animal rights, but I realize now that it’s more environmentally driven. I’m more focused on sustainability and human rights. It’s important to take small scale action when you can.”

Photo by Joe Flaherty

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The Hub Bub is a collection of articles, videos, audio, photo slideshows, interactive maps and other media produced by students enrolled in journalism courses at Loyola University Chicago's School of Communication. For more about the School of Communication, our award winning faculty, and our state of the art facilities located in the heart of Chicago, visit our website.