HomeCooked Concordia strives to be a community for CU students through food and learning
In March 2020, the world went into lockdown and classes went online; people were encouraged to order food, support local businesses and take a chill pill — all was (relatively) well. A year later we see that this lifestyle wasn’t short-term, and we are now living in an age of isolation.
Not to mention, we are all feeding ourselves in our kitchens versus the once typical lifestyle of dining out.
Aida Setbel, a Sociology student at Concordia University, was a keen user of Concordia’s food organizations, such as the People’s Potato and the Hive Cafe. But, when they were confined to their home, they started to wonder how the absence of these organizations would impact students, “because it was also impacting me,” they explained.
The reach of these organizations was just not far enough for their liking.
“I realized that there’s not a lot of Concordia organizations that help people to prepare the food at home. It’s mostly, like, giving people meals. But I was wondering, how sustainable is that in the long term?”
And then the idea of HomeCooked Concordia started to stew in their mind.
The idea of HomeCooked Concordia is to support students and help them learn how to cook their own meals, and to educate them on their food, where it comes from, and when it is in season. The organization teaches its followers how to eat not only more sustainably, but also healthier. And that doesn’t mean the food is less tasty!
It’s a relatively new project, and has been in the works all year. However, Setbel expressed that there have been some hardships along the way. They addressed these by asking themselves lots of questions to ensure the impact of this project would be meaningful.
I don’t want to rush into creating things that are not going to be relevant for students or just for the community at the moment,” said Setbel.
But the club isn’t your typical food blog. In fact, it rejects the idea of individualism and concentrates on the ‘community’ aspect of home cooking.
“I think it’s important for me to put it as a Concordia-based initiative, because it’s a community organization that I’m interested in fostering. I don’t want it to be like, my personal brand, like my blog [where] I’m gonna have affiliate links to Amazon. That’s not the vibe,” said Setbel.
In order to get this organization the support it needs to make a meaningful impact, Setbel would need more community involvement.
“I’m looking into partnering up with other student organizations who either worked in something related or who are giving out funding for this type of project.”
From graphic artists to amateur student cooks, there is an abundance of need.
Setbel’s relationship with food has been a growing one, and, through the pandemic, one that has become increasingly important to them. They realized that their budget did not include the ‘ordering food’ premium, and it seemed there were no good food options. With that, it became increasingly important to become independent with food.
That’s why I got into home cooking, personally, because I can’t afford to go to a restaurant, […], and yeah, just like home cooking for me was a way for me to make my life affordable,” they said.
Young people’s relationship to food tends to be more disconnected, and leans towards processed, pre-made options thanks to the microwave cooking time advertised on the box. HomeCooked Concordia hopes to bring the knowledge and love of food back to our students.
Setbel said, “The things that always come to mind for me when I think of cooking are the social, environmental and individual impacts.” Through these three facets, food and cooking can have different effects.
Typically, we think of the social impact of food being how it brings us together. However, Setbel is also referring to the food we can have thanks to the destruction of father countries, such as any chocolate bar containing palm oil.
“[It’s thinking] about monocultures that are destroying the autonomy and the food sovereignty of certain places that now … only grow wheat to make bread or like, cattle feed or whatever else, and then they have to import [food],” said Setbel. In other words, it is important for us to know where our food comes from in order to be aware of the impacts it can have.
As Setbel indicates, how far our food has to travel can result in major environmental impact. They explain, “The industrial system that is there right now is benefiting from the lack of knowledge on food to sell people the cheapest option available and make it seem like a good thing for them.”
Finally, the individual impact of food is what directly relates to us, our health and the benefits of eating whole foods and homemade dishes.
“There’s something for me about being able to cook a meal that has the nutrients and the energy to keep your growth going through your week.”
Graphic and photo courtesy of HomeCooked Concordia