When you’re deliriously scarfing down noodles as a midnight study break or inhaling a granola bar betwixt your millions of midterms, it can be hard to even just taste what you’re eating, let alone to stop and think about where it came from and how it fits into the bigger picture of the food system.
On October 24th, organizations across the country hope to help you do just that as they come together for Food Day: a nationwide celebration and movement dedicated to the conversation around how to make food healthy, affordable and sustainable for everyone. Northwestern students will get to flex their (admittedly well-toned) socially conscious/activist muscles for NU’s own Food Day, which will see Spoon, Campus Kitchens, SEED, Green Cup, NUCHR, Wild Roots, McSA, NOM, NU Sustainable Food Talks and Veg Society all coming together to host events both delicious and enlightening on the 23rd and 24th.
The issues Northwestern Food Day hopes to bring light to range from sustainable agriculture to the role of food monoculture in furthering the U.S. obesity and diabetes problems to world hunger and farmworker injustice. If any of those buzz terms stoke your appetite, you’ll definitely want to check out the Food Day PB&J making marathon at Norris for area food kitchens, Wild Roots’ gardening workshop or the discussion on sustainability and dietary laws hosted by the Veg Society, McSA and OM (all on the 23rd). Or, if you’re really just in it for the snackage but still want to do your part, head to The Rock on the 24th for an on-campus farmers’ market. The day culminates on the 24th with a Food Access Panel in Fisk, where various actors within the food movement will share their perspective on how to best improve food access in America (you can score Green Cup points while you’re at it!).
Even though it might be the last thing on your mind—especially during midterm season—the food we choose to buy and eat plays a small but mighty role in affecting systems and lives much larger than us, from the hungry and impoverished to the global ecosystem. So mark your calendars and make time for Northwestern Food Day 2013, if you want a truly delicious way to make a difference.
For the full low-down on Food Day, check out the website. Check out Northwestern Food Day’s Facebook page for a full list of event times and locations. In the meantime, here are 5 simple ways to snack sustainably!
- Hit up the Evanston Farmers’ Market or the Evanston CSA (community supported agriculture program).
By supporting local businesses, you’re helping out not only farmers and the community, but also the environment at large by voting with your food dollars for sustainable organic food practices. The CSA works through customers who pay up front for a farmer’s supply before picking it up later at its predetermined drop-off location, allowing farmers to grow organic produce without relying on banks and loans. The Farmers’ Market is a treasure trove of 51 vendors selling seasonal, local produce and artisanal delights. Or if you’re looking for a slightly fancier market and a downtown adventure, check out the Chicago French Market. It’s a great way to support the local economy, engage with the community, and grab delicious, healthy stuff.
- Grow some herbs.
Start small with gardening by planting some herbs like rosemary and mint, and growing them in your kitchen windowsill. It’s easy and cheap, but even the smallest action toward a more sustainable food system adds up to make an impact—and who knows, you might find yourself with a full-on urban rooftop garden soon. Besides being a fun side project and source of bragging rights, gardening (when done right) yields exponentially more fresh and delicious things. For tips to get started right in your own kitchen, check out Kitchen Garden International.
- Make Mondays meatless.
The Meatless Monday movement wants you to take this one day a week to not eat anything with a face. Why? Just one meatless day a week, over time, may reduce your risk of chronic preventable conditions like cancer, diabetes and obesity. Not to mention, it can also help reduce your carbon footprint by minimizing water usage and supporting reduction of fossil fuel dependence. NUCuisine does it, Spoon does it, even Chicago restaurant Epic Burger is nixing Monday meat—now it’s your turn!
- Greenify your goods.
Whether or not you care about sustainability, it’s straight up trendy to be eco-friendly—especially when it comes to your kitchen supplies. Mason jars are a prime example of what’s actually an eco-minded upcycle that’s now become a hipster staple, but there are also zillions of stylish reusable water bottles and sleek bamboo cutting boards (and spoons, and bowls, et cetera) out there, all of which can play a part in your commitment to sustainability.
- Throw dinner parties.
Using seasonal, local, sustainable ingredients to make a delicious meal to enjoy with friends is the best way to spread the word about food system issues—which is the only way things will ever stand a chance of changing. Instead of catching up over late-night delivery pizza, consider planning the occasional weekend potluck or weeknight cooking sesh with your friends. Check out Sustainable Table’s awesome recipes for ideas, or use your farmers’ market loot to make delicious Spoon recipes: fresh-picked apples make a great vegan dinner hash are equally great coated in caramel, walnuts, and chocolate chips. In both love and activism, the way to reach someone’s heart is always through their stomach.