The Michigan Sustainable Foods Initiative (MSFI) is a small student-volunteer organization, operating as part of  U of M’s Sustainable Foods Program, a collaboration of various groups on campus. MSFI serves to promote awareness and education for students concerning sustainable foods beyond just Kraft Mac n’ Cheese, and connect students with the resources they need to obtain sustainable foods. In addition to various volunteer opportunities, the club offers unique workshops to teach cooking skills with an emphasis on how to prepare sustainable foods in various ways.

I was able to sit down and chat with Diana Bach, the club’s communications chair. Diana joined during her sophomore year at Michigan and has been involved for the past 2 years.  “During my last years of high school, I learned a lot about the food systems,” Bach recalls. “I started to learn how to cook and make my own food, as well as where it all really came from.”

During her freshman year, Diana explained that the dining halls hindered her newfound interest in sustainable foods diet. “It was hard to keep up with a sustainable food lifestyle in the dorms because you have no control over what you’re eating. When I moved out my sophomore year, it got a lot easier. It all takes a lot of planning, and learning,” she said.

Bach’s involvement in MSFI has given her the opportunity to explore new sustainable food options. As a club, MSFI holds hands-on workshops, usually preparing some sort of dish. They also focus on eating with the seasons. In tune with the Thanksgiving season, the group recently picked apples at a local orchard, and then used them to make applesauce the following week. Sustainability aside, you are never too old for applesauce (at least that’s what I keep telling myself…).

The club’s various cooking sessions demonstrate their ultimate goal: to educate students on how to eat with a sustainable food mindset. Sure, it’s sometimes easier to just grab Jimmy John’s (or perhaps Firehouse Subs) to-go, but it’s important to know what’s going on with your food — where it’s coming from and how it’s affecting the environment. MSFI invites anyone interested to join in on the cooking classes. One of Bach’s personal favorites was the groups’ homemade pizza. The club actually made the mozzarella cheese from scratch (I know, I’m impressed too).
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So, while it’s hard to find both the time and the cash to be sustainable on campus, Diana and MSFI has made a point to try. And we think that’s pretty awesome.