Lunch-time sustainability

By Alexandra Aznar, Sustainability Dashboard Intern

Single folks, especially graduate students, can probably relate to the following cooking scenario: spend several hours on a Sunday making some stew, casserole, pasta salad or what have you, then eat it for dinner and lunch the next day. Another dinner. Another lunch. By the third day of eating said concoction your body and soul crave variety so much you miserably finish off the last serving or heaven forbid just toss the last of it in the trash.  All the while, you’ve probably spent more money cooking for yourself than what you would spend to feed two or three others. Sustainability failure!

I, like many of my peers, came to Bloomington to study environmental and sustainability issues at the IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA). During orientation week, five of us—tupperwares in hand—serendipitously met in the arboretum to have lunch and get to know each other. Each had lived the above scenario. While bemoaning this fate, a solution struck us all. “Taste Buds” was formed.

Taste Buds is a lunch food share. Each person prepares a main lunch course for the group one day a week. Despite the daily demands of graduate school, we often manage to meet at lunchtime to share the meal. We have sustained this practice all semester, each person taking pleasure in preparing one delicious meal a week, enjoying the freedom of not throwing a lunch together the other days, and feeling a sense of community and support in the process.

For me, Taste Buds symbolizes the three E’s of sustainability: environment, economics, and equity.  My group chose to make vegetarian meals for environmental and health reasons. Our food share benefits our budgets. We depend on each other for a simple, yet essential part of the day thereby cultivating a feeling of cooperation and community.

Sustainability is a rich and rewarding interdisciplinary subject to study, but the demands of a Master’s program can divorce theory and practice in individual lives. I see Taste Buds as a means of sustaining ourselves during an arduous program when too often students forsake nourishing practices—exercise, sleep, and nutrition—for their studies.  By breaking bread with my Taste Buds every day, I am renewed and reminded of why I want to study and practice sustainability.


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