All posts by Huan Wang

Coffee and the need of Student-run Café in Dawson

 

Coffee plays an important role in people’s daily life. Drinking Coffee helps us to concentrate more on study, work, be more energetic, and lift up the mood. Café is an ideal place to refresh our minds, meet up with friends or family, enjoy some moments on reading, writing alone, or having a discussion with the study partners.

Coffee association of Canada tells us that “Coffee is Canada’s most consumed beverage among adults – even more than tap water. And two thirds of adult Canadians enjoy at least one cup of coffee a day with the average at 3.2 cups/day”. According to CAC’s coffee trends study on 2015, we know that it is pretty common people have coffee in the coffee shops or restaurants, or at work. The consumption of coffee in Canada is very astonishing.

There were 1,358 Starbucks stores as of 2015, and there are more than 3,588 Tim Hortons locations in Canada. More and more café open around the street corner. Those coffee shops do not only provide coffee, but also offer some pastry such as muffins, croissants, donuts, biscuits or grab and go food like sandwiches, wraps. It is quite popular to purchase food where people drink their coffee. Especially for students who have coffee and food often, and study in the café. It is a big consumption group cannot be ignored. A student café in the campus should be run by students themselves in order to provide good quality of coffee and fresh healthy meal with an affordable price and the respect to environment, social sustainability in food services. Specifically, for a pubic college with a large number of students such as Dawson, a student-run café is significant.

Firstly, a student-run café creates job opportunities. It is a great chance for students to get involved in the student community space, achieve experience in food service, customer service and management, improve their communication skills and benefit from a cross culture space.  Secondly, it will be a great learning opportunity about coffee, food and management for students.  There are various kinds of coffee imported to Canada from over 30 countries in the world, the supply chain includes seeding, transportation, roasting and so on. There are also many simple food recipes applied in the café. For instance, students will learn which kind of flour, sugar, vegetables, dairy products are used, and how they are imported to Montreal, what the ingredients are and how much nutrition in the food. The more knowledge they get about coffee and food, the more they will concern about eating habits when it comes to make a decision between processed food products and healthy food options. Furthermore, running a café is a practical way for students who study in business, management, science programs to apply their knowledge from books to reality. Some information or knowledge can be shared at a café based platform. A community vibe in the campus can be created. Student café is not just a place to have coffee, but also can be a place for students to study, make friends, social and communicate with each other. Enjoy a coffee break, having some food and refreshing mind is a convenient way to kill sometime between classes. Now, in Dawson cafeteria, Tim hortons sells coffee, and food company Quesada sells tacos and burritos. Around the college, there are neighbours such as Mc Donald’s, Starbucks and other fast food brands in the food court. This situation weakens the student community feelings. What’s more, student-run café provides the possibility of less paper cups, sustainability for environment and marketing. Within the campus, café plays a critical role for keeping the space cleaned and contributing into protecting the environment. For example, a lower coffee price can be offered if people use their own mugs for coffee instead of paper cups.  People can write down reviews for the coffee, food or the decorations in the cafeteria when they visit, so the service can be improved. Some other strategies could be used to encourage students to pay more attention to the café industry. For instance, Dawson students can enjoy free coffee if they volunteer and make efforts to maintain the cafeteria cleaned and organized. A win-win situation benefits the students and the environment at the same time. Last but not the least, student-run café can provide cheaper coffee on campus, fresh food made of healthy ingredients because it is the choice of students themselves. Ingredients can be brought from local small produces, community gardens or local markets. Without the high technology food process and complicated marketing and food chains, the cost of food materials could be controlled in the certain range. Different kinds of sandwiches, local organic salads, hot soups, fresh baked pastry and brewed coffee can be chosen to meet students’ needs instead of processed food and fast food. The food quality and value of healthy ingredients will be ensured.

This year, students in sustainability department from Dawson Student Union held a free coffee event name “Bring your own mug” from November 8th to 10th in Conrod’s where is next to the Dawson cafeteria. They made the first try to bring people’s attentions into the idea of student-run café and sustainability in school. From the interview with the director of sustainability in DSU Annie Quadros, who was in charge of the event, we know that there are many students really concern about the quality of food and coffee offered by the food companies in school at this moment from sustainability aspect and food security aspect in the student community. Quadros says that this event is not just about the coffee, but also about the awareness of the waste of paper cups, the importance of student-run café and school community. The coffee they chose was from Santropol, which is now one of the first coffee roasters in the world to help build and to register with the first and only fair trade system created, governed and owned by small producers in the South.  In this event, Santropol offered organic and fair trade certified gourmet coffee for free in order to execute the mission of spreading the idea of sustainability. This coffee event was the first time DSU tried to attract people’s attentions to aware the need of student-run café. It was successful held and they received many feedbacks from students in the college. They would like to continue this event next term and make step by step movement towards to the goal of student-run café as what students are expecting.

However, the idea of student-run cafeteria is facing some challenges for us to carry out. First of all, the turnover of students each year is too fast to continue the plan of running the cafeteria. Not like universities, academic years in college are much shorter in fact. A third party such as a coordinator, a teacher, or an organization is needed to connect the different of groups so that the program can be continued effectively. Also, the competition of café is very strong around the school. As what mentioned before, the campus is surrounded by many fast food brands, restaurants, café due to its location. People has the tendency to stay comforts of buying coffee from the chain brands. It’s critical to change the way people consume and consideration. According to the interview with Quadros, the education aspect of food security and sustainability should be improved. People is used to stay in the comfort zone psychotically and go to the place they usually go without considering the price, food quality, and environment. A marketing research must be done to find out how to compensate the needs and the supply. Furthermore, a well-planned structure and space to execute the plan are missing. The contract between food catering company Chartwells and the college prevents the support to student-run café practically. Indeed, an effective and valuable proposal should be provided in order to convince the administration in school to choose what the best is for students. However, it is an undeniable fact that it is hard to start executing the plan without an ideal space where is occupied by the third party at this moment. The plan of transformation a non-profit organization into profitable in a long term should be well structured in order to benefit the student community, the students.

Student cafeteria is the space where students spend lots of time in a day, an ideal place for student events, a place where people connect to each other, study, social, and enjoy their coffee and meal. The amount of money students spend on coffee, especially during exams period, should not be discounted. A student-run café not only provide good quality coffee with a lower price, fresh food, but also gives students a better community surrounding feelings. The significance of making contributions to coffee industry, organic food industry and students’ health should be realized. There are many student-run cafés successfully running in the education institutions, such as The Nest in McGill University, The Hive café in Concordia University, Jake’s café in Vanier College. Those examples show us how important student cafeteria is in student’s daily life.  There is no doubt that the consumption of coffee and food in the school will not only benefit the students themselves, but also the school community.

 

 

 

 

References:

  1. Statista Inc., “Number of Starbucks stores in Canada from 2005 to 2016”, https://www.statista.com/statistics/218392/number-of-starbucks-stores-in-canada/ (2016)
  2. Hollie Shaw , “Tim Hortons Inc.to open 500 new stores in Canada, 300 in U.S.”, http://business.financialpost.com/news/retail-marketing/tim-hortons-inc-to-open-800-new-stores (February 25, 2014)
  3. Coffee association of Canada, “Coffee facts”, http://www.coffeeassoc.com/coffee-facts/ ( March, 2015)
  4. Santropol/Copardes Canada Inc, “Small producers’ symbol”, http://www.bruleriesantropol.com/en/our-mission/fair-trade/the-symbol/
  5. http://ssmu.mcgill.ca/cafe/
  6. http://hivecafe.ca/

Quinoa Salad

 

Quinoa salad

Total time: 35 mins          Image result for quinoa salad pepper

For 3 servings

Ingredients:

1 cups of quinoa, rinsed

6 cups water

Halved red pepper, cut into ¼ inch cubes

Halved orange pepper, cut into ¼ inch cubes

6 cherry tomatoes, sliced

1 bunch Italian parsley leaves, fine chopped

2 spoons lemon juice

2 spoons balsamic vinegar

0.5 cup olive oil

1 table spoon Pesto alla Genovese

1 table spoon salt

1 table spoon black pepper


Directions: 

  1. High heat until water boiling in a large saucepan.
  2. Add the quinoa, stir around, and boil it.
  3. Remove the cover, lower the heat to medium and continue cooking for 15 mins.
  4. Strain and rinse the quinoa with cold water. Use a sieve to shake it in order to remove all the moisture and extra water.
  5. Prepare sliced cherry tomatoes, cubed peppers, and chopped parsley in another bowl, mix them well.
  6. When the quinoa gets dry and cold, transfer it into a large bowl, add the veggies, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, pesto, salt and pepper and mix them well.

 

Quinoa has a great amount of dietary fiber and minerals . Quinoa salad is one kind of well-known green and healthy food. It also helps to prevent heart disease by reducing high blood pressure and diabetes. It is not only simple and quick to make, but also taste good. Try the recipe and enjoy it !

Too busy to cook ?

 

No matter if you are a student, an office worker or a business owner, we don’t usually have enough time.  During the meal time, some people line up in the food court, some people have sandwiches in the cafeteria, and some people just do not eat. Why is that?  Many people will say, I have no time to cook!

Indeed, with  fast paced daily life, it seems very difficult to cook and eat well. How can we keep a healthy life style and have adequate nutrition while we have little time to prepare food? Actually, there are some practical tips we can apply in order to have healthy meals. Cooking at home and making food on our own provides us fresh ingredients, natural choices, rich nutrition and keeps us away from disease such as heart attack, obesity or diabetes.

  • Making weekly food plan

Before going to grocery shopping, come up some recipes or meal plans for the week. Take a few minutes to make a shopping list to help save time and money. There are many easy and quick options available for us to choose from. For example, baked penne with roasted vegetables, butternut squash lasagna, and parmesan crusted chicken breasts with basil and potatoes. Then make sure you have the correct label and date for your food, freeze them, and bring them for lunch. There are also some 10 minutes simple cooking recipes such as Pinto bean Salsa, Cucumber Salad with Chia Seed Strawberry Vinaigrette. More cooking ideas are available on our recipe page.

  • Grocery shop wisely.

Avoiding added sugar products or  already made meal packages as much as possible, choose yogurt, chestnuts, or fruits as snacks and fresh ingredients instead. Chicken, eggs, green vegetables should be your first choice. They not only contain  nutrition such as proteins, fibers and vitamins , but also are easy to make.

  • Eat breakfast.

Breakfast is extremely important because it provides the energy for brain to function in the morning. Skipping breakfast causes poor concentration, more fatigue. Yogurt, fruit smoothies, bagels or peanut butter sandwiches are simple breakfast choices you can take.

  • Backpack ideas

When you feel tired, hungry or thirsty, soft drinks, chocolate bars or fast food are easy access to  and they can fulfill your empty stomach very fast. However, they cost you money and bring you closer to healthy problems. High fibre cereal bars, refillable bottle of water, whole grain crackers, nuts are welcomed to be placed into your backpack. Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water also help us to be energetic and keep your mind clear.

If you do need to eat at a restaurant, choose healthier and lighter meals and take home the left overs and store them in the fridge for next day’s lunch. Change your eating habits step by step. You will find out there is always time to eat well and be healthy.

“Growing food year round”

 

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In Montreal, more and more people not only grow plants, but also grow their own fruits or vegetable such as lettuce, carrots or strawberries. Many residences creatively use their own backyard, balcony, and terrace for food producing gardens. On September 28th 2016, in Concordia Greenhouse Lounge, a conference about “Growing food year round” provided the practical information to guide people on how to optimize the use of spaces, how to maintain the green gardening through the cold winter in Canada, and also introduced some community gardening.

If there is not enough room for a big backyard garden, making use of different sizes of pots and containers is a good idea. They are affordable and have many advantages. For example, hanging baskets help make the most of vertical space and provide nice shades and view, which are ideal for fruit and vegetable plants such as strawberries, some peppers, cherry tomatoes or peas. Also, window boxes, cache pots and white polystyrene foam boxes are the options can be chosen according to the types of plants.  In addition, fresh garden soil should be used every year to maintain moist growing environment for plants and avoid redundant fertilizer because garden soil might contain diseases and drain fast.

In the winter, a wooden mini greenhouse can be used to protect the plants from strong winds and cold climates. Choose three proper size of the wooden boards according to the length and width of the containers, attach them along three sides of the containers, make sure back side has the highest wooden board, and leave the front side facing the sun. Then place a transparent plastic sheet over the frame. Last step is to make a small hinge or opening on the top so that the plants can be reached for watering. Plastic bottles, PVC pipes, and recycling boxes are also can be used to build a small greenhouse to provide heating, moisture for the fruits, vegetables, and microgreens.

It is enjoyable and achievable to grow food and harvest all year round. Growing a wide variety of different vegetables and herbs, make advance planning of sowing and use proper techniques and soil will provide the best way to build your own green food garden.

Fed up

 

How do you control your weight and keep fit? Do more exercises and eat less. It seems like that is the common sense. According to the American documentary film Fed Up in 2014, which was directed and produced by Stephanie Soechtig, the number of people who went to gym increased dramatically since 1970s.  However, doing exercises and eating less might not be enough to lost weight and be healthy. Soechtig reminds us that we should choose food wisely and understand more about the relationship between food and health.

In the documentary, it is mentioned that many food processing companies such as Kraft, Lay’s took away numerous amount of fat contents in food production in order to meet the national policies of limit fat calories since 1977.

In the interview with Soechtig, Dr. Lustig says it is obvious that for many of us, food without fat do not taste as good as before. In order to maintain the sales in the market, food industries produce “new” kind of food products with low fat, but high amounts of added sugar by using new technology. The specialists point out, compared with fresh fruits, homemade bread or organic vegetables, processed food products, such as, juice with added sugar, canned fruits, and sweet jello puddings, cause extremely high risks of health problems such as obesity, diabetes, heart problems and cancers. Why?  Because sugar makes human brains very excited and crave it even more, just like cocaine. Also, we lost the sensitive sense of taste for real food and become addicted to added sugar due to high concentration sweetness. From the documentary,  we know that our bodies are not able to digest so much sugar given in such short period of time, therefore, sugar turns into fat and accumulates in our bodies. The specialists give an example. Human body maximally needs 6 teaspoons of sugar daily, but a bottle of coke has more sugar than 6 teaspoons. The huge amount of sugar gives the digestive system a lot of pressure.

From the statistic given in the film, the rate of diabetes and obesity increases among younger and younger generations. Some big food company, such as Coca-Cola, McDonald, give financial support to some of the health organizations, politicians, and cooperate with advertise agents, toy industry to build a falsehood image in the public and target the young children and teenagers. Soechtig alerts us that children are surrounded by different kinds of food advisements, burgers, pizzas, soft drinks, chocolate bars every day, the serious outcomes and the awful consequences of processed food in their life should be aware.

The specialists suggest that some changes in the food industry should be taken place to prevent the young generation getting addicted to processed food and added sugar.  Indeed, doing exercise is important, but eating healthily is also very significant for health. More fresh healthy food should be given to the children.  Different healthy cooking recipes and nutrition suggestions should be introduced to parents, school and the public as well.