By Amrita Pooni
Amrita is a student entering her final year of university. She is majoring in a B.A. of International Relations at the University of British Columbia. She is currently interning with the Society Promoting Environmental Conservation (SPEC) as the facilitator of the annual Westside Community Food Market (a partnership with Kitsilano Neighbourhood House).
As a student, working on the Westside Community Food Market has given me a new perspective on sustainability. While I have read different papers and listened to lectures of how to create a more environmentally sustainable world, it was hard to ever imagine these methods being used in practice. I have always believed that change can be most effective when it starts from the bottom up. As such, I was excited to contribute to and work with an organization that has been advocating for environmental change for nearly 50 years. Working on the Westside Community Food Market, I learned how markets could help people connect with ethically sourced produce, baked goods, and accessories. Additionally, the coupon program provided low income families with market money to spend at the market. Not only did this program provide access to healthy food for low-income families but also in the process helps to support sustainable businesses. By doing so we helped local sustainable businesses grow and reach even more people.
Personally, to know the exact person who has harvested the veggies I put into my meals or the snacks that I ate during lunch has provided me with a new perspective on what I am eating. It was amazing hearing people’s stories of how they got started with the market. When I listened to the conviction behind people’s personal stories, it showed me the passion people have for the work they do and that was reflected in the products they made. Renee from True Nosh, coming from a family with a history of diabetes, decided to make a company that helps balance your blood sugars and prevent ups and downs. Roger from Farmhouse Bard discussing the power of food in helping people grow and bringing people together. Sheila from Zero Waste Christmas who as a child of Depression-era parents always saved and reused wrapping paper from gifts, but decided to take it further last year by sewing gift bags for all the little gifts. It was thought provoking and I found myself questioning every purchase that I made and where I chose to spend my money in my everyday life. It lead me to make certain lifestyle changes such as supporting my local coffee shop instead of a chain coffee shop. Learning theoretical concepts in class is one thing, but having the opportunity to actually take action and see ideas come to fruition, has been life changing.