So, lately I’ve been thinking a lot about food. Part of this must be midterm season, against which my first defense is a semiannual shipment of Swedish chocolate bars to remind me of my delicious Stockholm life left behind. More importantly, though, I’ve been thinking about the way the food that we eat relates to our bodies and our societies. Of course, this is where the contemplation of food movements (vegetarianism, veganism, “100 mile diets”, etc) comes in.
What does this have to do with campus life? Two related things, I think. Firstly, the connotation of “campus” – a place for critical discourse and mindfulness of ways of living (“how does what we eat reflect who we are as individuals, and as a society?”), and secondly, “life” – the ways in which we relate these abstract, academic ideas to the down and dirty nature of everyday existence (“where can I find the foods that complement the way I’ve chosen to live my life?”).
Enter: Hot Yam.
Yes, I will probably romanticise it in this blogpost. This initiative stands for all kinds of beliefs I can get behind, regarding food: organic, local, seasonal, vegan, wholesome, and affordable. Oh, and delicious. That’s essential.
Every Wednesday at the Centre for International Experience, student volunteers serve up a creative, healthy meal for only $4. Joining the queue of people chatting happily and eyeing the day’s menu (Valentine’s themed: “Lettuce just be friends” salad – a true story of heartbreak) a vegan friend from hotter climes tells me that in the warmer weather, the lineup goes right out the door toward St George street, while in the winter, the queue manages into a twisting crowd of people keen to escape the cold (this week with the help from some, “It’s not you, it’s Miso” soup). Brilliant.
The culture of Hot Yam is casual, friendly, and engaged. At the next table, some students discuss Toronto-based urban agriculture initiatives. A student sitting at the table with my friend and I sips tea and reads leisurely through a book. It’s the kind of place that’s great for talking to strangers, which just makes it that much better.
After lunch, I head off to a guided meditation session. Nourished by the wholesome authenticity of good food and good company, buddha-body be my body, indeed.