Trent’s Plants in Society Wrap-Up: Local Food at Canada’s Outstanding Small University

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Trent Biology student, Namrata Arif, enjoys some pot-luck lunch.

Students at Gzowski College were tempted by the aromas of fresh, handcrafted foods as the Biology 2290: Plants in Society course held a series of potlucks celebrating local/seasonal vegan cooking.

“It’s a great way to wrap up the year,” said course instructor, Sara Pieper of the tasty gatherings.  “We’ve been covering the role of plants on nutrition, the advantages of local agriculture on our food systems, and the origins of much of the food that we eat.  How better to conclude it than by sharing a meal made up of local produce?”

While early spring doesn’t yield many options for local produce, students were creative when coming up with recipes.

“You probably don’t have to guess who suggested making borsht,” laughed Dimitri Sivak, proudly displaying his Ukrainian heritage. His beet-based soup featured plenty of local root vegetables.

“This entire course has been very hands on and practical,” said fellow student, Paola Hernandez, “and with this potluck, you can’t help but be hands on. It just makes sense to show a commitment to local foods by enjoying some of it as part of the course.”

While many of the students emphasized the environmental health associated with local, seasonal, and vegetarian diets, Namrata Arif was excited about what she learned about plants and human health. “Before this course, I didn’t necessarily eat all that healthily,” she admitted.  “This course opened my eyes to a lot of nutritional information.”

Ms. Arif found the potluck to be a fun challenge. “Everything here is vegetarian, and much of it is vegan. This was the first time I had ever tried to make something like a cake without using eggs or milk.  You definitely have to be creative.”

For Ms. Arif, information about food sources was transformative. “The course also introduced me to some of the environmental science surrounding agriculture and food choices. It’s challenged some of my buying and eating habits.  Really, this kind of information definitely affects how you think about the food supplies and sources in our society.  Everyone should be required to take it.”

Biology 2290 provides an in-depth examination of the role of plants in human society, both past and present. Topics include the development of agricultural practices through the ages, current uses of plants by humans, sustainability, and plant-based ecosystem services. The role of biotechnology on food production and uses of plants for medicinal purposes are also considered.

For more information on the course, please visit: