Keeping an Eye on the Cooking

The Food and Climate Action team kick-started 2023 with a bang, offering a whirlwind of events from a mini film-festival at host organisation The Space, in collaboration with Take One Action, to soil and composting workshops with our old colleague , Mark Hanlon, as well as a continuation of our community meetings.

For this We’ve Been Busy report, we’re going to hone in on cooking. How have our Activators engaged with communities via cooking? How have they brought climate considerations into the conversation? How do we make people feel comfortable at cooking workshops? We also caught up with Donna Borokinni, Community Cook, Nutritionist and CEO of Happy Cooking for some insights into how she answers these questions.

Film Screenings with Take One Action

Unsurprisingly, our Food and Climate Action project features a lot of cooking! Donna delivered a cooking workshop following the screening of the film, ‘Just Eat It’, programmed as part of the mini-festival with Take One Action. By following a film screening about food waste, the cooking workshop was already contextualised within considerations around more climate-friendly food consumption. Likewise, the film provided a form of passive engagement, easing the audience into the event, so that when the time came for them to actively engage in the cooking element, they felt more comfortable to do so.

We asked Donna, “What do you say to someone who is nervous at a cooking workshop?”

…just come along and try; it takes time and practise. I get nervous too, especially when I am meeting a new group for the first time. I say just do your best, take your time, and whatever happens, I know we will make delicious food.
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Cooking for Resilience

Over in the North of Glasgow, the Food and Climate Action team delivered an 8 week cookery course, ‘Cooking for Resilience’, with host organisation St. Paul’s Youth Forum. The course focused on developing food sustainability and strength in the community, particularly when food systems are in crisis and lead to issues around affordability, access, choice, dignity and diversity.

As well as delivering cooking workshops, the group also welcomed in a number of external facilitators to bring the topics to life. These included:

  • Storytelling workshops with storyteller and published author Allison Galbraith and Digital Media Leader Harald Turek, focusing on food journeys in and around Blackhill.
  • A visit to Gartur Stitch Farm to see an example of sustainable living and reconnecting with the source of our food.  
  • Energy saving workshop, focusing on tips to help save energy while cooking, and raising awareness of the cost of different cooking appliances.
  • Fakeaway workshop, focussing on homemade versions of one of the nation’s favourite takeaway foods: the kebab.
  • Advertising and Marketing workshop, focusing on the influence of adverts and marketing tactics on our food choices and diets and the role of whole systems change in resolving it.
  • Food waste and bulking out food workshop with Happy Cooking 

We asked Donna, “How do you incorporate a climate message in an accessible way?”

…start where you are. It is different for everyone. It could be to eat more in season and locally. If your budget allows, can you switch to buying some organic items? I usually look at the Dirty Dozen list and try to base decisions from there. Can you minimise your food waste? Soup is a great way to use up tired vegetables. You can always cook and freeze—perfect for a quick lunch.

Finally, the group had a presentation day to celebrate the group’s achievements, where they received certificates, new aprons, and resource packs and officially adopted the group’s new name: ‘Cooking Class Crew’.

As with preceding the cooking session at The Space with the screening of ‘Just It Eat’, these varied workshops helped to build a frame of reference for the conversations had around food and climate on the Cooking for Resilience course. They provided different ways in to thinking about cooking, sustainability and food systems and helped to nurture a sense of conviviality within the group, making the sessions a welcoming place to learn. One group-member commented that:

“[The] best thing of the day for me was the photo of us all laughing oh, and not forgetting our delicious food homemade from the farm…. At first I thought it would have been boring but I enjoyed the full day coming away with a bit more knowledge on how farm life runs.”

Key Takeaways

  • Make the sessions fun - people are more likely to be engaged in learning if the pressure is removed
  • Create opportunities for contextualising the learning through visits, storytelling, films etc.
  • Create opportunities for skill and knowledge-sharing - this can be as simple as encouraging participants to tell their family, friends or community one thing that they learnt 
  • Celebrate successes

Lastly, we asked Donna, “What would you share with other cooking instructors?”

I would say you do a great job! No one appreciates how much time it takes to plan the sessions, make classes fun and accessible, and also support people in feeling more confident in the kitchen.

Donna is a great facilitator to work with, bringing a holistic approach to food and climate. She is currently exploring combining this with her other passion, yoga.

It's been a busy start to the year, so I will be enjoying taking things a bit slower over the summer. I recently took over a weekly lunch club in Priesthill. It is such a lovely group, and they keep me on my toes! I have a potentially exciting cultural cooking programme starting on the Southside after the summer holidays. I'm also busy pursuing my other passion, yoga, running a regular yoga class in Toryglen Community Hall. I hope to have a lovely yoga offering in the summer months, connecting my two passions. Watch this space.

If you’d like to do Happy Cooking with Donna, you can get in touch with via her social media: Facebook - Happy Cooking

Instagram - @donna_yoga_happy_cook)

Twitter -  @donna_cooking

Food and Climate Action is a project delivered in partnership by 6 organisations in Glasgow and funded by The National Lottery Community Fund.