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"Our Chip in the Universe" - February 5th, 2021

Updated: Feb 11, 2021

"Chocolate is universal."

Throughout childhood and into my adolescent years, I have recalled this one quote many times—and each time, I cannot help but agree.

Chocolate is universal.

Chocolate, since its origin in Latin America, has spread and influenced the culinary cultures of countless countries and touched the hearts of many people, young and old, all over the world. Chocolate, a staple of extensive desserts spread across the globe, possesses the unique ability to connect the human emotions of loss and grief, gifting and joy, and yet also, sadness and love.

And whether you're from a bustling urban city that never sleeps, or from the rural countryside where the evening sky is scattered with the twinkles of stars and filled with the silence of the night, chocolate is a delightful delectable that you would be certain to enjoy—including its debut in the deliciousness of the vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe from SEA Club's baking session on Friday, February 5th, 2021.

I'm incredibly grateful to have partaken in Friday's baking session hosted by the SEA Club. There are not many things that I would willingly put aside getting a jump start on my homework for, but I must openly admit that cookies are undoubtedly one of them. And the promise of homemade desserts filled with chocolates and the irresistible goodness (and perhaps, gooeyness) that comes with spending time with your friends after a long day at school just seemed too convivial to refuse.

The event kicked off with a speech about sustainability from our club's leader, Merry Ding. And although most teenagers in our little corner of history are entirely indifferent to the genuine aspects that this club represented, the members of the SEA Club were not any of them.

(Courtesy of the SEA Club Leaders)

With the establishment of the SEA Club, Merry and the rest of its leaders are striving to educate the public and spread awareness about the importance of environmental sustainability and stability. The active members of the club, including Merry, officially state, "We hope to focus on the various ways we can implement environmentally mindful and responsible actions into our daily lives."

"In this event, we wanted to introduce our club through a fun and interactive baking session!" Merry described the purpose of the educational opportunity that the club had hosted on Friday. "Through this baking class, we explored one very important aspect of sustainability: cooking. As we made our cookies, we discussed simple ways we could reduce the amount of waste we produce from food and making food, by bringing sustainable practices into the kitchen."

As a matter of fact, developed countries, such as the United States and Australia, may produce up to a hundred billion pounds of food waste per year, and the SEA Club's ultimate goal during Friday's event was to inform and warn their fellow Memorial Senior High School classmates that the wrapper from that chocolate bar which you may have blissfully enjoyed as a snack during lunch, could become part of the detrimental contribution that leads to "irreversible environmental consequences and the contamination and pollution of our planet’s ecosystems" (Merry Ding).

Much of the common populace residing throughout the world are frequently unaware of the repercussions resulting from their careless and often unintentionally ignorant actions towards the environment. And it is people like the members of the SEA Club, who—with a bit of research, a bit of social connection, a bit of perseverance, a bit of hope, and a lot of heart—are fundamentally able to come to the realization that, "just by simply making cookies from scratch, we are already elevating ourselves one step closer to environmental friendliness."

Hence, throughout the progression of the speech that our leader had given, I, and many of my fellow peers within the club event, had come to understand that even if one were to just want something as simple as a chocolate-chip cookie, sustainability of something as critical as the environment shouldn't have to be sacrificed for the sake of a little bit of chocolate and maybe some satisfaction of the appetite. And as most things in nature do go, one should always find a way—even if it must be distant—to balance its counterparts, complements, or consequences out.

Fresh ingredients shouldn't have to come at the expense of the only—and very limited—planet that we currently reside upon. A moment's worth of delight shouldn't come at the expense of a whole future's worth of grimness. And ever crucially, a lovely, well-cooked (or baked) homemade meal should never come at the expense of the home that it was created within.

There are so many ways that one could aid and sustain the precious environment and world that we live in while still preserving the fundamentals of the standards, traditions, and cultural practices that all of us around the globe hold so dear to our human hearts. Numerous alternatives to customs that are generally very common yet environmentally-inimical could be cultivated within the education and practices of those who choose to spread and share them. According to Merry, many of these promising prospects are certain to include the assurance that the average citizen, "saves trips to the grocery store, saves money, and saves unnecessary production of waste" for the environment.

Therefore, SEA Club is proud to present our very first environmentally-friendly and sustainable recipe: our uniquely own vegan-friendly chocolate-chip cookies—an inspiration and aspiration—and moreover, an anticipation—for the future (of not only dessert recipes). And tying in with the theme, it brings out the very best of sustainability within the environment—along with the humanity and thoughtfulness of just spending an evening with your friends and the people that you respect—while still emphasizing the universality (and deliciousness) of chocolate.

Merry, our club leader and head writer of the club's recipes, emphasized the many ways that one could evolve their cooking methods and customs, including the club's practice of "using simple ingredients to make our own cookies." And as a flourishing and fulfilling result, the SEA Club was successful in "reducing the amount of waste that comes from single-use plastics that would contribute to further environmental damage if we were to go to the store and buy premade cookies or premixed cookie batter" (Merry Ding).

We started off with the basics of constructing your standard, yet delectable, chocolate chip cookie. Later on, throughout the process, many other ingredients—some completely foreign to me, such as tahini (which I, unfortunately, lacked during the cooking session,) and others I was more than familiar with, such as brown sugar—were added to the overall composite of ingredients. Many of my peers' hands were grievously drowned in oil—while, on the other hand (pun unintended), I still insist that my desserts didn't have enough oil in them—so much that they may never have the need to apply moisturizer to their hands ever again. Afterward, while my friends worked with the variety of items that had been mentioned in the official list of required ingredients, I, again (and regrettably), lacked a few of the necessary ingredients to complete the recipe and will be sure to come at least somewhat—maybe just a little bit—more prepared during our club's next session.

One of my friends and SEA Club’s vice president, Melany, was kind enough to provide my narrative with some more diverse insight and perspective about the nature of our very first club meeting: "I thought our meeting was a fun way to hang out with each other while learning about how to practice sustainability in the kitchen. I'm glad I learned something new from our meeting."

And thankfully, the chosen recipe received tremendously positive feedback: "10/10... would definitely make them again."

(Courtesy of Emma Linscomb, SEA Club Leader)

Eventually, after baking, each one of us ended up with something delicious to eat, to share, and to enjoy with our family, our friends, and most importantly, with ourselves (as a reward for our extraordinary hard work). And as we reaped the rewards of our cooking session, my classmates and I were not only left with delectable treats to munch on as we prepared ourselves for the mellowing weekend ahead of us, but had already been given the chance to relax within the casualness that one would find in traditional meetings and outings with friends.

So if you're feeling a little more generous than usual today—or even, perhaps a little more overzealous—take up the chance to whip up a fresh batch of these Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies and savor the deliciousness that comes with saving both the appetite and the planet.

(Courtesy of Merry Ding)

So yes, while chocolate is universal, so are hopes, dreams, and the very world that we all currently inhabit. And nothing is as universal, between humanity, as the shared sense of purpose, a common goal, an invaluable desire, and the urge to represent the very best of humanity itself.

Looking back on Friday, and after experiencing all of the passions, talents, and dreams that my classmates and I still possess, I'm undoubtedly unequivocal that many of us within the SEA Club hold the chance to grow up and become exceptional and extraordinary leaders within the worldwide rise for global change.

And although we young adolescents have yet to reach our fullest potential in the present day, at least we can still sit beneath our planet's stars—the very symbols that have sustained all of our collided worlds’ accumulated hopes and dreams for all of history—content with maybe just a bit of chocolate in our hands, as we sit and savor the chip in our universe that we have only just begun to mark.

- Cathy Z.

A special thank you to the people who helped me to edit and proofread this article—y'all are out of this world!

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