Re: eating/cooking in cohousing
From: Fred H. Olson WB0YQM (
Date: Fri, 8 Apr 94 18:10:48 CST
Message author:   robert [at]
Posted by the COHOUSING-L sysop.

> Does anyone have any experience to share on dealing with various food
> allergies and requirements?  Of 20-25 households now either full or
> associate members (associates are in the process of joining) I would guess
> we have at least 8 with some kind of restrictions (vegetarian,
> macro-biotic, no wheat, no gluten, no spices(includes onions, green pepper
> as well), no dairy, no tomatoes, no fish, no eggs).  Right now, with the 8
> resident households, we get pretty creative, and usually have only 2
> versions (w/ or w/o spice) of dishes, and avoid wheat and dairy, but
> sometimes we have 3.  It seems to me that if we go to 'least common
> denominator' we would be down to macrobiotic with no fish and limited
> vegies and spices.  And that making more options is going to require more
> cooking time/ and or people cooking more frequently. one suggestion has
> been to develop a set of menus .  Ideas?  judy
> Judy Baxter, Monterey Cohousing Community, (MoCoCo)
> Twin Cities Area, Minneapolis/St.Paul Minnesota
> e-mail:       baxter [at]
> other mail:   2925 Monterey Ave So,  St. Louis Park, MN 55416

I have dealt with this problem in some form when I lived in a coop
in college where various members had food restrictions, some vegetarian,
some allergies, etc.  There are several models for dealing with it.

One is least common denominator (lcd) - make things that everyone can eat.
One problem with this is that you may wind up with something that satisfies
nobody.  For example, the macrobiotics may feel that they need their fish,
while the vegetarians may eat a lot of dairy and not want the fish.

Another is lcd + extra dishes, like making a meal is okay for everyone, so
that even the most restricted people can have a good meal, then adding
clearly labelled extra dishes that not everyone can eat, like a fish or
chicken dish for the meat eaters.  For a family to do this it would be a
lot of work, but in a larger community, you can have four or five people
cook a meal, and it still ends up being efficient even if they cook some
extra dishes.

Another model is making two versions of the same dish.  If there are only a
couple of people who can't eat sesame, then reserve two or three portions
of a dish that would otherwise get sesame, and make a special sesame-free
version of it.

What you do can also depend on peoples reasons for not eating certain
foods.  Some macrobiotics are willing to eat more a wider diet on
occaision.  While this may not mean serving chocolate cream pie and
hamburgers, perhaps you can have small amounts of tomatoes and spices in a
dish that is prepared with other wholesome ingredients.

Another approach might be instead of trying to satisfy everyone, can you
divide people into two or three groups based on food affiliations such that
each group is more uniform, then have a meal for each group?  For example a
veggi-macro group, a wheat/gluten/dairlyess group.

Some ideas.

robert [at]
Fred H. Olson   fholson [at]     Sysop of COHOUSING-L mailing list
1221 Russell Av N; Minneapolis, MN 55411        voice: (612) 588-9532
WB0YQM  146.64 MHz with DTMF Selcall: 233 ;        FAX by arrangement

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.