When Lieza Dagher SM ’04, MCP ’04 was 21, she lived in Italy across the street from a two-story market where she could purchase fresh, local food directly from farmers.
Years later, she realized it was not as easy to find the same quality of food.
“I wanted to have the most nutrient-dense and flavorful food for my family. I saw that this was possible as a young woman living abroad.” Dagher, the mother of two young children, says. “As a mom, I source as much as I can from my community farmers and food artisans.”
Dagher’s experience in Italy was one spark in a lifelong passion for food, which she now pursues professionally as the Director of the Kitchen at the Boston Public Market, the education arm of the Boston Public Market that offers year-round programming focused on the intersection between food and agriculture.
“The Kitchen is a platform that teaches people about the benefits of sourcing from the local food system,” she says. “There are health benefits to your body, economic and cultural benefits for your community, and of course the benefits to the health of the planet.”
The Kitchen is located within the Boston Public Market, an indoor, year-round marketplace adjacent to Boston’s Faneuil Hall that houses about 40 local farmers, fishers, and food entrepreneurs who provide New England-sourced groceries and agricultural products. The Kitchen partners with these businesses and other mission-similar organizations to create hands-on cooking classes, lectures, and events that help to connect visitors back to the land.
“At the Kitchen you can learn about where your food is sourced, experiment with the different varieties of products yielded right here in Massachusetts, and meet the people behind these delicious ingredients,” Dagher says. “We’re showcasing the sea-change that is happening in New England’s vibrant local food system and helping to restore the craft of cooking in our communities.”
The Kitchen hosts free and ticketed hands-on classes and events, multiple times per week, that cover topics like seasonal cooking, menu planning on a budget, local wine and spirits tastings, and a variety of family and children’s cooking classes.
Dagher spoke to Slice of MIT at the 2016 HUBweek festival, where she was part of the Kitchen-hosted session, “Making Dinner Your Family’s Favorite Time Together.” Dagher was one of more than 40 MIT alumni who presented at the festival.
“MIT helped me to consider all the forces at play in shaping a community,” Dagher, an alumna of MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning, says. “In my work to help transform our Massachusetts food system, and increase wellness in our local communities, I use the lessons I learned at MIT every day.”