Sweetroots Kitchen brings plant-based treats to the 5Cs

Erica Barry PO ’19, founder of Sweetroots Kitchen, provides homemade treats for the Motley Coffeehouse. (Sandra Sublette • The Student Life)

Erica Barry PO ’19 is an economics major currently learning about entrepreneurship. Fittingly, she founded her own business and 5C club, SweetRoots Kitchen. Currently, there are 40 student bakers who sign up for weekly shifts to bake vegan muffins and deliver them to the Motley Coffeehouse.

Growing up, Barry was passionate about all forms of baking and cooking. In high school, she had a cooking blog called Cannella Vita. As her blog got more and more reviewers, Barry ended up being featured on BuzzFeed, Martha Stewart Online, and Fox News Magazine.

When she came to college, she wanted to continue with recipe development and cooking. But this time, she wanted to challenge herself to focus on plant-based cooking.

She asked herself, “How can I take the skills I already have and apply them to something that’s good for the environment and our health?” she said in an interview with TSL.

After spending a summer testing different recipes for vegan muffins, she finally created a perfect recipe. Barry started thinking of ways she could give back to the community, and from there SweetRoots Kitchen was born.

Barry called SweetRoots “a social enterprise where we sell muffins to the Motley and the proceeds go to buying ingredients and renting spaces to give free workshops to underserved communities in San Diego.”

Currently, her baked goods are only sold at the Motley. Barry originally chose to cater toward the Motley because the cafe’s message of empowerment aligns with that of SweetRoots.

However, Barry is looking to expand, and has already met with a couple of other on-campus cafes. “The more people who can try [SweetRoots products], the better,” Barry said.

She believes that there’s a misconception that a plant-based diet is expensive, and she wants to show people that adding more plant-based foods to one’s diet can be fun, exciting, and not necessarily costly.

Through her workshops, Barry’s goal is to teach youth where food comes from. “It’s a really important thing that many people lose touch with these days,” she said.

Barry is planning on expanding her workshops to the greater Claremont area, so that more 5C club members can join. She wants to get as many people involved as possible because she wants to spread the message that a plant-based diet does not have to be restrictive.

Rather, she believes it can be additive, or as simple as replacing an ingredient containing animal products with one that does not.

Abby Taylor SC ’21, one of the club’s members, describes herself as an avid baker. She found out about SweetRoots Kitchen through a survey that Barry posted on Facebook.

Taylor loves baking at home, and thinks of it as a stress-coping mechanism. “I figured that this would be a really good way to keep doing that at school,” she said.

Barry agreed with Taylor and said that this was something she has talked about with her fellow bakers. While it gets busy handling college and a business, Barry’s love for baking serves as an outlet for stress.

SweetRoots Kitchen club members often meet to discuss new recipes. They are planning to create fall and holiday inspired recipes, such as pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. “I like to try and get everybody involved in the creative process,” Barry said.

As a baker, entrepreneur, and 5C student working to promote the SweetRoots philosophy, Barry can’t wait to create a community to educate and feed people delicious, plant-based treats.

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