Fruits and vegetables: rare animals on college campuses?

By: Branwyn Wilkinson

Opinion Contributor

When I arrived on campus, I knew not to expect to find a giant squid in the swimming pool or to see a herd of zebra galloping across the quad. That would be crazy. But I did expect to be able to find fresh fruits and vegetables at the dining places on campus. So far, though, these healthy options have proven to be almost as unlikely as that squid or zebra.

Don’t get me wrong, we have great dining options here on campus, and I love the variety. There are always four or five choices in the dining hall. If you don’t like any of those, there’s Iggy’s for dinner or Subway or 2mato for lunch. At Canisius, we even get a choice of coffee places! Out of all six of these dining places, only the dining hall allows you to grab a piece of fruit or a salad as part of your meal block.

At Iggy’s, Subway, and 2mato, getting a piece of fruit with the rest of your meal puts you over the meal block limit. You have to use Griff Bucks to make up the difference.  That’s okay, but many students would rather save their Griff Bucks to pay for a coffee between classes at the Science Center, or during that late night Tim Hortons run.

To say that fruits and vegetables should be included in every meal block is rather reminiscent of a high school cafeteria meal, but if we’re supposed to be eating five servings a day, shouldn’t they be included? Fruits and vegetables should not be forced upon students, as they often are in high school, because that creates food waste. Some students just won’t eat them. But other students, like myself, my roommate, and others I’ve talked to, miss the abundance of fruits and vegetables they have at home. Students like us shouldn’t have to use more of our meal plans to get the food that makes us happy, and keeps us healthy.

Speaking of happy, did you know that the type of food you eat can have a big impact on your energy level and mood? Studies show that eating a balanced diet will give you energy to get through long days. We all know that college days last longer than most, and are filled with classes, homework, hanging out with friends, and other commitments. It’s tempting to rely on caffeine and sugar to make it through such hectic schedules, but that’s not the smartest option. Unfortunately, though, especially with the dining options available on college campuses, it’s often the easiest.

According to NPR and other sources, this sort of diet can become a vicious cycle. When we’re tired and stressed after staying up all night to finish that paper, we turn to caffeine and sugar to help us get through the day. These foods have long been associated with energy “crashes.” The crashes then lead us to consume more caffeine and sugar, which can end up keeping us awake at night. Thus the next day, the cycle begins all over again.

This might be a manageable way to live, but I somehow doubt that mood and energy swings are how most people want to live.

According to the Rocky Mountain Collegian, eating like this in college can actually lead to health problems that won’t show up until later in life. It can also establish bad eating habits that will be hard to break after our four years here.

Which is why we need better available healthy options on campus, including more choices of fruits and vegetables. Salad and apples are great and all, but honestly I’ve eaten more salad in my first three weeks here than I had all summer. I’ve only seen cooked vegetables as an option in the dining hall twice so far. At Iggy’s, the healthy options are few and far between, and usually require one to be an adventurous eater. I’m not always in the mood for eggplant and mushrooms. Sometimes I just want good old fashioned green beans, or peas and carrots like I have at home.

My roommate and I have ended up stocking our fridge with the healthy food we are used to at home. While others snack on chips and ramen, our snack food is grapes, or carrots and hummus. But it’s expensive snack food, and the cost comes out of our own budgets. Considering that we’re already paying to eat on campus, ensuring healthy dining options should be Canisius’ responsibility, not any individual students’.

It’s time to see better fruit and vegetable options at the dining places on campus. Not every student would take advantage of these options, but they should be available for every student.

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