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Taylor’s slice of nice: 10/5/2011

Taylor’s slice of nice: 10/5/2011

 

Taylor’s Slice of Nice is a semester-long column that highlights good things happening around the globe and takes a look at how we can implement them locally.

 

What they’re cooking up:

 

As college students, we are often forced to trade health for convenience. When was the last time you forgot to toss a snack in your backpack and ended up selecting something sugary or salty in a brightly-colored plastic package out of a campus vending machine? We are what we eat, but maybe we’d be something healthier if we took a cue from high schools across the country and swapped out our vending machines’ trans-fat-laden snacks for healthier alternatives.

 

According to the New York Times, 14 New York City high schools are testing vending machines that offer healthy alternatives right alongside the Doritos and Cheez-Its. Students can choose from Clif bars, hummus and pita chips, peach smoothies, carrots and ranch dressing and more.

My own high school (shout out to Grafton High School! Go Blackhawks!) did something similar, replacing all soda with Vitamin Water and fruit juice and replacing fried potato chips with their “Baked” counterparts.

These high schools are tapping into an obvious truth: students are only going to select health foods if they’re first given the option. Here at Eau Claire, our vending machines offer us either the option to eat junk or go hungry.

 

How it can be homemade:

 

We can be proud that our campus already contains a health food convenience store (the Green Bean in Davies! Check it out!). Kiosks around campus sell salads and fruit alongside cookies and bagels, and even the campus coffee shop sells healthy soups alongside chocolate muffins and pastries. We also live in a town where farmers’ markets are growing increasingly popular and there’s an entire grocery store — called Just Local Food, located on the corner of Farwell St. and State St. — devoted entirely to, yes, just local food. All of these truly inspiring advancements leave only two areas for improvement: cafeteria food and vending machines.

 

I’d be delighted to encounter a vending machine like the ones described in the Times article, full of fresh, crisp, organic options. I believe, if priced similar to the junk food options next door, any college kid muddling through a cheese-and-garlic hangover from the prior night’s Topperstix binge would crave something refreshing and energizing. As I said before, to eat healthily, we must first be given the option to do so.

The cafeteria also provides plenty of healthy options — I am not denying that. Instead, I think we can improve upon the ingredients used in all of the options available in the cafeteria. It would be incredibly beneficial to not only our health but also to the environment and the local economy if the majority of foods consumed at the campus cafeterias were obtained from local sources: local dairy farms for cheese and milk, vegetables and fruits grown locally and chicken and beef raised locally on a pasture, not a
factory farm.

These changes would benefit our health by not filling us with chemicals from overly-processed foods, benefit the environment by reducing the amount of gas spent transporting the food from distant locations and benefit the economy by putting the tuition dollars we give to Sodexo’s heavily processed foods into the pockets of local farmers.

I’m really proud of the amount of health-conscious decisions this university has made. If we continue in this direction, our school could be the benchmark to which the rest of the UW System aspires.

 

Taylor Kuether is a junior print journalism major and Editorial Editor at The Spectator.

 

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