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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Let’s go local: Campus lacks food diversity

    Mexican, Chinese, Italian, French. If you’re making this list, you’re either in a Geography 101 course, you’re plotting a round-the-world vacation or you’re trying to think of different types of “ethnic” food we have here on campus. Not the largest list, is it? While the masses don’t seem to be starving, the fact remains that the pickings out there are still pretty slim.

    So here’s a question: When you want to eat healthy on campus, where do you go? Let me guess: Core. And therein lies the problem. Core is immediately everyone’s first and only thought.

    And the trouble doesn’t stop there.

    If you want to get authentically Asian food without consuming the sodium-filled excesses of Panda Express, you’re forced to take your business off campus. The Student Union Memorial Center features a menagerie of chain restaurants: Papa John’s, Burger King and Chick-fil-A come to mind. Talk about a parent’s nightmare when it comes to trying to keep their kids from gaining a quick 15 pounds at the start of every year. Or, for that matter, a nightmare for anyone who wants a change of pace from your typical fast-food experience.

    College Prowler, which rates the UA’s on-campus dining as a “B ,” clearly isn’t that concerned with the lack of variety.
    Some of us, however, beg to differ.

    Our “original” restaurants don’t fare much better than the chains. I recently returned from a year of study abroad and was surprised to find Café Sonora had disappeared … only to be immediately replaced by another Mexican-themed restaurant, “Sabor.” Not to mention the Indian restaurant that came and went during my time away as well. While there’s nothing wrong with more Mexican food, it just seemed like a waste of time and money to replace an existing restaurant with one of the same type.

    Tuition continues to go up every year, and it’s these kinds of expenses that don’t have any direct benefit for students. Keeping the old Café Sonora and not completely remodeling the inside with a new name and face would have been fine, and the money needed for that operation could have been spent on, say, bringing in some local talent.

    Tucson’s array of quality restaurants is one of its most underrated aspects as a city, and it certainly wouldn’t hurt for the UA to take a hint or fifteen. I don’t want to know the cost of that scoreboard they’re putting up in the football stadium, but I’d feel comfortable wagering that a few small grants for extensions of popular Tucson restaurants to venture on campus would still cost less.

    Let’s be honest: Who wouldn’t love having a Lindy’s right on campus? The UA could cater to the healthy-dining crowd by adding a low-fat Greek or vegan food venue on campus. The options are essentially endless. It’s a well-known fact that Tucson’s street food scene is one of the better ones out there. Taco stands are regularly a huge surprise to my own taste buds, and I can’t imagine it’d be that big of a stretch to give an owner some cash to throw one up near the UA Mall on a weekly basis.

    Look, it’s not that we can’t be happy with Cactus Grill five days a week, but there’s something to be said for accommodating the tastes of an ever-growing student body with an equally large diversity of sophisticated dining preferences. It’s not like the UA doesn’t have the money; if they claim they’re going broke due to budget cuts, someone might want to tell them that renovating Coronado Residence Hall won’t exactly help.

    In the meantime, it’s not too much to ask that when we go searching for good food, we’re not forced to leave campus because of a lack of decent options.

    — Joe Dusbabek is a senior studying French and linguistics. He can be reached at arts@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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