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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: Stop being lazy and eat right

The majority of people at the UA and the overwhelming majority of underclassmen eat out for almost all of their meals. Yes, there are a few healthy options in the dining hall at both the Student Union Memorial Center and the Park Student Union, but let’s be honest, they are a small minority and straight-up fast food like Burger King, Papa John’s, Panda Express make up, on average, probably two meals a day for the average UA student.

I’m sure the university sees a pretty penny from this arrangement. Doubtlessly, there is some reason they have chosen it over the traditional all-you-can-eat cafeteria-style setup many schools use, even the large ones, but instilling healthy lifestyles in their students and promoting good health during their stay at the UA is likely not the reason.

Students should adjust to not eating out for most of their meals. As an adult, it is imperative to learn to cook most of one’s own meals. Fast food meals and even restaurant meals almost always mean larger portions, more calories and more spending per meal than eating in.

Yes, cooking takes time, but even the least-healthy, quickest home-cooked “meals” are probably healthier and certainly much cheaper than their fast food alternatives—and much faster, even.

A box of off-brand macaroni and cheese from Safeway, along with the butter and milk for which the recipe calls, cost a little over a dollar, cooks in half the time it takes to get to McDonald’s, is less disgusting and will feed a small family. That’s not exactly health food, but it’s definitely less toxic and several times less expensive than buying everyone a couple of items from the dollar menu.

Potatoes plus salt plus butter makes mashed potatoes and all of those ingredients are dirt cheap. Rice, beans, oatmeal, apples, bananas, eggs, bread; the list goes on. Cereal doesn’t even need to be cooked and is much cheaper and usually healthier than nine out of 10 options in the food court.

The best thing the UA could do for its students’ short and long-term health would be to add a more substantial, less price-gouging grocery option in at least one of the student unions.

This could be accomplished simply by expanding Highland Market, Park Avenue Market and U-Mart’s selections and making their prices a bit more reasonable.

This would likely pay for itself as students would no longer feel the need to go to Safeway for their several-times-lower prices.

Healthier graduates would learn the essential lesson that cooking healthy meals at home saves both money in the short-term, and one’s health in the long-term. I’m sure they don’t really need to charge $2 for a Yoplait yogurt when Safeway sells them for 50 cents.

That might seem an audacious prediction, but the differences in life outcomes between a student who leaves school with a Burger King addiction and one who leaves having learned how much better it feels to stock up on fresh food to cook is surely quite significant in terms of health and happiness.

Investing in an attractive grocery alternative on campus is the right thing to do morally, and likely financially, for the UA. Students would take advantage of the myriad of benefits of outgrowing the wasteful, toxic fast-food lifestyle.

Follow Martin Forstrom on Twitter.

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