The Arizona Desert Lamp

Myth Busting: “More Healthy Options”

Posted in Campus, Politics by Evan Lisull on 27 February 2009

Healthy Eating PyramidListening to the candidates describe the healthy eating scene on campus, you might think that we live in Sbarroland. Scant hours after the Senate candidates forum, though, I received this UANews update in my inbox:

The popular Core restaurant has expanded.

On March 2, the restaurant will open in a brand new location – at The University of Arizona’s Park Student Union – serving an entirely different area of campus. Core takes over the area at the union once occupied by Panda Express.

The UA restaurant, which serves more than 120 fresh ingredients and organic options allowing guests to customize their own salads, opened in September 2007 at the Student Union Memorial Center and quickly became a popular feature.

So now we have not one, but two locations of a restaurant solely dedicated to customizable salads, about as healthy of an option as one can concoct. This comes on the heels of the transformation of the former Cellar Grill into the Cellar Bistro, with offerings such as a quinoa salad or blackened chicken with mango salsa. The new Boost market offers nutritious power-bars for those who are on the run.

These are just the healthy eateries that have sprouted up in the last two years. We still have IQ Fresh, which in addition to its SUMC location also offers smoothies at the PSU and the U-Mart. On Deck Deli continues to offer plenty of healthy sandwich offerings, as do both the Breugger’s Bagels in the PSU and the Eller Deli by McClelland Hall. Redington Cafe‘s buffet has many healthy entrees for the choosing, and the Cactus Grill continues to offer a salad bar. Three Cheeses vends a vegetarian sandwich, as well as caesar salad. Cafe Sonora provides for vegetarian options, taco salads, soy cheese, and daily vegetables. Then there’s the Oy Vey Cafe, with its vegetarian paninis and salads, and the Highland Market, which now offers fresh fruits and vegetables, along with undefined offerings of “health food.”

Even this list isn’t even comprehensive; I refer you instead to a list offered by the Union itself, providing a list of the varied healthy options available on campus. It also doesn’t take into account the many, many healthy options that exist on University Ave. alone, a short walk from campus. It doesn’t take into account the ability to go to the grocery store, via Safe Ride, and buy your own healthy eating materials at a very decent rate.

It is quite possible to eat healthy on campus; moreover, it is probably easier to maintain a healthier diet here on campus than almost any other area in the city. Students who want to eat in a healthier manner have a vast array of established resources at their disposal. Yet this is a personal choice, and not one that needs to be forced even further down the collective gullet by a legislative body. Current complaints over healthy eating would be legitimate if the Union was intentionally stymying efforts to establish healthy options in favor of a Jack-in-the-Box; yet a quick survey of the scene reveals that the opposite trend is in effect.

Now, there is one healthy option that the Lamp could support: allowing Union eateries to serve wine, which, as all good health nuts know, is quite healthy when taken in moderation [Like all things! – MA]. Good luck getting that one past the Union administration.

Image courtesy of Flickr user stevegarfield

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8 Responses

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  1. Laura Donovan said, on 27 February 2009 at 5:14 pm

    Very nicely said.

  2. A. Hill said, on 27 February 2009 at 6:49 pm

    how do you even have a bistro without wine?

  3. A. Hill said, on 27 February 2009 at 7:04 pm

    also, not to get all karl marx on you or anything, but i feel like there’s kind of a class element to this, too, perhaps most noticeable in a transition like the cellar grill becoming the cellar bistro. when i started at UA, i’ll admit there weren’t too many healthy options, but you could still build yourself a good sandwich on whole grain bread or get some steamed rice and vegetables at panda express, or whatever. you just had to know some basic nutritional information. in other words, a “bistro” isn’t the only place you can obtain healthy food, and before there was a bistro in the union there were still plenty of healthy options. so what does transforming the cellar grill into the cellar bistro really do, besides make it posh and, therefore, less accessible to students who aren’t accustomed to or don’t particularly like bourgeois eateries?

    i’d be curious to see if the typical meal costs more there now

  4. A. Hill said, on 27 February 2009 at 7:07 pm

    or to see how healthy it really is compared to the old stuff. school lunches were always supposed to be “wholesome,” too — then i read on the TUSD website one day that there were over 1,000 calories in their breakfast alone.

  5. Connor Mendenhall said, on 28 February 2009 at 7:06 am

    Alyson, you’re right on with the second point–no guarantees that an organic grass-fed cheeseburger is any healthier than a Whopper. But the goal of “more healthy options” on campus is very different from the goal of TUSD breakfasts. The first is, I suspect, an easy and appealing campaign platform more than anything else, though maybe some folks really do want to foist quinoa upon us for our own good. It is, as you note, kind of a class thing, the bistro-fication of the student union partly in response to changing tastes and preferences of consumers, and partly in response to changing tastes and preferences of Union administrators and student government.

    But TUSD breakfast is also very much a class thing: for upwards of something like 40% of the students at most Tucson public schools, free breakfast and lunch at school are the only guaranteed meals they’ll get each day. Thus, the focus is on packing in the calories and meeting government nutritional guidelines. I have my doubts about whether public schools would be the best at providing this service in an open market for education, but I have no doubt that breakfast and lunch at school are a really important part of the day for a lot of kids.

  6. A. Hill said, on 28 February 2009 at 9:34 am

    “But TUSD breakfast is also very much a class thing: for upwards of something like 40% of the students at most Tucson public schools, free breakfast and lunch at school are the only guaranteed meals they’ll get each day. Thus, the focus is on packing in the calories and meeting government nutritional guidelines.”

    40%, really? that’s depressing. i knew that was at least part of the rationale, but damn.

    wish they could work some fruits and veggies and whole grains into that, though. then those 40% of kids would get meals that would do their bodies good and stick with them a little longer too. i don’t know how it is now, but back when i was in TUSD, it was all beige mush, pretty much.

  7. Connor Mendenhall said, on 28 February 2009 at 11:53 am

    Ha. Yeah, as I recall the “chicken patty on a bun” was my favorite dish, mostly because it was so eminently predictable. About as beige as lunch comes, though.

    I looked up those numbers to be sure. Overall free/reduced lunch eligibility in TUSD is about 58 percent (http://is.gd/leGU). The actual proportion of students enrolled in the program varies from as low as about a third at a school like Sam Hughes to 98 percent at Pueblo Gardens (http://is.gd/leG1).

  8. A. Hill said, on 1 March 2009 at 12:15 am

    wow, that’s a real eye opener. thanks.


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