The complexities of choosing a meal

The complexities of choosing a meal

Katherine Weltzien, News Editor

   Can food be nutritious, sustainable, and cost-effective? “I certainly think it’s doable … I think one of the barriers might be thinking that it’s not doable,” said Dietitian Erica Eilenburg. “I think there might be some sacrifices made, not everyone is in the boat where they can go to Whole Foods and buy all their food from there and buy whatever they want.”

    This fall, along with the new building, Urban acquired a new food service. Fare Resources has been endeavoring to balance nutrition, sustainability, and affordability within the school lunch program. “I think if you ultimately sit down and you eat food that’s grown well you’re going to taste a difference. And you’re going to want to pay more money for it because it tastes so much better,” said Rachel Sillcocks, head chef of Fare’s Urban kitchen.

   When asked about the expense of the new food, Ben Lee (’17) said, “I am definitely willing to pay a premium for food that is sustainable and local, and especially so for high-quality produce and meats.”

    Skyler Baker (’18) felt differently, “I’m not willing to pay more than I think is reasonable. For example, I think that Fare Resources’ $9 salads are … charging us a ridiculous amount, to the point where it’s not even accessible to get healthy food.”

    Though the conflict between cost and quality plays out on a micro scale at Urban,the lack of affordable, nutritious food is also a huge national issue. “42.2 million Americans lived in food insecure households, including 29.1 million adults and 13.1 million children,” according to a factsheet published by Feeding America. The branding used by many food companies only adds to the complexity of choosing a meal. For example, Pepsi is currently facing a lawsuit from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CPSI) due to the advertising of their Naked Juices.

   “PepsiCo’s ‘the goodness inside’ ingredient key misrepresents that drinking Naked products is akin to consuming, whole, the fruits and vegetables pictured on the label, when it is not, and that the vitamins in Naked products come from its fruits and vegetables when, in fact, many are added by the manufacturer,” reads the lawsuit, as filed by the CPSI. The combination of misleading branding and societal influences make healthy eating seem far more complicated, and expensive, than it needs to be.

    “Now everyone’s not eating this because this one article came out that said it’s not recommended … without people really knowing the truth, or the research, or what recommendations would be from a dietitian. It’s more of a societal and cultural influence, and that’s what people follow,” said Eilenburg.

   To make an affordable, balanced diet easier, Eilenburg said to “buy a bunch of carrots on Sunday when you go to the grocery store … and put them in snack bags so you have them for the whole week.” She suggested doing the same for nuts, “or something that you can portion out and take with you.” She emphasized that, “at its simplest, eating nutritious food is just a matter of building meals around whole foods in the basic food groups.”

  Jade Barnblatt (’18) said, “I also focus on having a balanced meal, like having carbs, having vegetables, having protein, and sugar, but not that much. I just really try to have a balance.”

  Regarding the future of America’s food culture, Wyatt Sandberg, head chef at Gus’s Community Market, said, “We’re already seeing positive changes occurring with the resurgence in small farming. Food policy is changing, the amount of access to food education is incredible, and even school lunch programs all across the nation are being updated and improved. I believe we need to do as much as possible to support these changes to bring our food system back to a balance.”