Hello again from West TX!
I have been really excited to read the comments and feedback from everyone so far! I had never thought about my Food-o-meter ratings compared to VEG and some of the other writers from around the world. Most of those meals have included a bit of all the “food groups.” I tend to eat very “light” lunches consisting of fruits and veggies and perhaps a grain. I rarely eat a protein with lunch, because I incorporate them into breakfasts and/or dinners.
In an American cafeteria setting, most of the proteins are highly processed, or sometimes greasy or high in sodium. I try to pick the freshest thing available to me. On Monday, outside of the salad station at that particular dining hall, there was pizza, a grill (mostly fatty things like cheese steaks or burgers), stir-fried options prepared in a wok (but nothing looked very fresh), and a Tex-Mex station that had tacos, burritos, and huge “fiesta” bowls filled with high fat options.
Given my choices, I decided on fresh cut fruit. I was nice and cool with our hot weather and the freshest option available at the time. I do have a bad habit of sipping on sodas sometimes, and I don’t think in our public school system that children can choose them as an option anymore. But, it was so hot that day that nice, cool water was swapped out after the picture. (I also thought it was neat to find out that it isn't available worldwide!) The multi-grain chips/crisps are something brand new, and I looked at how low in fat and calories they were. They were really lightly dusted with the flavor, but I didn't check the carbs. I had a protein (beef) that night with dinner, because I can better control its freshness and preparation at home. Also, I couldn't eat a brownie that big in one sitting, but quartering it after diner made a little three-bite treat, and I haven’t had a bite of what was left over yet. As for Tuesday’s smoothie, I had made a vegetable scramble (eggs and veggies) that morning with some bread on the side, so having a bit of fruit and yogurt to carry me through until I went home to make a healthy dinner seemed OK at the time.
Our First Lady has been working to improve school lunches and encouraging kids to get active. Healthy choices are often sacrificed for the sake of convenience here. We also suffer from what Americans call “portion distortion.” I’m not sure other areas in the world have as much trouble with that one. Some mayors and governors in the US are even trying to get food laws passed regarding portions, warning labels for fast food, etc. I try to do the best I can on-campus, and really focus on health in what I make for myself, but kids don’t get to make those kinds of decisions, so I’m glad that many adults are campaigning for healthier options to be available to them.
I hope adding a bit of context helps. I really admire VEG for not only raising awareness about areas where children don’t have food at all, but also raising awareness of where the quality of and choices for food need to be improved.
Our prices are really high, but people that purchase a campus dining plan save a lot (20%-50%). I’m not sure that it’s worth the investment for me, because usually I only eat on campus 1 to 2 times per week, which leads me to an introduction!
Now, after maybe adding some context to American options, without me rambling anymore, let me introduce Joy, a fellow master’s degree student who is helping me to team blog this week. There aren't many grad students who eat on campus every day, so a group of us is contributing to the posts! Enjoy, y’all!