Healthy food options hard to find

by Ana Ceballos

MCT Campus

As freshmen initiate their first years of total freedom and bliss, they ponder about the legend of the “freshman 15.”

According to Ashley Medina, a kinesiology sophomore, life in the resident halls at San Diego State tends to lead students into an unhealthy diet and inevitably an unhealthy lifestyle.

“Even though it is nice to live close to campus. The 10-minute walk to campus does not compensate the thousands of calories consumed daily at the diner or the food market,” Medina said.

When walking inside East Commons, the first impression after the massive crowd and huge lines is the intoxicating smell of fried food. Although there is always an option hiding in the corner of the menu for the minority of students who are vegetarians, vegans or just trying to be healthy, most items are based on a high-carbohydrate and high-sugar diet.

An alternative dining option, the thursday farmers market, allows students to lean toward different types of food not normally found on campus. The farmers market, which started Fall 2009, was meant to be a special event for Earth Day rather than a weekly occurrence on campus, according to Brian Wynne, the general manager of concessions for SDSU Dining Services.

“Students voted with their dollars,” Wynne said. “Organic was what we were aiming for at first, but the organic stalls were the first to go when they didn’t make enough profit to keep their business here on campus.”

When considering the limited options vegetarians and vegans have on campus, they are often tempted to give into the unhealthier options to avoid hunger, Bernice Rodriguez, a member of e3, the on-campus organization that ignited the farmer’s market movement, said.

“You don’t get too many options when you are a vegetarian,” Rodriguez said. “You could say that the small percentage of vegetarians are discriminated by the fast food society, which is why we began the farmers market, to have a healthier option.”
The vast fast food options can also be problematic for vegetarians.

“When I am home I usually cook vegetarian meals,” Sofiane Akoubi, an employee of Baba Foods, a Greek food kiosk in the farmers market, said. “But when you go out you are attracted to the food around the area, which is usually only fast food.”

According to Akoubi, though the fast food prices may be affordable, the huge portions are more than any one person needs.

“Why not buy less for less?” Akoubi asked. “I don’t need five burgers for $4, I just need one burger for possibly $1.”

When comparing the fast food business with the meal plan the deal is the same: Eat more for what is available to spend, and usually the food offered is not the healthiest.

“I was living in Cuic,” Alex Howe, another employee of Baba Foods, said. “I had the fat-kid meal plan. You had to spend all the money in your plan at the end of the day and all there was to eat was fatty foods.”

According to Howe, who also struggled with the “freshman 15” his first year of college because of the unhealthy meal plans, the healthier options on campus such as the farmers market and Peabody’s are not included in the meal plan. Instead you get Starbucks and Panda Express as an option.

“Vegetarians may become extinct here at SDSU,” Akoubi said. “That is if the food services on campus maintain zero options for vegetarians and vegans, unless a peanut butter and jelly sandwich counts as an option.”