Fruit for thought


By Emma Goodwin

The year was 2013. The day was Halloween. The place was the PAR dining hall. I was a baby freshman whose body was still working on stomaching the new grub.

Though I saw some surprising things that Halloween, nothing shocked me more than finding fresh fruit in the dining hall for the first time since I’d moved in. If you scroll through my Instagram page, you can still find pictures of it. I was just that surprised.

But then, my mind wandered. Was this a Halloween trick? If I bit into the strawberries on my plate, would I find eyeballs inside? Worms? Would they ooze blood?

The PAR dining hall provides frozen fruit every day, so I had spent months void of fresh fruit. I was skeptical but too excited to restrain myself from grabbing a bowl of strawberries, pineapple, and even honeydew, which I hate. I was pleasantly surprised at the real-fresh-fruit-deliciousness I was blessed with.

During these special meals throughout the year — for Halloween, an alternative Thanksgiving and Christmas, Black History Month and even Creole Mardi Gras — holiday-themed food and fresh fruit are always provided.

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The fruits always tend to go quickly (except for the melon — nobody likes melon), but switching back to frozen fruit afterwards is always a tough transition. I know that Ikenberry dining hall has honeydew, cantaloupe and some canned fruits every day. 

Each dining hall also has a variety of fresh fruits, like apples, oranges, sometimes kiwis, plums and pears. Often times, fresh fruit is served at breakfast, which I often don’t have time to get from the dining hall.

But even through mealy and bruised apples, pears, and kiwis, I have remained hopeful that one day I will bite into one that actually tastes good — one that might be able to make me forget about the normal lack of strawberries and such.

However, this has never happened, and with the school year almost over, I am starting to become very skeptical. So yes, fresh, skinned fruit does, sparingly, exist throughout the different campus dining halls. But it isn’t enough, and it’s not always appealing to eat either.

I don’t plan my dining hall meal times and places on where I can find fresh fruit. I shouldn’t have to.

I plan them on how much time I have between classes and which hall I’m closest to. As students, we’re always on the go. We want to be able to get certain health benefits from our food, but still have it look visually appealing and taste good in the end. 

On a college campus, running from class to class, time also has to be taken into consideration. If all of these needs aren’t met, then the dining hall’s more unhealthy options seem to be right in front of you.

Considering the speed and convenience, most of us are not new to choosing unhealthy options, leaving many of us without the nutrients we need. The fact that we have strange looking peaches and blueberries that taste like frozen, powdery cardboard in front of us doesn’t make us any more likely to choose healthy options. 

Even if these particular offered fruits pass as healthy, they hardly pass as edible.

This is not a debate about which fruit medium carries more nutrients. There is evidence that frozen fruits tend to be picked in their prime. The freezing process prevents them from deteriorating and losing a lot of their key nutrients, unlike fresh fruits, which have shorter life spans. 

The problem is, to me, frozen fruits taste significantly worse than fresh fruit (at least they do at PAR), and I’ve seen many students choose not to eat them.

If students aren’t eating them, any nutritional value these frozen fruits have lose their potential the moment we lay eyes on them. This makes it a lot harder than it should be to eat at least two cups of fruit a day (the USDA’s recommended amount for people nineteen and up.) 

There is nothing appetizing to me about peaches that have passed the orange section of the color spectrum and have gone straight to brown, or raspberries that have been bathing in their own sugary filth all day. 

Not to mention how disgusting mushy strawberries are and how painful it is biting into one that is more frozen than you anticipated.

On days where fresh fruit is served, I’ve seen people eat heaps, like they’re making up for the lost time since it was available. Because people want to eat it. The demand is there; we’re just lacking in supply.

Hopefully, the dining hall will learn how to put the $6,133 my meal plan costs toward more fresh fruit (emphasis on fresh) — or at least put some money into improving the appearance of the frozen substitutes.

Emma is a freshman in LAS. She can be reached at [email protected].