Wednesday, April 16, 2008

My Money's Worth

Today I went to the cafeteria at the college where I am currently a student and I also work. This is always an interesting experience, but today, the simple act of getting my lunch upset two people working there.
It is always very difficult to filter through the fast food (at this particular cafeteria we have Pizza Hut, Quizno's and Chick-Fil-A) and the other junk (fried Chinese food bowls and "the grill" and the fried chicken usually offered at the home-cooking station) and manage to find something healthy.
The only options for salad dressings are either aspartame and chemical filled low-fat dressings, or packaged creamy dressings. There are no oils or vinegars provided. We have no soup - they took that away - I think it was too healthy. The yogurts are the predictable aspartame flavoured low-fat, the fruit is overpriced, and vegetables do not exist without ham-hocks and floating grease in them.
So it's quite difficult for a newly spawned healthy eater to find something to eat. I decided today, despite the lack of a whole-wheat tortilla option, to get a burrito. I thought I'd just have it with black beans, a little rice, and some fixins. Well the guy making the burrito spooned out what must have been almost an entire can of beans onto the tortilla. I told him to please take some of them off. His reaction was shocked. Then I asked for rice, "just a little bit," and he ladled it on thick yet again. I asked him, again, to take at least half of it away. He was now completely shocked and said, quizzically "but you won't get your money's worth!" I tried to explain to him that I appreciated his concern for my pocketbook, but I was just looking to have lunch, not to eat three meals at once. I did get my sized-down burrito, and it was the perfect amount of food, not the giant behemoths they usually make that I end up mostly throwing away. The guy making it also said, "well, if more people thought like you, we'd end up saving a lot of money." I think I could write a whole blog on that, about the economics of waste in the food industry and how we can all help change that by demanding realistic portions of real food, instead of monstrous piles of cheap garbage on an over-sized plate.
Then I decided to buy one of those Vitamin Waters. I know they aren't particularly healthy, but I needed something with some taste, and that was my best option there. I got to the checkout and the lady rang up my water at $2.99. I asked her if that was correct. She said "yes" and I asked her to cancel it because that was ridiculous for a bottle of flavoured water. She did it, but snorted and looked at me as if I were crazy.
So my dining experience this morning made me feel as if I am a creature from another planet, simply because I wanted something healthy to eat in a reasonable portion accompanied by a not-soda.

Friday, April 11, 2008

I Eat Meat

I just read in an article in our school newspaper that it takes 700 calories of animal feed to produce 100 calories worth of beef. I hate when I have to read things like that, you know, things that make me think.
It started me thinking about my meat consumption. I love meat. I love bacon, although I haven't indulged in it in a while, and I especially love a really good, juicy, bloody steak. You just can't beat it, but I've long felt guilty about eating meat. Most of my guilt stemmed from the animal cruelty aspect, and I do freely admit to being a "not tested on animals" cosmetic buying meat eating hypocrite. I have struggled with trying to rectify this hypocrisy and perhaps justify what I'm doing, but logically I can't.
Now the onslaught against we well meaning, but ultimately weak meat lovers has taken a new direction; now not only are we cruel, heartless flesh eaters, but we are also ruining the environment and causing famine in Africa. That's a lot to feel guilty about (It doesn't help that I read this article while eating a chicken burrito).
What's a meat lover to do? For several Lenten periods, I have successfully given up meat and one year, I gave it up for about nine months, but I always go back to eating it. I have a friend who was a voracious meat eater, but I believe he has given it up for about two years now, so perhaps it is possible.
This article also said that by giving up meat, people can reduce environmental footprint by more than if they stopped driving altogether.
I discovered this week that I really like tofu, and I've finally figured out how to cook it so it's edible, so perhaps I can start to reduce my meat consumption and start making more vegetarian choices. I don't think I can go cold turkey, (pun fully intended) but perhaps I can start to change in the right direction and practice another way of living a more conscientious life.