It’s safe to say that in the past few months as a freshman at Santa Clara University, I have learned a lot about myself. “A lot”, is actually an understatement. I am originally from Chicago, and up until last September I had never been away from home completely on my own. Sure, I had gone to three years of camp in the woods of Wisconsin as a kid and flown alone to visit my uncle in New York- but they all shared one thing in common, a crutch. The crutch being I had a safety net: my friends, family, and home. However, I wiped away the safety net that had been forming for the past few years and came by myself out to sunny Santa Clara, California. I started from scratch.
Scratch, meaning my previous life had essentially been wiped away.
No one here knew me. I guess that was the whole point. However, in the past nine months I have begun the journey of finding myself and finding out who I truly am. These years are the “best years of our lives”, according anyone who is newly college graduated and has been recently forced into the “real world”. These “best years”, so to speak, are not only the best but they are the most important. Upon finding yourself, you figure out your habits and your habits concrete. It is safe to say you begin forming yourself into the person you’ll be for the rest of your life. The entirety of my research in CTW 2 alluded to this idea of making the habits you will have for the rest of your life. By starting your life from scratch, like me, college is a place to learn new habits and routines that will effect you for the rest of your life. I know that it might seem a little crazy at first; of course college kids will not be making Ramen noodles at 3 am for dinner for the rest of their lives.
However, how and what they eat, gets the wheels in your brain turning. The wheels register what types of food you like, and you quickly learn the most convenient food that there is to make. Except, college does not really seem like the best place to be concreting your food habits. Our cafeteria at Santa Clara University lacks desperately in food and meals that I would consider healthy. You would think that since everyone had to eat at the cafeteria and that college is prime time to learn how to eat healthy, Santa Clara would aid us in that effort.
Healthy, when I think of it, meaning colorful vegetables, an abundance of fresh fruit, lean grilled chicken, brown rice, organic peanut butter.
Not only was there a lack of healthy meals but there was a complete lack of variety. I saw myself, and many other students, fall into the quick pattern of only eating at the cafeteria but then subsequently only eating unhealthy food. Mainly because of convenience.
Meaning, I could get a full meal prepared for me in under 10 minutes and it would only take a 200 foot walk.
Not only learn to cook, but learn how to grow our own food as well. Cornell University has been farming for over 10 years and provides produce for the cafeteria as well as the students in local markets (“Dilmun Hill…”). This is the kind of fantastic trend that Santa Clara needs to follow. I’m not saying to buy an entire farm and reinvent a new cafeteria method, but some level of step in that direction. Our brain is still developing at ages 18-22, so why not learn something great that could make us become healthier, live longer, and help others to do so as well.
Not only did I learn how healthier and satisfactory it is to eat healthier and even grow your foods, but also learned how much of an impact an unhealthy diet can have on the environment.
The environment, a topic that has raised much concern in recent years due to our lack of appreciation and overall care.
From my research in the first essay that I did in CTW 2, I learned that startling statistic that a non-vegetarian diet consumed 2.9 times more water, 2.5 times more primary energy, 13 times more fertilizer, and 1.4 times more pesticide than a vegetarian diet (University of Michigan Undergraduate Research Journal). If the environment is something that we all worry about so much, why are we not radically changing the way we live our lives starting with how and what we eat. Not to mention the countless amounts of animal lives we would save. The different ways that I saw and read about animals being killed for consumption were truly shocking- why is this something that we, as a race, are okay with? Why do we let it happen? I digress.
Even though I have only written two essays on becoming a vegetarian in college and growing your own food in college, I have become very aware of the things around me- especially food. I completely plan to make my own food from scratch next year, like my mother does back home, and to have her teach me this summer how to do so.
Free-range, grilled chicken. Grilled zucchini and asparagus. Side of brown rice. I can’t wait.
The thing that shocks me about all the data I have gathered and all the ideas floating around in my head about college life, is why we don’t as a society put more importance on healthy living, for ourselves and the environment. If we want to make a change, college kids are where we need to start. These are the people that will be running the world in 10-20 years, and there is not way, at this rate, that anything will be changed. Santa Clara needs to overhaul their food system, and start getting people pointed in the right direction. Students need to be more aware, even if it is just something as measly as a calorie count per meal, of what they are putting in their body. If someone is eating healthy meals from Santa Clara for two years, it is safe to hope that they would continue on the trend. Or at least have the knowledge. Frankly, for $60,000 a year, a choice of healthy meals and the knowledge of how and what to cook does not seem like that is too much to ask.
“Dilmun Hill Student Farm.” Dilmun Hill Student Farm. Cornell University. Web. 09 June 2014.
Kraftson, Stephanie, Jana Pohorelsky, and Alex Myong. “University of Michigan Undergraduate Research Journal.” University of Michigan Undergraduate Research Journal. University of Michigan. Web. 11 June 2014.
“Santa Clara University | Cafe Bon Appetit.” Santa Clara University. Bon Appétit Management Company. Web. 11 June 2014.