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Nutrition recognition

Marie Claire O'Donnell | Wednesday, February 10, 2010

There is an egregious travesty happening every day, every minute in our little Notre Dame Bubble. In our dining halls. In our dorm rooms. In our on- and off-campus eateries. It is overlooked and under-advocated. That’s right, I’m talking about the merciless slaughter and consumption of alarming amounts of vegetables.

But the tragedy is not just the overconsumption and thoughtless killing. These vegetables are oppressed and beleaguered their whole vitamin-enriched lives.

Think about it. Veggies are given a bad rap. Kids turn up their noses at them, choosing instead to munch on brightly colored fruits like apples or peaches, or deliciously cheesy snacks like Cheez-Its. Vegetables are associated with mashed-up baby foods.

From then on, children are turned off by the mere mention of peas, broccoli or carrots. The whole food group is then relegated to the position of punishment for children, a food that must be eaten, pushed around on a plate or slyly shoved under chair cushions before a scrumptious, gooey chocolate chip cookie can be eaten.

By adolescence and young adulthood, the stigma surrounding vegetables lessens, but it is replaced with another problem: consumption at alarming rates. Carrots are ruthlessly pulled from their cozy, earthen homes, peas torn from their snug pods and corn ripped from its stalks. No thought is given to the heartlessness of these acts. In fact, the recent hipness of vegetarianism only exacerbates the problem. Now it is “cool” to massacre innocent rutabagas, watercress or chili peppers. But it is not hip or trendy, not to the vegetable families hurt by these acts.

People are even taking the destruction of vegetables to the next level, using it in popular culture for entertainment. If you have seen the movie “Signs,” you know what I am talking about. Hundreds, if not thousands, of cornstalks were mown down to create those crop circles. Destruction and devastation reigned in those corn communities, all so that M. Night Shyamalan could make another movie with a disappointing twist at the end.

These problems are not the only ones facing vegetables these days. Not only are they plagued by a disease like E-coli, which ruined poor spinach’s reputation, they find themselves second-class citizens when compared to their partners on the Food Pyramid, fruits. According to the Food Pyramid, which is a hierarchy I can believe in, vegetables are actually more important than fruits, meriting 3-5 servings daily compared to only 2-4 daily servings of fruit.

But still, fruits are given the top spot that vegetables deserve. It is always “fruits and vegetables,” but why can’t it be “vegetables and fruits?” What do they have that veggies lack? It can’t be an alphabetical order thing, because it’s always “Sonny and Cher,” and last I checked, “c” came before “s” in the alphabet.

And why are fruits always the choice for decoration or gift baskets? It’s always a fruit bowl in the middle of the table, or a fruit basket sent as a “Get Well Soon” gift. Are vegetables not pretty enough for use as decoration? Sure, apples and pears are shiny and bright, but have you ever seen the deep purple color of a ripe eggplant? That’s the color of royalty right there. Sure, pumpkins and gourds are used at Thanksgiving, but that holiday only comes once a year. And shouldn’t vegetables be sent to people recovering from illnesses? The vitamins would probably greatly help the healing process, without all the sugar naturally found in fruit.

This is on behalf of the poor vegetables, persecuted and abused in silence everywhere. These vegetables have no voice. When they are slaughtered, they cannot express their pain in human terms. So, from now on, let’s all be Equal Opportunity Eaters, Decorators and Gifters. Don’t let the vegetables go under advocated for any longer.

Marie Claire O’Donnell can be reached at modonne5@nd.edu
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Observer.