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Campus Rant: Berries

Observer Scene | Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Before I begin, let me just say that I love the food in the dining hall. Sure, I get tired of it sometimes, just like everyone else, but for the most part, the food is much better than it could be, and much better than it is at other schools. In fact, as I have overheard many a tour guide say, Notre Dame’s dining halls are rated the second-best in the country, and I could not disagree. Having said this, I have one, and only one, request – berries.

I do not mean the occasional strawberry topping that comes with angel food cake. I also do not mean the pie filling that comes from a can next to the waffle station. I am talking about fresh berries that would exponentially improve the fruit choices given to Notre Dame students.

Not only are there a wide variety of berries to choose from, such as blueberries, strawberries, blackberries or my personal favorite, raspberries, these fruits are so universally loved that they would be a sure-fire hit each time they appeared.Even more than the wonderful taste, berries would offer a plethora of options for dining hall diners to be creative and make dishes that would increase the already wide variety of food choices offered. In addition to eating the berries alone, they would make great toppings for desserts, can be a valid addition to one’s everyday bowl of cereal, or could be combined with the vanilla yogurt offered daily to make a parfait dessert of which onlookers could not help but be jealous.

Coming from someone who has a very difficult time choosing a salad instead of a corn dog, berries would also be a delicious way to add healthy foods to one’s diet. The USDA now recommends that both males and females between ages 19 and 30 eat two cups of fruit each day, and what better way to reach that goal than to eat something as delicious as a parfait?

According to the Berry Health Benefits Network, each type of berry has its own unique set of health benefits beyond the normal vitamins that each contains. For instance, strawberries can help prevent such illnesses as heart disease and cancer, as the body uses the antioxidants which make the strawberries red. Raspberries have antioxidants as well, but are also being used in Japan as a weight-loss supplement. And blueberries seem have been shown to have the highest levels of antioxidants, and can also help lower one’s cholesterol, which can help prevent heart disease and stroke.

Now, I understand that Notre Dame is in South Bend, Ind., and that the weather here is not exactly optimal for the growing of fresh berries (or for much of anything, for that matter). I also understand that the University strives to serve as much locally-grown food as possible. I am not convinced, however, that all of the food served in the dining halls comes from the greater South Bend area, which means that berries could be imported from other, more fertile places in the United States.

Please, Food Services, hear my request. You have done a wonderful job of creating many eating establishments that serve our campus well, and, in particular, you have done an incredible job with the two dining halls. I see only one thing as lacking, and have shown all of the benefits that this one addition would bring. We just want our berries.