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Let them eat salad

| Wednesday, January 29, 2020

I’m not a huge inside column guy. As an employee of The Observer, I’m required to write a certain number of them per semester, but they never come easy to me. I love our Viewpoint section. I just find it difficult to contribute in light of some of the really great columns we get each week. I don’t like to get serious too often. It’s definitely a personal problem, but my instinct when writing these is always to try and lighten the mood. So once again, I’ll leave the serious stuff to those who can reflect on it far more impactfully than I, and I’ll try to bring some levity to the discussions about the Notre Dame community the best way I know how: by roasting the campus food options. 

My last inside column offered a harsh reproach of North Dining Hall’s food, and I found myself in the middle of a student government-dining hall administration beef, which certainly was not my intention. But I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t … dare I say, fun? Trouble can be fun, right?! But I’ve moved on from NDH since then. I’m a more mature diner now. I’m off campus. I shop for my own groceries, cook my own food. And again, I won’t comment on the fact that that food, which I, a broke and inexperienced college student, cook is quite literally light years better than the refined offerings of NDH. I won’t do that because I’m better than that now. I’m not petty. But perhaps we could talk about some other food options on campus .… 

As many of us know, when things get busy and funds are low, it’s easy to form some bad dietary habits. I mean, a McChicken is a dollar. One dollar! You may not want to admit it, but has your mother ever cooked anything as satisfying as a McChicken? You can call me trash for thinking that, but I think all of us have a bit of McDonald’s in us. Anyway, when you continually eat like crap, sometimes you want a good, wholesome meal. A nice salad, or a hearty soup. Maybe some sort of ambiguously labeled “bowl” with various seemingly healthy ingredients. When I find myself in this situation, I’m often told by peers, “Go to Modern Market.” And it makes sense. I mean just look at the menu — lined by bright colors and titles of salads, soups and, oh, there are those bowls! It’s the type of menu that makes you feel like a hipster after reading it. You suddenly think, “I’m healthy … I can be healthy … I could grow a handlebar mustache if I really wanted to.” And honestly, the few times I’ve eaten at Modern Market, I’ve been pleased with the food itself. I think the steak sandwich is actually quite good. Was it worth trading in my 1998 Saturn wagon for a sandwich the size of a ping pong ball? Eh. Ok but steak is expensive, right? Chicken isn’t so much. Why not go for the Chicken Cobb salad? It’s only $11! 

Maybe my criticism is representative of a blatant lack of understanding of economics, but I can’t imagine things would fall apart if a sandwich or salad was, say even six or seven dollars, instead of 12. And to be fair I know that Modern Market does have some quality food, it’s not the play-doh model of real food they have at Subway. But you’d think there may be more options for students to get some good, decently healthy food on campus that won’t break the bank. I know there’s ABP, and I think ABP is good also. But again, it’s expensive, and just because the name is French doesn’t mean macaroni and cheese is healthy all of the sudden. I haven’t been to the new pizza place on campus, but I prefer not to eat cardboard in the middle of the day when I still have tasks to complete. Smashburger is fine, but I need a shower afterwards. I’ve already commented on Subway, whose food is ironically reminiscent of the smells of the NYC Subway. Grasta’s wraps are good, and maybe I’m just making poor decisions, but I could fall asleep before I even make it out of Grace Hall after a Grasta meal. I don’t think I need to talk about Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. I’ve never eaten at Garbanzo. Seems unnecessarily expensive. I could go on, but you get the point. 

I know a lot of this sounds petty or whiny, and again I’m mainly being flippant. But wouldn’t it be nice to have a solid, decently healthy, fairly priced food option on campus? And I know the dining hall has more options, but have you seen how expensive a meal is at the DH? I could eat at Chipotle for like half the price. You might even read this and say “Wow, this dude really needs to just shut up and get a better job if he wants to eat better.” Fine. But no matter how much money I have, I’ll live by the same principles. So enjoy your avocado toast, but I’ll be fighting the good fight, unreasonably criticizing our food options so that one day we might eat like kings with the wallets of peasants.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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