Emma Polen | layout editor
Oct. 14, 2021
The prices of fresh fruits and vegetables continue to rise while fast food restaurants cut down on cost whole dollars at a time.
For college students living independently, some for the first time in their lives, this can be problematic for many reasons.
First of all, fast food appears so easy and convenient, while a healthy, homemade meal requires planning and preparation.
Secondly, the price of fresh food is less appealing than a fast drive thru meal to young people. Compare a $2.50 head of lettuce at Giant Eagle to a $1.69 double cheeseburger at McDonalds.
Lettuce is a more vitamin-rich option, but the cheeseburger supplies a more efficient way to reach the daily calorie count.
However, what are you really gaining from a fast food burger?
Matthew Thompson, a health blogger, compares food blog EatingWell’s recipe for the “classic burger” to a Big Mac.
Thompson found that the Big Mac is 165 more calories, and it is full of questionable ingredients. The bun has a significant additive of high fructose corn syrup. McDonald’s “Special Sauce” contains 33 ingredients. How complicated is it to make ketchup? Furthermore, the Big Mac has 1,010 mg of sodium—about half of the FDA’s daily recommended intake for adults.
At least when making the food yourself, you have better control of what goes into your body. The homemade burger Thompson compared to the Big Mac had less than half the saturated fat and half the sodium. Unfortunately, the ingredients are definitely more expensive than a $3 Big Mac.
Even though fast food continues to be the cheapest and easiest way to grab a quick bite, there are a few cost-effective ways that Duquesne students can add fresh produce to their dinner.
Chip District Farmers’ Market, located on the intersection of Penn Avenue and 19th Street in the Strip District, is where students can find affordable, local produce close to campus. They have a great selection of seasonal fruits and vegetables all year ‘round.
In addition, Misfit Market online offers a way to get cheap produce delivered right to your door. The merchandise might look a little worse for wear, but it is worth it once you consider the bargain price and all the fresh food Misfit Market saves from going to waste during the food production process.
This might shock some readers, but buying frozen food is in fact another way to eat fresh on a budget. Frozen fruits and vegetables are frozen almost immediately after harvest, locking in key nutrients and extending their shelf life, says healthline.com.
In the spirit of Treat Yo’Self (see A&E) it is sometimes worth the extra dollar or two to get the best fresh foods. ‘Tis the season for fall festivals, so keep an eye out for local farmers’ markets.
Buying locally might be more expensive, but I guarantee that Farmer Bill from Monroeville has more organic produce than anything you’ll find at Giant Eagle. Plus, supporting local farms allows them to continue growing sustainably.
I am not opposed to ordering a McDonald’s Big Mac every now and then. Nevertheless, fresh foods are more beneficial to a balanced diet. These are just a few ways to incorporate cheap, fresh produce into a college food diet while living on and off campus.