J500 Media and the Environment

Looking at food pantries as a mirror by Lauren Cunningham

In case you missed it this week, The Associated Press reported that a woman claimed that the fat around her midsection, otherwise known as love handles, saved her life from a gunshot. She was quoted in the story saying, ‘I want to be as big as I can if it’s going to stop a bullet.’

Now, not only did I think her quote was one of the most illogical statements I’ve read in a while, but the story got me thinking about how the types of foods people eat show in appearance or beliefs about nutrition.

I’ll be the first to admit I don’t always eat what I should. (I don’t think anyone really does.) But since taking time to learn about the importance of healthy, sustainable and local foods, I really try to pick out items in the grocery store that reflect this awareness. Unfortunately, because I am a college student and don’t have a lot of money, I can’t always afford the best foods.

My mom often is my hook-up for healthy, locally-grown food, such as this ground beef from Santa Fe Trail Meats. (Photo taken with my iPhone TiltShiftGen app)


I think my food pantry and refrigerator reflects my conflict of “Do I buy all fresh, local or organic food or do I buy cheap junk food?” pretty well. In my kitchen, you can find anything from ground beef from Santa Fe Trail Meats or whole grain bread to Velveeta shells and cheese or off-brand cereal.

Honestly if I can get twice as much cereal in a big off-brand bag for half the price of a cereal like Kashi, I’m going to choose the off-brand bag. Yes, I would love to buy Kashi everytime I buy cereal, but that’s extra money each grocery trip I could use for bills, rent, etc.

For me, primarily focusing on buying higher quality proteins, fruits or vegetables is the best option for the income I have right now. Once I have a steady income, I definitely want to be able to shop primarily at places like The Merc. The reality is that I can’t afford it now. It’s enough for me to try to find fresh or healthy foods, let alone organic or locally-grown foods.

Luckily, I do have healthier opportunities around me even now that I always try to take advantage of. One of our family friends shares the vegetables she grows in her garden with my parents and with me, which I love. As a teacher, my mom also regularly tries to buy local foods from her students’ families or co-workers (hence, my supply of meat from Santa Fe Trail Meats).

No, not all of the foods in my kitchen reflect someone who always chooses the healthiest option of food. But I’m not that person just yet anyway. I think my food selection still shows that I am constantly thinking of the smartest, most sustainable food choices for my budget.

— Lauren Cunningham


4 Comments so far
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I thought the gunshot story was ridiculous, too because had she not had the love handles, she wouldn’t have been shot! Anyway, which part of your diet do you think is the most important part to splurge on and go for the healthier version on? -Kristina B.

Comment by kristinabev


Yeah, that was definitely the other ironic part of that story. Her whole argument was completely illogical … and, this might sound awful, but a bit funny.

Anyway, I think it’s most important to splurge on proteins, vegetables and fruits, at least for me. Of course, that’s not always what I can do all of the time because of budgetary reasons, but if I’m making a meal with chicken or beef, I think it’s really important to get the best quality. I have the same theory on fruits or vegetables. I try to eat what’s in season at the time, and if I’m using it in my dinner, I try to use veggies from either The Merc or from our family friend’s garden when I can.
— Lauren Cunningham

Comment by Lauren Cunningham

I agree with you here Lauren. I often find myself having to decide between the healthy brands and the cheap brands too! I think this is common for college students because of the limited income or money we may have. I like that you brought up this point!

I am wondering approximately what percentage you would say your pantry is of the healthy brands and that of the cheap brands. I find it interesting to compare the two.
Interesting post!

-Jackie M.

Comment by jackiemcc

I would probably say that in my pantry, about 80 percent of it is what I consider to be healthy, and 20 percent. Now, here, healthy doesn’t mean that it’s local or organic necessarily. Those items are included in my definition of healthy, of course, but when I’m shopping for food, I also try to think about calories, sugars, fats, etc. And I know you and I can agree that that isn’t easy to do always unfortunately.

I think that it’d be interesting for me to look at what I consistently buy that’s an off-brand or unhealthy food at the grocery story. I think I’d learn a lot by analyzing that and drawing conclusions to what I consider to really be important foods to me … Hmm, I might have to try that.
— Lauren Cunningham

Comment by Lauren Cunningham

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