Digesting Commons Nutrition

Students complain about Commons food every day. They whine about drab taste, the lack of selection, and even the smell and look of the food. Commons replies by saying that such food is nutritious and organic. It supplies us with energy to help us function. But are all these claims true? Does Commons actually provide a nutritious meal? By using simple resources like the Internet and the Commons nutrition charts, anyone interested can find out for himself or herself. I picked a random meal, dinner on Tuesday, March 27, and mapped out the nutrition facts. On Tuesday, Commons served barbecue ribs, Szechuan chicken stir-fry, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, rice, and fresh vegetables. By using data from Commons, I calculated the nutritional intake a person would get out of this meal. If a student eats one helping of each and everything served, he or she would get 1226 calories, 54.92 grams of protein, 1,287.79 milligrams of sodium, 103.64 milligrams of cholesterol, and 145.08 grams of carbs. For an active 5’5” male weighing 110 pounds, the consumption values seemed to fluctuate according to data from the US Department of Agriculture. The student, if he or she fit the given size, would have much more than the recommended sodium in one meal, certainly not healthy. The amount of cholesterol in this specific meal is also far too high. The American Heart Association recommends under 170 milligrams of cholesterol for children and adolescents 2 – 19 years of age. Yet, at this one meal, there are over 100 milligrams of cholesterol. On the other hand, the student would have lots of protein to use. This would be favorable for muscle growth. To complement the protein, there are extra carbohydrates in the meal. Thus, it is interesting to see that the two nutrients that Commons gives students above adequate amounts of promote rapid muscle growth and immediate energy. In other words, Commons gives us the perfect amount of nutrients for the here and now. However, the two nutrients that Commons provides inadequate or excessive amounts of promote long-term diseases that will affect us in later life. Too much cholesterol promotes heart disease, and too much sodium raises blood pressure. So, the nutrients provided by Commons are great for the here and now, but rather bad for the future. In order to get the recommended amount of calories per day by eating at Commons (2,982), a student needs to consume literally one serving of everything on the menu for each meal of every day. So in order to have sufficient energy stores for the day, we also have to consume too much sodium and cholesterol. This is another problem with the menu at Commons. However, despite these numerous problems that Commons has, it is, most likely, still the best source of nutrition we have access to. Other options, such as pizza or Chinese food, pose far worse problems. Chinese food restaurants, Golden Chopsticks in particular, produce food very cheaply and most likely with the use of MSG. Other options such as pizza would add far too much cholesterol and fat, while not even giving students sufficient protein and carbohydrates. So while Commons has its problems, we should probably still eat there.