I have to admit, when the school announced that it was going to change the
food in the cafeteria and vending machines to “healthier alternatives” last January, I was surprised. No, not by the fact that they were taking away all of the sugary and fried foods our cafeteria had become known for. I was surprised how many people actually thought this was a bad thing.
The announcement was made shortly after the provincial government made a new amendment in the “Health Food for Healthy Schools Act” which bans candy, energy drinks and fried foods as well as states that “80 per cent of the new school menu must include products with the highest levels of essential nutrients and lowest amounts of fat, sugar and sodium.”
It amazes me when people seem to be up in arms about a rise in standards. The government is helping regulate the quality of food that the cafeteria is allowed to give us and here we are, complaining about it. And when I say quality, I mean it. There’s no denying that the food in the cafeteria has increased in quality since the start of the new changes in September: the pizzas have got more toppings, the lasagna actually tastes like lasagna now, and the new oven baked fries, wow, have you tasted those things? Speaking of pizza and fries, it’s worthwhile to point out that the cafeteria isn’t only going to serve spinach and tofu, your favourite caf meals are still there, just slightly altered to meet with government standards which, personally, I think make them taste much better. If fact, because of the new standards, the cafeteria is actually coming out with more new, interesting dishes, and if you’ll notice, there hasn’t even really been an increase in the food prices either. True, they are going to phase out the poutine at some point, but really, it’s a small price to pay for the quality of food we’re receiving.
When you actually look at the changes that have been made to the cafeteria, you start to wonder why these changes weren’t implemented earlier. The reason: It was simply more efficient for the cafeteria to make and sell cheaper food that is faster to make so that they receive a larger revenue over a shorter period of time. This is pretty much the same business model used by fast food restaurants like McDonald’s or KFC. It’s a pretty sad thing when your school’s cafeteria is run the same way as a place that serves melted processed cheese, fat drenched sauce, and bacon between two pieces of deep fried chicken. But now that these standards have been implemented, we’ve actually forced the companies supplying the cafeteria to stop cutting corners and actually deliver quality products. Why are we mad about this again?
As for the vending machines, it’s true that there is much less selection than previous years, but I feel as though that won’t be for long. Companies hate to lose markets, and the raising of standards in health will hopefully give these companies the wakeup call to, much like the cafeteria, increase the quality of their products so that they meet government standards. And if not, better companies will no doubt move into the open market with their own quality products that actually do meet the standards. Either way, I’m sure that we’ll see more variety in the vending machines by the end of this school year or the start of the next. Don’t worry there won’t just be diet soda for long.
And since we’re on the subject of diet soda, can we please stop acting like aspartame is even worse than sugar. It’s getting annoying. Yes there have been suspicions that aspartame may cause underlying health problems, but this is only suspicion, most of them coming from undocumented claims and the falsified “Markle” email hoax. In reality, aspartame has been deemed safe for human consumption by over 100 regulatory agencies including Health Canada. In fact, it would take approximately 21 cans of diet soda daily to even surpass the FDA’s acceptable daily intake of aspartame.
And so there you have it. With one single amendment, the government has increased the quality of our food, help us eat healthier, and maybe even opened out eyes to how we see “health foods”, all without additional costs to us. Am I mad? Of course I am! I’m mad that they didn’t implement this thing sooner!