College student…working mommy. Definite parallels.
One of the blogs I enjoy a lot is “Eat. Drink. Better”–multiple authors with a lot of good things to say. It’s a good blog.
Their most recent post was by a new blogger on the site, Camille–a graduate student who eats a lot of ramen noodles and pop tarts and is sort of at this “I think I’d like to do things a little differently” point all we nouveau-greeny types got to at some point. (One could feel virtuous at how far one has come…then again, one could wonder how much besides a whole mess of blog entries and endless self-indulgent words really separates one from one’s former life as an eater of ramen noodles…) (That’s self-reflection, not a reflection on anyone else. Sometimes I feel like a big fake at all this, because there’s so much I probably could be doing that I’m not.) I’m looking forward to reading more of her posts.
She got me to thinking…okay, here she is, a college student–she has a kitchen, but she has no time, no energy, probably 40 hours of stuff to do in every 24 (most of which belong to someone else) and probably not a lot of support for the whole how-can-i-eat-healthier thing in her circles, since most of her friends probably eat pop tarts and ramen noodles too. She’s a college student.
I’m trying to think back to my own days of academic immersion, and while admittedly the green movement wasn’t even a blip on the radar in the late 1980’s outside of the pages of Mother Earth News and the dog-eared copy of Silent Spring on my mom’s bookshelf, I can’t think of a single person I knew in college or grad school who made any effort at all to eat like a healthy human being. I mean, whenever we would afford it (once a month or so, maybe) someone might make lasagna, and we might even have a salad of iceberg lettuce and a few cherry tomatoes with it, but that was the apex of our culinary ambitions. (Sigh…he made the best lasagna ever…not only did laundry but knew what fabric softener was for…kept his apartment clean…was tall and funny and charming and liked musicals…the perfect guy. Unfortunately for me, he turned out to be the perfect guy for a really lucky guy he met a few years later. The heartbreaks of youth. And I never even got the lasagna recipe.) Usually it was ramen noodles, pasta, rice-a-roni, canned soup, Kraft cheez and macaroni (because we all knew, from their marketing team, that there’s so much real cheese in there), fairly awful stuff like that. And then, at the end of the month when the fellowship check wasn’t due for a couple of days and the checking account was dry, peanut butter out of the jar on a spoon…unless I could find a friend who couldn’t cook and convince them that I’d make a nice chicken dinner if they’d buy the groceries . The chem majors had bigger fellowship checks than the musicians did; they were good to befriend.
That was a long time ago, in a different life, of course. Things are so different now: I’m a working mom. I have a kitchen, but I have no time, no energy, 40 hours of stuff to do in every 24 (most of which belong to someone else) and not a lot of support for the whole how-can-i-eat-healthier thing in my circles, since most of my friends shop at Aldi. So…not so different after all. The difference is that now I have mommyguilt to drive me, and the activities that take up all those hours are less intellectually stimulating than they were in college, so now that some of my postpartum brain cells appear to be growing back I’m starting to think in the longer term. Plus…well…I’m older.
If the harried speedymamas and the college students ever connected with each other (which we won’t since we’re all too busy and too insular), some interesting exchanges of ideas might happen. I bet Camille and her friends could make some really affordable changes for themselves without killing too much of their time–God, if I’d even known about lentils and dried beans back then, I would never have run out of food at the end of the month: a pound of beans at the time went for less than a dollar, ditto a pound of brown rice, and the peanut butter jar was well over three. If I’d known a can of chicken broth and a can of seasoned diced tomatoes were the cheapest easiest soup base ever and could take practically anything thrown into them (including lentils and/or brown rice), I’d’ve stayed away from the Progresso stuff. If I’d known how easy “real” oatmeal was, I would not have shelled out all that ridiculous money for the tiny packets that came six in a box, and if I’d known then how painless making one’s own granola is, I would have saved a lot there too. I would still probably have ignored a lot of produce and not eaten enough fruits and veggies, but I would have eaten better, healthier, and cheaper protein and filled up on whole grains rather than the useless (but tasty) refined stuff.
Anyway…I hope she has fun. It’s an adventure, this taking control of what one eats and where it comes from. I wish her well and will look forward to reading more of her.
p.s. I’m still Facebook friends with lasagna guy; I don’t know if he reads this blog, but if he does, I still would really love that recipe…:-)