Healthier food should be available everywhere

Russell Finelsen, Staff Writer, Assistant Editor, Sports Editor

We eat lunch every day. Whether it is at the school cafeteria or the cafeteria at the Science Center, we order what we want, and we eat. However, some places still have unhealthy food, and do not have replacements that are healthier. This is bad for all of us.

The government has been stressing for years that cafeterias in schools should start serving healthier food. This objective was pushed even more after the new food pyramid was introduced. This made schools rethink food choices in their cafeteria.

Now, cafeterias all over the United States have been switching out food. Instead of pepperoni pizza, they serve it plain; and, if they usually serve candy, they now sell nuts, whole grain chips, and such. Even with these changes, I still have a question: What about the rest of the country?

Back in the day, nobody served healthy food when we went out to eat, which partly caused the obesity epidemic. Due to the fact that there were no healthy choices, many of us had to deal with the unhealthier stuff. This junk had so many ingredients, half of them I could not pronounce! Junk food was filled with additives, food coloring, and other ingredients that made the food look and taste good. Yet, it did not contain any vitamins or minerals that strengthen our bones or such.

Now, due to government regulations, schools have made the change from unhealthy to healthy. But, when we leave the school, we cannot go to the cafeteria for Sunday brunch to eat healthy. We have to suck it up with the Burger Kings, Red Robins, and Outbacks of the world, where they have not undergone change throughout this whole period.

While the government forced schools to make healthy choices an option for kids, they could not force these huge franchise and chain restaurants to revise their menu. Therefore, restaurants can keep serving unhealthy food to people of all ages.

From crab legs to juicy hamburgers, and from ten-pack nuggets to a pair of fish sticks, restaurants everywhere say that their food is healthy. They talk about the calories inside, and that it must be healthy if it is under 1,000 calories. Due to this, gullible people buy into this every day and eat their food.

What restaurants do not say is why their food is healthy beyond the amount of calories inside. If a sandwich is only 100 calories, but does not have any vitamins or minerals, then it will do little to keep you healthy. One would be better with a piece of food that is 500 calories, but has all those vitamins, like C, which is a natural antioxidant, and D, which helps with the bones.

What I am saying is that restaurants do very little to sell healthy food to their customers. They know that the government will not force them, and that it is too expensive to buy an apple, so they buy an apple lollipop. However, these food places should make their food healthier for all.

In every neighborhood, restaurants need to adopt a healthier menu. Whether it is an economically disadvantaged neighborhood, where a person can only afford the $1 Egg McMuffin, or a wealthy neighborhood, where you can choose whether you want your shrimp from France or Spain, restaurants need to adopt better menus.

Healthier food everywhere will help people make better decisions about what they are eating. This is because, with a few tweaks in the menu, one can now choose between a healthy veggie sandwich or an equally healthy salad, and not have to pay exorbitant prices. And, even though some restaurants have started with the changeover, there needs to be a bigger revolution in order for it to actually happen, from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon.

In addition, if restaurants add healthier choices, our generation now can educate our children and grandchildren about the new healthy food that we can order from places that did not have it years prior. These changes can help better teach and feed generations to come.

As I conclude, I just want to say it one more time. Restaurants are not exempt to the idea of serving healthy food. Even though the government does not own the restaurants and can not force them to serve healthier, it is only fair to all of us that restaurants get on the move to find healthier food to put on their menu. Schools have done it, and it has turned into a huge success. Why not restaurants?