Letter: Veggies have feelings too

Hello again, dear editor. 

I found myself eating in the Union Drive Marketplace — which doesn’t happen often, as I’m generally not one for taking risks — but I suppose convenience must count for something. I am writing because of a conversation I overheard. Whilst suspiciously regarding a bowl of chicken tortilla soup sitting in front of me, to my left I observed a pair of male students animatedly discussing vegetables. One appeared to be in favor of them, and one did not. I’ll try to report their discussion as accurately as possible.

Student A: “But really, do you actually, like, eat them for pleasure?”

Student B: “Yeah. It’s all about the texture. If they’re cooked right, I could eat, like, a steak-sized amount of steamed carrots.”

Male A: “Well, OK. I just think it’s weird.”

Let me begin by saying it’s definitely not weird. Vegetables can without a doubt be tasty little chunks of vitamins and nutrients, so long as they’re cooked correctly. The reason I recount this conversation and write to the Daily is because I’ve been regrettably disappointed with the vegetable selection offered by the Union Drive Marketplace. Whether they’ve been served steamed, stir-fried, roasted, sauteed, boiled or even grilled, I’ve noticed both the quality and variety to be lacking. And this is truly very unfortunate as the university food service should be making all efforts possible to promote healthy eating. 

Carrots should be steamed until they are tender. A fork should be able to easily slide into them when pressed. Green beans should be cooked until crisp and tender and blanched. Their consistency should not imitate that of a wet noodle floating in water. Broccoli should be cooked to retain its natural sweetness and color. It should certainly be tender, but for the love of all that is holy do not overcook it which is often the case. When stir-fried, vegetables should be cooked to retain their individual textures. The purpose of stir-frying is to contrast them with the rice, noodles and protein they are served with. Finally, in a most earnest and desperate plea, I ask that vegetables be properly seasoned. Fresh herbs, garlic, ginger, lemon, olive oil and vinegar are all fantastic options that can be combined with the classic salt and pepper to give a vegetable added dimension.

Now all this being said, I’m not sure quite what the limitations being faced by the ISU Dining staff are exactly. These goals might just be unobtainable, but I suggest that work be done to improve both the quality and selection of vegetables offered. I urge students to be more vocal in their protest. Do not idly sit by and allow yourself the dissatisfaction of a limp green bean or dry piece of broccoli — take to the streets if you have to. Vegetables should not be casually disregarded and strewn aside in favor of the more popular food groups; they deserve to be both properly prepared and savored.