Fresh Fruit Friday is brief but beloved

Jack Brandt

As a student athlete, I did better this year than last. Not because I worked any harder or changed my form, but because I ate better.

Last year, often running from class to class, I struggled to prioritize food. I dedicated most of my time to homework and friendships at the expense of my eating habits and sport. Then I made a decision that helped me enormously – I decided to eat more fruit.

In my experience, eating fruit has made it easier to get through the day, but as a sophomore living in a dorm last year, that wasn’t always an option. Fresh Fruit Friday, where fruit is served around 11:00 a.m. in the dining hall, is popular on campus, but it is often difficult to get there in time, and there is usually too little fruit by the time one can make it to the CSL.

Fruit is all around us, but where in our diets is it exactly? From fruit-flavored candy to fruit-flavored juice (zero percent juice), fruit-flavored energy drinks to fruit-scented soap and candles, sometimes the idea of fruit may be more accessible than fruit itself.

Society promotes processed options over fruit, even if fruit is simpler and more sustaining. Sophomore Cristal Moreno Aguilar recently traveled abroad to South and Latin America, and she described the difference in diet between these places and the United States.

“In other countries you make everything yourself,” Moreno Aguilar said. “Here… everyone else does it for you.”

She also feels that fruit is less abundant and tastes different in the United States. She contrasted her experience in Ecuador and Mexico with that in the United States.

“Papaya, for example, tasted really good there,” Moreno Aguilar said. “Here in the U.S., even if you know how to pick your fruits, it’s still hit or miss.”

I have also studied abroad and experienced a similar realization. My classmates were proud to share their international, hand-made meals, while I sat there thinking about my own diet, mostly mass-produced, no-preparation meals.

Sophomore Devlin Harris made a similar point about fruit availability in the United States and how processed choices take precedence over fruit.

“You look at the ingredients and there’s not like a single one you recognize,” Harris said. “It’s like, oh my goodness, what is this I’m eating?”

Fresh Fruit Friday is just one example of Augustana promoting good eating habits among the student population. Fresh strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and more can be found in the dining hall by the salad bar around 11:00 a.m. if you’re lucky.

But, for breakfast and dinner, there isn’t fresh fruit, and more often than not, if a student is late then they will only find empty bowls. Harris goes early to ensure that doesn’t happen to him.

“I’ve got early morning classes and I just go and camp out at the CSL,” Harris said. “I try to be first in line, get all the good things.”

Junior Julia Gromm works for Admissions and said that on Fridays, if students are needed to eat lunch with prospective students and family, she often volunteers. She commented on the popularity of Fresh Fruit Fridays around campus.

“If you go late, they’re always out of fresh fruit,” Gromm said. “People really like it, just based on that.”

Gromm and Harris agreed, on the other hand, that if more fruit was put out on Fresh Fruit Friday, more students would be able to take part. This could influence students to eat more healthily and would alleviate the stress of not having energy throughout the day.

There could also be fresh fruit for breakfast and dinner on Fridays, not just lunch. Often there is fruit in the dining hall at this time but it has almost no flavor.

“Breakfast is such a good time to have fruit,” Gromm said. “But they might only have bananas and apples.”

Grocery stores in the area offer better choices, but for students without cars, this is not a solution.

I often compare my current and previous years at Augustana. Am I really better off now? Have my habits changed? And the answer is yes, because now I rely less on the dining hall.

Societally speaking, there needs to be change. It could start here with the promotion of healthier eating habits and the expansion of Fresh Fruit Friday: a campus icon that still has so much potential.