Internet provides solutions for bad eating habits

You didn’t eat enough fruits or vegetables today. Chances are, you didn’t eat any at all.

OK, that’s kind of an unfair accusation. Still, research shows that it isn’t unfounded. According to an Oregon State University study released last month, college men tend to eat five servings of the good stuff per week, while college women tend to eat only four servings.

Jovanna Tosello | Daily Trojan

But this lack of fruit and vegetable consumption is not the fault of any university — it’s the fault of the students.

It makes sense that college students don’t make their eating habits a priority. Juggling classes, jobs and extracurriculars is no joke; the task is made even harder by the fact that, in most cases, students are dealing with their first four years away from home.

With little prior experience in the realm of chores and cooking, many students succumb to ramen and fast food.

These are not justifications.  But they’re excuses — excuses the Internet has made obsolete.

Some students maintain they can’t eat well because they’re hopeless in the kitchen. To avoid burning the kitchen down, look no further than YouTube. The leading source of stupid animal videos also happens to be full of cooking demonstrations. These clips are often better than live demonstrations, as they can be paused, rewound and played over and over again.

More importantly, the videos don’t just come from chefs: They come from ordinary people. These are people who didn’t learn how to julienne carrots in a classroom. Coincidentally, “how to julienne carrots” on YouTube has about 234 results, “how to grill chicken” produced about 3,620 results and “how to boil pasta” produced about 5,370 results. You get the picture.

Students can run away from the kitchen with excuses, but they can’t escape the Internet.

Never before have students had access to such a variety of food-related knowledge. In the past, people relied on cookbooks, but the average college student doesn’t need another book to read.

The emergence of the blogosphere, however, changed matters dramatically. Now, there’s an entire world full of ordinary people who don’t have time to cook, who scrounge for food money, who use leftover beer in their recipes, whatever. Best of all, these people share ways to cook with these constraints in mind.

“A Year of Slow Cooking” is a blog written by Stephanie O’Dea. She’s a mother and not a student, but her tips are still helpful. The recipes on her blog range from easy and cheap to borderline fancy; she has something for every occasion.

What’s more, she does a fantastic job of describing the idiosyncrasies of slow cooking, allowing readers to eventually create their own recipes.

The Crock-Pot is one of the most low-maintenance cooking devices out there. Usually, making a meal with a Crock-Pot involves no more than dumping ingredients in the pot, plugging it in, choosing one of two temperatures and leaving the kitchen. The Crock-Pot can do its thing while you’re in class or asleep (or asleep in class). Its useful nature, along with convenience, is yet another way for students to avoid the laziness that comes along with cooking and eating healthy.

Admittedly, O’Dea’s recipes often have many ingredients. Luckily, students who don’t like grocery shopping can look to “College Cuisine.”

You can already tell that it’s geared toward college students, as the writer uses Tumblr. The personal blurb is also telling: “I don’t always have ingredients like Gruyere or heavy cream on hand (nor do I have the budget for them) but I can still whip up some tasty treats.” The writer makes simple meals that are sometimes portable and he has a bucket list of Los Angeles food.

No one’s going to cook every meal they eat. Some weeks, people really, truly don’t have time. Nonetheless, taking advantage of the Internet’s jaw-dropping resources should make those weeks about as rare as beef tartar.


Maya Itah is a senior majoring in communication. Her column “From Behind the Screen” runs Thursdays. 

1 reply
  1. Patrice Barber
    Patrice Barber says:

    Thank you, Maya for your article! I’m the registered dietitian at the Student Health Center and I think it’s great that you reminded us that “ordinary people” can cook well enough to take care of themselves. Really apreciate the comments about the slow cooker – meals take a little planning up front but it’s definitely worth it.

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