October 27, 2009

I Love Cafeteria Food!

Let me rephrase that: I love cafeteria food that is prepared and served with integrity, then enjoyed in good company.

Behold—good company:


Melissa generously treated me to lunch at one of NYU’s freshman dorms last week, and I was so impressed by the offerings that I had to share!

Check out the gorgeous salad bar—this only scratches the surface!


Fresh fruit and produce was abundant (right down to the huge baskets of decorative ginger root that threatened to bring out my sticky fingers), not to mention a wide variety of cooked vegetarian and vegan options.

I also had to pause and admire the caf’s eco-efforts. By not using trays, they save both water and energy when it comes to dishwashing.


Because NYU charges a flat rate per meal (as opposed to paying a la carte), you can imagine the amount of buffet-induced waste that a cafeteria like this could generate. I find it really admirable that the school has taken action to minimize their impact on the environment, especially in a city like Manhattan, which has its share of eco-problems in the first place.

Determined to do our part, you can be sure that we created very little waste indeed, despite our plates being piled high with veggie goodness. ;)


On top of a bed of salad greens and raw fixins, I dolloped a sample of just about every vegetarian/vegan option available. Everything was delicious, no joke! With dishes like roasted broccoli, baked winter squash and a tofu-rice dish on offer, Whole Foods’ prepared food bars have some serious competition. No lies!


And the eggplant/ratatouille-type dish gets a picture all to itself. When my plate overfloweth with eggplant, I’m a very happy camper indeed.


I had a great time catching up with Melissa—we’ve only gotten to chat briefly in group settings before this, so it was fun to grill her on her job, travel and all things blog- and fitness-related.

Turns out blogs aren’t the only thing we have in common:


We’re watch twins! This coinkydink moment was brought to you by Fossil and the boyf. :)

While the food selection at my college’s cafeterias was really impressive, I have to say that NYU takes it to another level with both health- and environmentally-conscious aspects built in to their cafeterias. Melissa was telling me that much of the food is even locally-sourced, which is a huge selling point for those of us seduced by the newly-trendy locavore movement (and rightly so!).

I realize that as one of the world’s major cities, New York may be ahead of the curve when it comes to heathy eating and eco-consciousness, but I would like to think that NYU’s example is indicative of policies to come, both nation- and world-wide. Sure, I spotted a handful of pajama-clad freshmen eating a well-balanced meal of hot dogs and Froot Loops, but even so, I have to believe that the cafeteria’s mostly-wholesome offerings come from demand, at least to some extent. Michelle Obama would be proud!

Do you have any particular memories of cafeteria food, good or bad? In your experience, if any, how do hospital cafeterias compare to school cafeterias? And how do you find that primary school cafeterias compare to cafeterias at the secondary level? If you have children, how do their cafeteria-provided meal options compare to what you ate when you were in school?


Dori said...

WOW. Maybe I woudn't have gained 20 lbs in college if I went to NYU. The food looks mouth watering! I want to go out to eat at the NYU freshman dorm. And I love that they source locally when they can, amazing for a big institution like that.

Love your watches too!

Olga @ Healthing It said...

WOW, that salad bar looks INCREDIBLE!

I had a meal plan (which was buffet style, unlimited junk sort of deal) for two years before I moved off campus. The salad bar was pretty well-stocked but it was the SAME thing every day...plus, tomatoes were usually soggy and gross.

As for the other food, there were always vegetarian options, burgers, fries...the usual. IF you really tried, you could eat healthy (there was soy milk and Heart to Heart!) but it was kind of hard.

When I went back there for a meal this year, I noticed how SALTY all the food was. It left me really thirsty and unsatisfied.

To be fair, my school has won some legit awards for its dining services: third best in the nation in terms of a huge university. Portion sizes were also reduced this year to limit waste. Our dining services also ONLY serves sustainable seafood, gets local produce and meat. I appreciated the meal plan but I got really sick of eating the same stuff all the time.

Cooking in my own kitchen is DEFINITELY better.

P.S. Sorry I just wrote you an essay...hahah

katherine said...

Oooh I remember pizzas in aluminum tins from elementary school and chicken nuggets in middle school and fried chicken patty sandwiches in high school. Good god, no wonder I had some pounds to shed!!

Devan Geselle. N said...

That food looks so delicious. Once again, I am tres jelous of your eats.
I never wnet to a school big enough for a "cafetria".. lame, I know.. we more so had vending machines, pop, chips, and junk!

The school I went to for makeup artistry had a full food court.. one being completly vegan.. I adored it!

Missy said...

The food at NYU looks amazing!! Definitely might beat Whole Foods from what I am looking at here! I have pretty negative memories of college food! I ate soo many turkey sandwiches and boring salads!

BroccoliHut said...

Holy delicious salad bar! SO jealous!
The salad bar here on campus is not bad...they're slowly getting the idea that baked tofu and roasted sweet potatoes are BIG hits!

Mama Pea said...

All I need is a salad bar...and love. I'd miss the trays though because my huge salads always spill over. That and I always use two plates.

Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) said...

Holy crap times are different now! I was in college a decade ago for undergrad and more recently for grad school and I have NEVER been to a caf like that. Ever. They serve cheap eggs and fatty bacon. Vegan fair would be a mushy apple. Wow that is just so awesome and their commitment to reduce waste is stellar! Nice watches, too. Twins!

healthy ashley said...

Good cafeteria food?! Awesome! Honestly, the only food I ever ate from the cafeteria was cookies :-)

Jessica said...

That meal DOES look delicious!!

Lizzy said...

i cannot believe how amazing that meal looks from the cafe. when i was living in the dorms at school we had NOTHING near as good looking as this! there was a pretty good salad bar and soup and sandwich station, but it was NOTHING like this and not nearly as fresh! its good to see that!

Erica said...

That is awesome! First of all- the food looks fabulous. Second I just think its so great that they are environmentally aware! Good stuff. And a fun lunch too :) Penn State (where I went to college) had pretty decent food. They also had some good healthy options (and have even expanded them since I left).

Abby (Abbys Vegan Eats) said...

WOW that looks amazing! I would enjoy visiting that NOW! lol

I teach in a middle school and we actually started contracting with a new caterer this year called "Health-E Kids". They provide decent veggies options everyday for the students so its nice to see. Today, for example the veg option was a mixed green and raisin salad with pita bread and a side of hummus. :)

Gena said...

Two part reaction:

1) I am so jealous and depressed that I couldn't make it. And my tastebuds are really upset, too -- the food looks amaaaaaaazing!

2) Heartening indeed! I love thinking that lunchtime options are getting that much better.

Love you guys!

Anonymous said...

i am always impressed with college food now. I've been touring colleges a lot and they never cease to amaze me with their fresh options!!

Diana said...

That cafeteria looks incredible. THAT'S how it should be everywhere.

Jenny said...

now if my school has food like that perhaps I would be more inclined to dorm there ;) looks lovely!