Forbidden fruit

Before I would arrive home for a college break, my parents used to call and ask if there was anything special they could buy me for when I come visit. They quickly stopped asking when they realized my answer always was, and remains the same: fruit. There is nothing I crave more during the school year than the fresh, rinsed raspberries, blueberries and mangos my parents buy in bulk at Costco.

Now, I know I’m not the only Eph feeling unsatisfied with the limited fruit options provided by dining services. This is especially evident on the rare occasion fruit other than bananas and apples are offered at a Williams dining hall. Strawberries at Mission brunch? The excitement is palpable – you’ll hear, “They have strawberries!” multiple times as you make your way down the buffet line, hoping there will be some left by the time you hit the salad bar. Rarer still was the basket of kiwis at Whitman’s one breakfast on a Sunday morning last year. Never before have I seen someone so blatantly steal so much food from a dining hall – a girl came out balancing eight of the fuzzy misshapen balls in her hands, way more than the acceptable five my friend and I took for the rest of our suite. Likewise, I’ll always remember setting down a full fruit platter in my first-year common room at 9:55 p.m. and seeing my entry devour the entire thing before snacks even started, even in the presence of chocolaty desserts. And if you’ve ever been to Stressbusters right when it opens, you know the clementines are always the first food item to go.

Students’ demand for fruit is only half the reason we should increase its supply at the College. A wider variety and larger quantity of this very important food group would also undoubtedly help us live a healthier lifestyle. According to the “food plate” released by the United States Department of Agriculture, roughly 15 percent of our meals should be made up of fruit – and half our plates should be a combination of fruits and vegetables. I find it hard to believe that Ephs manage to attain those ideal proportions with the fruit usually available in the dining halls alone. Our physical education requirement makes it apparent that Williams is committed to promoting students’ physical health. The impressive salad options at all three major food venues make it clear that dining services already prioritizes healthy eating, recognizing the importance of vegetables in our diets. Increasing our assortment of fresh fruit would be the next logical step towards the College’s mission for a healthy campus.

Unfortunately, fruit is very expensive, especially when most of it is imported from faraway places that enjoy much warmer climates than does New England. As we all know, buying additional fruit would mean using money currently going elsewhere. I propose we reroute funding within dining services, reducing the amount of money we spend on cereal – just kidding. I know Ephs have an unwavering desire for their brand name cereal. No, I believe we should replace some of the bake shop’s desserts with nature’s candy.

Unlike Whitman’s frozen blueberries, which always run out well before breakfast is even close to over, I usually see extra cookies, cakes and bars at snack bar. Sometimes you’ll notice leftover cupcakes from the dinner before, but you never spot extra peaches or grapes when they make an appearance at the dining hall. Instead of focusing so much effort into desserts students love but eat in moderation, some of the time and money could be spent on improving our fruit selection. In addition, there are many signs advertising student job opportunities at the various dining halls – positions including bake shop assistant – because, I presume, they are in short supply of staff. One remedy would be for dining services to save money and aim to hire fewer student assistants, particularly at the bake shop, so that it would bake in smaller quantities, saving money in ingredients and labor for the much less laborious task of rinsing fruit, a treat that hardly requires any preparation. Redirection from dessert to fruit would also reinforce the College’s commitment to health consciousness. Furthermore, as implied by its nickname “nature’s candy,” fruit is a natural alternative to traditional dessert, so funneling resources from one to the other would be a very natural, functional shift.

As much as I appreciate and am grateful for our seemingly never-ending supply of bananas, with the occasional pear or grapefruit thrown in the mix, I think our fruit options could stand to see some expansion. Instead of aggressively labeling self-bought boxes of blackberries with swearwords and exclamation points to protect what is easily the most coveted item in the communal refrigerator, my suitemate should be relaxed, sharing a plate of fruit in the dining hall with friends. My hope is that, one day, the presence of, say, fresh raspberries in Driscoll will be as commonplace and expected as is the quinoa in Mission.

Libby Dvir ‘16 is a psychology major and justice and law concentrator from New York, N.Y. She is currently studying abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina.