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GOODMAN: Without options, unhealthy food wins

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Goodman_WEBWe all know the feeling. It’s late, your stomach’s grumbling and you need food that’s fast, cheap and will induce a strong enough food coma you’ll be asleep before the guilt starts.

Whether it’s leaving the library after midnight, heading home at bar close or simply missing the late night McCormick dining hours, facing a prospect of stale chips and ramen noodles at 2 a.m. is less than ideal.

So what’s the solution to satisfy those late night munchies? Order Chopstix, that’s what.

It begins the first weekend on campus as a new student. You walk into the residence hall, glance at the bulletin board and see a Chinese restaurant menu resembling those you keep stuffed in a kitchen drawer at home. One pair of roommates orders, and word spreads like wildfire about the place that may not have a correctly spelled name, but sure is delicious.

The best part? It delivers until 3 a.m.

You make that first fateful call to one of two phone numbers (that’s right – Chopstix is so popular they provide two numbers on the menu) and an instant romance buds. It may be a one-sided, self-destructive romance based on financial gains, but a love affair nonetheless.

Ordering Chopstix isn’t just an act – it’s an experience. It’s about chasing the delivery guy across the street because you’re not quite sure what your residence hall’s address is yet. It’s the copious amounts of rice and meat fit to feed an entire high school football team. And it’s the lingering smell that serves as a reminder of the torture your body endured by indulging in such food.

Overall, though, it’s pretty fantastic … until the Milwaukee Health Department reports three pages worth of health violations at the restaurant.

According to an NBC News TMJ4 article last week based on the health department’s report, the violations were endless. Employees didn’t wash their hands while working. Even if they wanted to wash up, there wasn’t soap to do so. There was a “severe fruit fly problem” in the food prep area. Dirty sinks, moldy shelves and slimy cutting boards were used near the food.

Hearing reports like this is scary. If you’re like me, images of hair falling into sauces and body parts cut off and placed in egg rolls start to flood your mind. We all know Chopstix is food poisoning waiting to happen, but if the restaurant is clean we can at least blame ourselves for the injustice done to our bodies each meal.

This isn’t the first time Chopstix has been slammed with health code violations, though. So why do we keep ordering it?

The problem is not Chopstix. It’s the fact that if it isn’t Chopstix on those late nights, it’s cheese curds from Dogg Haus. If it’s not Dogg Haus it’s Real Chili. If it’s not Real Chili, it’s Jimmy John’s, accompanied by a mountain of mayo. And if it’s not Jimmy John’s, it’s Papa John’s on $5 Tuesdays.

Our campus is surrounded by junk. Yes, we’re college students, and yes, we oftentimes choose to eat such things – I’ll even admit to recently surrendering to cheese curds. But simply because we occasionally make such choices doesn’t mean they should be the only options.

Some late nights all I really want is some fruit. The only option is to run to 7-Eleven and buy a little plastic container of grapes that may or may not have mold on them. The kiwis always look pretty good, but I mean, why does a place like 7-Eleven sell kiwis in the first place?

Not everyone has the luxury of having a car on campus, or the time to take a 45-minute bus ride to the nearest grocery store. The realistic options are dorm or AMU food, the places on Wells Street or ordering health code-violating Chinese food. On top of that, rumor is that one of the healthiest options on campus – Subway – is being replaced by an apartment building. 

We need a legitimate place on campus to buy groceries that doesn’t primarily serve liquor. We need a coffee shop or deli that’s open all night. Other schools have them; why can’t we if people are willing to work late hours? And we need options that at least give us the chance to make healthier eating decisions on those late nights.

I know it’s a matter of space and location, and I also know there are much more pressing issues currently facing the university than fresh fruit and veggies, but this is something that needs to be of higher importance going forward.

Until the conversation progresses, though, it’ll just have to be fried cheese, greasy pizza and fruit-fly infested orange chicken. And we’ll deal with the unpleasant soy sauce hangovers in the morning.

Brooke Goodman is a senior studying journalism and political science. Email brooke.goodman@marquette.edu with anything you’d like to see her write about.

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