To the Editor:
In response to Michael Gold’s recent editorial (“At Yale, inequality has no room at the table,” 3/30) about issues of unfairness relating to the Berkeley sustainable food project, I have three suggestions for Mr. Gold and the Yale student body. First, I suggest that we never, ever refer to the food in any Yale dining halls as “swill,” because it isn’t. It’s wonderful food, some of it is even reasonably healthy, and most complainers (most, mind you) just grouse about it because they miss home cooking. Second, I suggest that we re-examine the purpose of the sustainable food project — namely, to create delicious meals using foods that can be cultivated without harming the environment — and settle on our level of righteous indignation accordingly. Last I checked, “organic” did not equal “good for you,” nor did Berkeley’s food conform to some sort of healthy eating code. Our refined grains (heaping helpings of rice, pasta, waffles, white breads) and saturated fats (hamburgers, cheeses, butter-slathered vegetables, ice cream and yes, “greasy chicken”) will kill you as fast as the next dining hall’s. Meanwhile, Berkeley supports local growers whose eco-friendly farming methods are helping to preserve our natural world for the next generation of Yalies. If students want the program to end out of fairness to all, then they should think about being fair to that next generation.
Finally, I suggest that anyone who still bears ill will toward the program talk to Berkeleyites — really talk to some of them — and hear them say their piece about their so-called superior dining hall. I’ve heard endless complaints: there isn’t enough variety; the dishes are weird, unrecognizable, with unpronounceable names; the food takes too long to prepare, which means lots of waiting in line; there aren’t enough meat options; there aren’t enough salad bar options; dependence on seasonal foods leaves us all knee-deep in “roasted root vegetables” for months on end … and the list goes on. We have our own problems. Now, for crying out loud, Mr. Gold and members of the Yale community, please let us be. All we ask is to be allowed to keep our dining hall from overflowing with strangers so that we can use it to eat our lunches and spend what time we can with our friends and neighbors. It’s fair, and it’s right, and I believe that we here in Berkeley are all tired of the insinuation that we have something to apologize for. We don’t.
Sam Frank ’06
March 30, 2005