Healthy eating promoted at university farmers’ market

Food, especially when it’s free, will get a university student’s attention much faster than lectures and professors ever will.

That’s why it was no surprise to see a vast crowd of students at the Meeting Place at the University of Toronto at Scarborough (UTSC) where the Indoors Farmers’ Market was set up on Wednesday.

The market was operated by vendors who own food stores in the communities nearby. Pastries, bread, jams and fresh produce including potatoes and tomatoes were some of the items on display, where free samples were available. Everything was sold at a discounted price rather than at market value for the crowd of hungry students.

University students are the worst when it comes to eating healthy foods.

— Charles Saunders

It may have been a market, but according to many of the vendors there, their goal wasn’t to make money but rather to promote healthy foods and a healthy lifestyle to students.

“University students are the worst when it comes to eating healthy foods,” said Charles Saunders, a bread vendor at the market. “We want to show them that there are much better eating options out there besides the unhealthy foods they eat.”

Many of the students at the market acknowledged their preference for a junk food-heavy diet favouring foods like pizza and burgers. A lot of them know that it’s not healthy, but they have their reasons for their choice.

“Fast food is just so much cheaper than trying to get healthy food,” says Waytien Gao, a third year management student at UTSC. “Plus, it provides more energy.”

Many other students have similar beliefs but Saunders disagrees with both notions.

“A vegetable pastry will cost you around the same as a slice of pizza and it is healthier. It’s the same for a lot of other healthy foods as well. Getting a cup of yogurt costs the same as a chocolate bar and will provide much more energy. Having a healthy diet is a manageable option for students.”

You can work out all you want, but if you don’t watch what you eat then it won’t do much.

— Neil Dutta

Neil Dutta, a trainer at the Carabob Recreation Centre in Scarborough, says not enough students understand the effect their diet has on their bodies, even the ones who want to stay in shape.

Dutta stresses that the first thing students who want to stay fit should do is to watch what they eat.

“I get a lot of guys here looking to work out and the first thing I always ask them before they lift any weights is if they’re eating healthy foods. You can work out all you want, but if you don’t watch what you eat then it won’t do much.”

Saunders says he just wants students to try out everything rather than falling into unhealthy eating habits.

“I know how popular stuff like pizza and fries is with you guys and I’m not asking you to completely stop eating it,” he said. “But just don’t make a habit out of eating junk food every day and give some other foods a chance.”

The popular food market event will return again next November once UTSC’s new fall semester starts.