Fresh Fruit Anyone?
Wherefore Art Thou Fruit?
During lunch, students were asked to define an apple or any other fruit. While most students are able to scientifically classify the fruits and list their benefits, they are unable to put the knowledge into action. In Simon Fraser University (SFU) Surrey, as shown in Table 1, less than fourteen percent of students eat or drink anything related to fruit and only five percent eat actual fruit. There would be an even smaller percentage for students eating fresh fruit.
Usually students would argue fruit replacements such as fruit bars can provide the same nutrients for a healthy diet. While the replacements do contain the nutrients, the replacement has only a fraction of its original fibers, minerals, vitamins, and phytochemicals (Schardt, 2007).
Because the Canadian Food Guide suggests eight to ten servings for males and seven to eight for females (Health Canada, 2008), multiple quantities of the replacements are required to fulfill the daily nutrient requirements. If there are any “extra” ingredients (ex. Sugar, preservatives) in the replacements, they would accumulate faster in the body allowing a higher chance of overweight and other side effects.
The Oblivious Choice
Although students can see all the benefits of eating fresh fruit, SFU students continue distance themselves away from fruits. After questioning a few students (and myself), the main explanations are the busy lifestyles of students, and the equipment and location of the campus.
Student lifestyle rotates around homework and time. To succeed, anything outside classes must be cut short or sacrificed, and eating fruit seems to be a common sacrifice among students.
Students wake up early to a hasty and compressed morning before racing off to the campus. Especially for the students who live outside Surrey, the need to further minimize the time for breakfast is essential to not miss the bus and/or SkyTrain. Loaded with textbooks and notes, lunch (along with the other meals) is ideally easy-to-make, small, light, and energy providing (ex. sugar, caffeine).
Because fruit can be easily bruised and preparing the fruit requires time, fresh fruit is left out of both breakfast and lunch. Because students can return home quite late, students chose to sleep instead of preparing fruit; so they can be awake during class unaware of the long-term effects of lacking fruit.
Students in SFU Surrey who purchase instead of packing lunch still do not eat fresh fruit in order to be on-time for classes or to study for the extra few minutes in the library. While walking to the supermarket seems like a short amount time shown in Table 2, time is required to:
1. Buy and prepare the fruit
2. Find a place to eat
3. Buy or cook their lunch
4. Eat and return back to classes
For dinnertime, students are least likely to buy fruit to eat because nighttime is used to focus on staying awake. During late study nights, even if there is time to buy fruit, all mall stores are closed. Also, from Saturdays to Tuesdays, the mall closes early at 6:00pm. After 11:00pm, students are reluctant to leave the school even for food especially with the recent gang shootings in Metro Vancouver.
Any Solutions People?
Although the BC government passed the “Healthier Choices in Vending Machines in BC Public Buildings” policy for healthier foods (Ministry of Labour and Citizens' Services, 2007), the students merely bought their junk food from the Surrey Central City Mall instead. With fast food restaurants and junk food companies flooding SFU students with advertisements in the forms of coupons and prizes, the fruit companies cannot compete with their power. As a result, they are unable to expose the benefits of fruits to the students.
One suggestion is to introduce a twenty-four hour student operated “fast” food restaurant similar to the Laddie in SFU Burnaby campus and the “BC Fruit and Veggie Program” (Government of British Columbia, n.d.). Their new restaurant program advertisements include International Tasting Day where students can taste fruits and vegetables from around the world.
With many students going green, organic recycling bins can encourage students to recycle by eating fruits and other organic foods and recycling their organic packaging (ex. The fruit’s peel) and “waste” (ex. seeds).
In table 1, the Simon Fraser Student Society room had the highest percentage for eating fruit. After searching around, the secret was the room had a refrigerator to keep the food fresh. A small refrigerator can be added to each SFU program allowing access to fresh foods, but still protecting the students’ food from theft. There are also knives for cutting food. While most students believe that knives cannot be carried onto campus, four inches or shorter knives can be used to cut fruit (and other food).
While the reasons for lack of fresh fruit are different from the reasons for the lack of other fresh foods, by improving the availability of fresh fruit, the suggestions would improve the freshness of all food in SFU Surrey.
 Freshness is determined by the time difference between the fruit preparation and consumption
 Fibers are used for lowering heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers (Schardt, 2007).
 Phytochemicals are used for preventing diseases (Top Cultures, n.d.).
 Includes washing, peeling, cutting, and packing
Health Canada. (2008, January 7). Canada's Food Guide. Retrieved March 10, 2009, from Health Canada: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/food-guide-aliment/index-eng.php
Ministry of Labour and Citizens' Services. (2007, May 25). Healthier Choices in Vending Machines in B.C. Public Buildings Policy Paper. Retrieved March 11, 2009, from Ministry of Labour and Citizens' Services: www.lcs.gov.bc.ca/HealthierChoices/pdf/CompletePolicy.pdf
Schardt, D. (2007, December). Lost in transition: why real fruits and vegetables beat juices, powders, and purees. Retrieved March 10, 2009, from BNet: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0813/is_10_34/ai_n21148310
Top Cultures. (n.d.). Retrieved March 11, 2009, from Phytochemicals: http://www.phytochemicals.info/