Last year, Stanford Dining began publishing the menus and nutritional information of their dining halls on its website. Since I ate in Branner and Wilbur dining halls exclusively, reading the nutritional information of the foods Stanford Dining requires all dorm dwellers to purchase made me rather queasy. Each entree offered often approached 600 calories, and sometimes more. After totaling the calories and fat consumed during my average dining hall meal, I started substituting salads and cereal, resenting the fact that I was required to pay $10 each dinner to eat Raisin Bran.
I moved into a co-op this year and I thought my connection to Stanford Dining would be minimal, limited only to eating occasionally at Tressider, the Axe & Palm and Olives. After reading the Daily article about the Axe & Palm’s plans to renovate their menu with fresher alternatives, I wanted to look and see how healthy their menu truly is. After all, apart from the lack of vegetarian options, many of their salads, sandwiches, and breakfast items sound reasonably healthy and “Californian”.
Looking at the nutritional chart was surprising. The Turkey Pesto Melt is deceptively over 750 calories and provides all of the protein you need in a day. A California Cobb Salad is 905 calories. Even not-completely-healthy menu items seem exorbitantly caloric. The Chicken Quesadillas are over 700 calories as well. The 50-50 Onion Rings and Fries Combo is reported to be over 1300 calories.
These food items, teamed with the many sweet offerings in the 400-800 calorie range, make a chain like Subway much more appealing. It’s possible that the caloric analysis of the Axe & Palm may not be completely accurate, but if this is the case, how can we be sure what truly is healthy?
What implications does this have for the students required to eat central to the Quad for classes? Is Stanford Dining irresponsible for offering such unhealthy food in the first place? Could this have implications for those with restrictive eating, or provoke this behavior in others by providing a sense that there is no such thing as a healthy meal at Stanford?