There’s a very strong memory from my first year in university of opening one of the cupboard doors of the common kitchen area I shared with three other girls and peeking inside. Feet firmly planted on the gray speckled linoleum tile floor, a few growing dust balls hiding in those tricky corners between the bottom of the cupboards and the wall. It was my allotted food space, the place to hold the sustenance I dragged from the mega grocery store an LRT ride away. We were seven stories up, perched on the highest floor—you bet I took the elevator when I came home, hands worn raw and red from carrying the achingly heavy green plastic bags.
Inside the cupboard was a cornucopia that would make any doomsday conspiracy theorist or suburban mom proud: box after box and package after package of prepared foods.
To hold off the stomach grumbles during Intro to Poli Sci, where our unintentionally amusing and easily excitable German professor Achim held court, there were little cups of flavoured Mott’s applesauce, no-name sugar-loaded granola bars in every flavour you could imagine, Nutrigrain bars out the wazoo—in strawberry only, you heathens—and at least two packages of chocolate chip cookies, brittle from age but deliciously uniform.
Next to the snacks were the meal ‘enhancers’ like a dozen boxes of mac n’ cheese with vibrant blue packaging, cans of tomato alphabet soup, packages of seasoned microwavable rice and a squat jar of nacho cheese.
The fridge and freezer, only two paces away in our tiny kitchen and common area, held the joys of half a dozen Lean Cuisines, frozen trays of store-brand lasagna and macaroni and cheese, fun mini yogurts in dessert-like flavours and an assortment of half-opened salad dressing bottles.
And apples. Always a few waxy, bruised apples that tasted like beeswax and dryer lint combined, which was quite the impressive feat for something that apparently grew on a tree once.
Those are the foods I ate throughout my first, second and third years at university while living in residence—I know, I know, why I did that still baffles me—filled in with trips to the cafeteria, Tim Hortons, Pizza Pizza and Subway. (Fourth year was better. But just barely.)
Scared yet? Sound familiar? Unless you had a delightfully hippy and/or nutritionally educated upbringing, it might….