Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

To EAT or Not to Eat…

September 12, 2010 · 6 Comments

              I’ve always been a moderately healthy eater. I try to stay clear of junk and fast food as much as possible. However, leading a healthy lifestyle can put quite a dent in your pockets in the states, especially if you don’t have the time to cook. This is the exact reason why so many people in the U.S. don’t eat as healthy as they should, especially in big cities and urban communities. In a fast pace environment, convenience plays a big role in deciding what to eat for lunch; basically whatever is prepared to grab and go. For example, this summer I worked on Fifth Avenue in New York City, which is always bustling with people no matter what day of the week it is. The allotted time for my lunch period ranged from thirty to forty five minutes, which sounds like a decent amount of time but by the time I made my way through the swarms of people on the streets, waited in line and ordered my food, and then hustled back to the break room, I barely had fifteen minutes left to actually eat my lunch. For the first couple of weeks, I would get lunch from PAX Wholesome Foods, which serves healthy sandwiches, drinks and other snacks. A small sandwich would run me about seven to eight dollars, and then I would have to buy a drink and sometimes fruit. I would end up spending around thirteen to fourteen dollars and would end up being not being completely satisfied taste-wise and hungry again in an hour or two. Once I began to calculate how much money I was spending on food, plus transportation to work all week, I realized I was spending almost half of a weeks’ paycheck. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do anything about the price of transportation, so I had to cut down on how much I was spending on food, which led to the occasional trips to McDonalds (yuck!).

              Once in England, it wasn’t as difficult to eat healthy on the go. I have never consumed so many sandwiches in the course of two weeks. There are a number of healthy outlets scattered throughout London. A couple of us have designated the chain EAT: The Real Food Company, as our favorite lunch spot. EAT would be the slight equivalent to the PAX chain that I mentioned before, except richer in variety and quality, and more accessible with locations everywhere! Dedicated to fresh food, all of EAT’s sandwiches are handmade daily and baguettes are baked every morning, which PAX didn’t do.  The sandwiches vary between 3 to 5 pounds, depending on content, and taste really good! It would be impossible to find a place in NYC that freshly prepared food daily and was this affordable.  Planet Organic is also another venue that has captured my heart and taste buds. It’s quick, affordable and sooo delicious (it deserves the extra o’s). My favorite lunch, which is a filling serving of their mixed vegetable soup with complementary bread and butter and a 1.5L of water and sometimes a blueberry muffin, runs me less than five pounds. I’ve never been supermarket shopping, but from what I’ve heard there are also healthy and reasonably priced items as well. I feel that here in London the money that I spend on food goes a much longer way than it does back in New York. I am able to eat right and still have money left for dessert!

Categories: 2010 Melissa · Uncategorized
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6 responses so far ↓

  •   hatzopod // Sep 12th 2010 at 21:44

    I was going to, and probably still will, write a blog about how even though there is all this healthy food around me, I still crave and give in to the greasy stuff. I am not only talking pub food, but I frequent the KFC on Tottenham Court Road. I have been to McDonalds and Burger King too. I find that the healthy sandwiches here are not just healthy, but pretty bland and unsatisfying. However, I am eating a little bit better because the healthier food is everywhere and in my face.

  •   maryc // Sep 13th 2010 at 04:49

    In response to both you, Melissa, and David, I agree with you. Haha, perhaps it’s because I don’t feel David’s pain in craving fast food, but I have appreciated the selection of this fast food here in London. I think instead of a quickly expanding global franchise of McDonalds, places throughout the world should adopt such fast food places as EAT, Pret-a-Manger, and Planet Organic. The prices are great and I personally agree that the food is delicious! Yes, they’re simple sandwiches and salads, but I think they’re rather tasty, especially for the price I pay.

  •   hollymb // Sep 14th 2010 at 08:30

    I agree with Melissa and Mary, sorry David. I think that the emphasis on healthier food chains also extends to the grocery stores–there is much less frozen produce than it’s customary to find in the States. I wanted to buy frozen broccoli one night, but there was only one shelf of frozen vegetables in Sainsbury’s, and that was entirely dedicated to peas. We had to buy fresh vegetables. Things here also seem to come in smaller packages and servings, instead of the “supersized” American portion size. I think this is great because I’ve seen that I really don’t need to eat as much as I do at home and it encourages people to buy fresh food more frequently.
    On the other hand, though, I’ve had trouble finding fruit and veggies on restaurant menus, especially in pubs (beyond mushy peas, anyway). Pub food is so good, but I always feel like I should go for a run after I eat at a pub. I wonder if the emphasis on healthier foods will ever extend to pub faire?

  •   guya // Sep 14th 2010 at 15:17

    Another positive aspect of places like EAT and Pret are their humanitarian causes. Both places claim to give all leftovers to the poor, and tout different social causes throughout their establishments. I would be hard pressed to find a McDonald’s or KFC, which are not as prevalent here, emphasizing such causes. I don’t know how large an impact this advertising has on either EAT or Pret’s business, but it is certainly something I have noticed.

  •   kaitlin // Sep 14th 2010 at 18:49

    This is something I’ve loved about London too! There is so much more variety for a healthy grab and go lunch.

    I think the fact that Pret and EAT, as well as many grocery stores have sandwiches, bread, and pastries, made daily and sold individually also signals a slower pace of life than we have in America. The British don’t seem to feel the need to buy food in bulk (enough to last the whole school year) like we do. They seem more content to visit the store and make decisions about what to eat on a daily basis.

  •   Elizabeth Barr // Sep 19th 2010 at 07:48

    I’m right there with you, Mel! Pretty much all of my lunches and the dinners which I don’t eat out at pubs and the like have come from Planet Organics or EAT. Coming from Southern California, I am used to having lots of healthy options, but you have to pay premium for them, whereas here eating right is financially viable. I say, BRAVO London!

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