Boulder is a mecca for all things organic, vegan, fair trade, free trade, gluten-free, lactose-free, nut-free, soy-free and anything else you can think of. In short, Boulder is a city full of healthy, environmentally friendly, allergy-conscious, ethical eaters. But what happens when the dietary needs of a college student clash with Boulder’s health-nut food scene?
Being a college student and eating healthy, green and organic don’t always go hand in hand. For one, organic food is generally much more expensive. Living the mostly humble college lifestyle that we do, it is hard to justify buying an organic loaf of bread for $5, when we could buy four or five boxes of macaroni and cheese for the same price.
Plus, we’re college students — we’re young, meaning that we still have growing left to do, and the healthy appetite to prove it. Sometimes you have a craving. Sometimes you just want to eat a burrito without being judged by the old hippie, gnawing on a flax seed and buckwheat bar, next to you.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to avoid the all-too-common Boulder girl problem of getting bogged down in Boulder food politics. Believe it or not, it is, in fact, possible to eat cheap, eat well and avoid the judging eyes of Boulder food snobs at the same time.
Eat local. A big deterrent to buying organic food is price. Organic food tends to be more labor-intensive in production, which equals a higher price at the grocery store. But in Boulder, a little extra searching can go a long way. A great place to dodge high food prices is the Boulder Farmer’s Market. During the summer and fall, you can buy seasonal produce, that is not only locally grown, but certified organic and reasonably priced. Plus, you can make up all the money you spend in free samples. Sounds like a win-win for you.
Explore new eats. Sure, Boulderites can be food snobs, but it’s not always without good reason. Besides being better for both you and the planet, organic food more often than not tastes better because it is not processed with additives that, despite best efforts, I can’t pronounce.
Like I mentioned before, Boulder is a food mecca. Don’t be put off by new foods just because of their appearance or ingredients. A few months ago I tried a fermented tea, home-brewed kombucha for the first time. The tea is less than appetizing in appearance: it’s a brownish liquid with a large, rubbery mass floating on the top, which is the kombucha culture — similar to the types of active bacteria you find in yogurt. And despite its unappealing aesthetics, it has a refreshing (albeit strong) taste and is a raw, organic product
Few of us have a strong urge to eat a “burger” made out of bean sprouts and brown rice just because some old guy with long hair and a tie-dye T-shirt on Pearl Street tells you it’s going to save the world. But Boulder has a lot of restaurant options when it comes to organic food, so explore them. Try Julia’s Kitchen in North Boulder, which has great gluten-free options for your wheat-weary friends. Pass up a Cosmo’s slice some Friday night, and try out a Modmarket pizza instead.
Taste matters. Eating healthier and going green when it comes to your food choices doesn’t require sacrificing the foods you love. Eating organic food doesn’t mean replacing your bowl of Cheerios for a green algae and chia seed shake every morning. Likewise, if you’re a total junkie for potato chips, then keep on keepin’ on. Eat the foods you love, and satisfy food cravings when you have them. Remember, metabolism just keeps getting slower from here on out, so take advantage while you can.
From one Boulder girl to another, the best advice I can offer is to embrace Boulder’s new-age, hipster food culture. You live in Boulder, which means that deep down, you probably have a streak of hippie-dippie gene in you. Learn to love it. And like, don’t try to deny it, man. There’s no shame in becoming the granola-eating, green tea-guzzling, peace-and-love girl that the rest of the world thinks you are anyway. Don’t give up all the foods you love just to fit in, but make an effort to be conscious of what you eat.
Contact CU Independent Opinion Editor Taryne Tosetti at Taryne.firstname.lastname@example.org.