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Rumbling stomachs are a sign of the times at the Dining Commons

The Dining Commons are economizing. Administrative master chefs spent the summer cooking up and rolling out new energy and cost efficient policies for the fiscal year 2010; and as a result, DC hamburgers are helplessly shrinking to the sizes of quarters, and four-plate, three-drink eaters must cope with life as a tray-less, balancing existence.

But are there are more changes baking in the oven?

Although our generation and the one which governs us tugs slowly toward a  healthy, Green approach to campus dining, I almost shudder to imagine how the University of Massachusetts Amherst might try and trump its cookery in coming decades. At this point, who could claim astonishment at the said “master chefs of administration”, whose pots of policy and food experiments are ceaselessly on the boil? What further plans aim to churn out students of sounder mind and stomach?

Keep your eyes peeled for mysterious trucks and little men in jumpsuits: Oompa Loompa’s, Swashbuzzlers and vicious Knids may be lurking in here yet.

Much to our chagrin, most changes in state colleges, most of all in dining, are rooted in some sort of economical convenience. While higher-ups may term certain changes “Green friendly,” or whatever else, let’s not beat around the bush. Even though some changes mark positive progress, there is often a degree of marketing trickery; and what we are sold on is often something quite else.

Let’s review a couple of past attempts by other institutions’ dining programs, per example.

Take the 70s Cinna-bus: a creation once hailed as the future’s economically brilliant connection between both school and gruel; and yet, a perfectly delicious complement to any students’ plate. At once a cinnamon bun and a syllabus, it’s frosted crown of melted sonnets and chopped pecans made this savory a favorite among struggling English students.

But it doesn’t end there.

Take your average plate of scrambled eggs. Flip it upside-down, pepper it with vodka and a few wisps of beard or mustache (whichever you prefer), and there you’ve got it: Eggs-Essential. Once a popular dish in Soviet institutions of the late 50s, it has now fallen in competition to the latest food craze, Putin-Pudding.

The point is this: who knows what the fate of our own campus food shall be in this ever changing world of economy and social food-ism. Science has not yet guaranteed that the DC’s healthy and veggie foods are even safe for a homo sapiens to digest.

I believe the “Green friendly” approach to cooking healthier foods, coupled with indigestion, could, over an indefinite period of time, dictate an eventual evolution of our species. A species which would no longer thrive on slathered bagels and cheese fries, but on almond butter and tofurkey alone; and what a most frightening reality that would be.

If nothing else, think of the complications involved with forgoing meat in mass dining: the numbers of sheep and chickens which would run unchecked, which could break out from the Hampshire college hen houses and pens; unused cows who could storm the factory gates of meat farms and stampede the roadways.

Yet thank heavens, like evolution, our beloved DC’s change little from one semester to another. What some would analogize as the primitive “Neanderthal hair” of our beefy menu, I call the last frontier of a once prosperous and necessary industry. What nobler vision could be than mountains of saucy “ribwiches” and buffalo chicken wraps sprawling over steamy steel dishes like the steppes of Patagonia? Or pizza slices revolving like silent sausage bespattered moons under the warm auspices of cafeteria gods?

Thank heavens that campus wide, students can still enjoy a well balanced meal of pasta a la sauce barbecue and chocolate ice cream with extra-jimmies. I recently met one student who was so bold as to have dessert before dinner because the lines for entrees were too long. You see, the current combinations are endless and there are no policies prohibiting indulgence.   

And we can see retaliatory strikes to this Green craze mounting and even rooting themselves abroad. A former student situated in Cairo wrote a most compelling and passionate condemnation of the local cuisine. Yes, it was a heartfelt plea, a reaching out and a desire for the plastic gloved hand of that which is known as “buffet dining.”

So next time you look at those sad, shrinking hamburgers wallowing at the pan’s bottom, do not think upon days of yore when hamburgers were normal size. No. As we UMass students endorse the melodious phrase in times of uncertainty, “Let’s do it for our country,” I say, “Let’s eat it for our country.” Because face it: our country wants us to.

Evan Haddad is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at ehaddad@student.umass.edu.

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