Bugs in Eickhoff highlight many problems with Sodexho

As an individual who is passionate about good food and nutrition, I was deeply disturbed by last week’s Signal article regarding the bugs that were found in the broccoli served at Eickhoff Hall.

Fortunately, I have never found any bugs in my food at Eickhoff, but I have had other experiences that demonstrate the obvious lack of care Sodexho workers put into preparing our meals.

One time, I found the produce sticker still stuck onto a chunk of bell pepper in a cooked dish. Even though the sticker should clearly have been removed before washing the pepper, this failed to happen and it failed again when whoever chopped the vegetable and put it in a pan to cook ignored the sticker further. Perhaps the pepper wasn’t washed at all?

Another example of carelessness occurred when I found pieces of chicken in my marinara sauce that was supposed to be meatless. There was no label that the sauce contained chicken, and as a vegan, I found this frustrating and upsetting.

In the article, John Higgins, the manager of Sodexho Dining Services, explained that “having insects in the produce would be one of the issues that come with purchasing produce from small farms.”

With this statement, Higgins is merely attempting to deflect the blame from his own incapable employees that prepare the food in Eickhoff.

Anyone knows that when produce is purchased, no matter if it is organic or conventional, or whether it comes from a local farmer’s market or ShopRite, that the produce must be carefully washed. With conventional produce, the fruits and vegetables need to be washed clean of harmful pesticides.

With organic produce, the fruits and vegetables need to be washed of natural soil, grit and bugs. Either way, however, there will always be some sort of residue on the produce, and it must be washed. Further, the washing is not the responsibility of the farmer, but that of those preparing the food.

Higgins said that this year, Sodexho has made a “significant shift in produce purchasing.”

While everyone has noticed the ridiculous, fake farm stand near where the trays are located, this area is stocked largely with produce that is completely useless.

What are students supposed to do with a raw eggplant or an ear of corn? Displaying the food this way instead of using it is an incredible waste and is completely antithetical to any notion of sustainability.

These new produce offerings largely seem like a token gesture; things might look a little different in Eickhoff, but the quality of the food is exactly the same.

Even the produce that is supposed to be edible in a raw state, like bananas, plums or apples, is often inedible. The bananas and plums are often completely under-ripe and the apples are often mealy.

Later in the article, a horticulturalist named Barbara Bromley is consulted, explaining that “It’s easy for insects not to be rinsed off or steamed off in the cooking process.”

As an avid cook and frequent restaurant-goer, I find it difficult to make sense of this statement.

Whenever I cook food, it is bug-free, because I take the care to wash my produce. In fact, I have never eaten insect-ridden food at home or at anyone else’s home.

What’s more, imagine the reaction a person would have if he or she went to a restaurant, had bugs in his or her dish and was simply told that this sort of thing happens all the time and that sometimes it’s just too hard to get the bugs out!

Bromley also makes the statement that “(eating bugs) doesn’t hurt you, it more hurts your psyche.” This is a sensible thing to say. While I’d probably be physically fine accidentally eating a couple of bugs now and then, there’s no doubt that I find the idea disgusting.

The fact that the College forces students to pay upwards of $1,000 to Sodexho each semester for food that is carelessly prepared and bug-ridden is infuriating.

Almost everyone on campus can agree that the food served in Eickhoff is really, really bad, not to mention unhealthy and unsatisfying.

If John Higgins and the College want to force students to pay for this food, the least they could do is make sure it is bug-free.

Marygrace Stergakos

Letter about Trenton stereotypes non-residents

Last week’s criticism of the perpetuation of stereotypes about Trenton ironically perpetuates stereotypes about non-Trenton residents.

As someone who was born and raised outside of Trenton, I find last week’s letter regarding Signal editorials to be characteristic of insiders of the city.

Matt Luther