Home-cooked meals a healthy alternative for many students; fast food can affect energy for some

Not everybody wants fries with that.

Many CMU students are avoiding fast foods and finding that cooking their own food can be a healthy and enjoyable practice.

Rochester junior Jacob Randall cooks almost all of his meals because fast food doesn’t sit well with his palate.

“When I eat fast food, I just feel awful the next day,” Randall said. “When I eat my own food, I feel great all day.”

Livonia senior Gloriann McDonald also cooks most of her meals.

She said she picked up the practice from her childhood.

“I was brought up eating mostly natural and organic foods,” McDonald said. “My mom wouldn’t let us drink pop or have hydrogenated oils even before that was popular.”

Randall said eating affects every aspect of his day. He usually starts with a big breakfast, skips lunch and then finishes the day with a big dinner. He eats mostly organic foods and avoids anything processed.

“I try to avoid as much meat as I can, especially processed meat,” Randall said. “I’m not a vegetarian; I just don’t like processed foods. It grosses me out.”

McDonald has cooked for herself for the past four years. Although she sometimes eats out, she said she prefers to cook because she enjoys it and it allows her to have control over her nutrition.

She said her meals are simple and easy to make.

“At least 75 percent of the produce I eat is frozen,” McDonald said. “If I’m going to do rice or a pasta dish, I just cook a bunch before I head out or I just keep frozen veggies and throw them in a frying pan with oil.”

Both McDonald and Randall have shopped at Green Tree Cooperative Grocery, 214 N. Franklin St. Green Tree sells products that are all natural and organic.

“To be labeled organic, foods have to be certified,” said store keeper Sydne Conant. “Foods can only be labeled if 95 percent is organic.”

Conant said about a quarter of their business is from CMU students. Every Friday is Student Appreciation Day where students receive 5 percent off purchases.

“The last few years I’ve seen a steady increase of students coming in here,” said Joshua Johnson, a Green Tree employee and Central Michigan University alumni.

Johnson said organic foods are healthier because, unlike processed foods, they are not sprayed with harmful chemicals that can hurt not only the environment but also the body.

“Organic should never have even have to be invented,” he said. “Foods were made this way hundreds of years ago.”

“My basic advice is to stay aware and ask questions about where your food comes from, because it does matter.”

-Photographer Victoria Zegler contributed to this report.

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