Super foods? Super skint.

A couple of wee pieces I wrote on the conundrum of being healthy with the ever-present money constraints of your average student. The first a comment style piece and the second more news-y..

You’re Mackereling me skint. 

Wondering round Stockbridge Farmer’s Market I was met by a table of silky looking chanterelles, fat bunches of coriander, plump little blackberries, and a debate about student nutrition. A blackboard brightly inviting to ‘ask about our vegetable box delivery’ would trigger cynicism in even the most enthusiastic of students. Being able to afford a fruit and veg box conjures the same fantasy of having one of those delightful, brown, cardboard ‘graze’ boxes dropped through my letter box every week.

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‘To be honest, all I want is some walnut bread and some brie’. Middle class problems, or quite a poignant voice which most students can associate with. A survey done recently in Edinburgh showed that every student who was asked wished they could afford decent cheese. If mum knew that Robbie was eating toast with Farm-foods plastic slices would her heart not shatter a little?

The problems didn’t only linger with the cheese course. ‘I try live off £10 a week because I like to have money to go out as well. Being a vegetarian helps but I rarely get to enjoy proper fruit and veg.’

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I know that organic, local produce is best. Not one celebrity chef, health expert or politician would disagree. As I left the market with the smell of succulent strawberries and just baked rye bread I thought that it would be nice to come home from the expected 35 hours of study a week, plus the 37 hour ‘part time’ job which we aren’t supposed to have, to a nutritious two veg, one meat dinner without thinking, but alas as long as a tuna steak costs £5.03 and an every day value cottage pie costs 95 pence I know what i’ll be heating up tonight.

Are we starving our students brains? 

A survey conducted on a selection of students studying in the City of Edinburgh has found that 100% sacrifice healthy food because of cost.

In recent years, huge amount of research has gone into nutrition and the effect it has on our brain function. It’s fully acknowledged how positive an impact a nourishing diet can have, particularly for growing, working brains.

A range of students were asked a selection of questions regarding their weekly spend, and this was then compared with the typical ‘brain foods’ we’re advised to eat. Oily fish, pumpkin seeds, blueberries, avocados, dark chocolate and whole-grains are the super six which consistently come out top in power lists. The UK’s leading supermarket prices for these being; £4 for two salmon fillets, £1.75 a packet of pumpkin seeds, £3 per punnet of blueberries, £1.25 a large avocado, upwards of £1.50 for a bar of quality chocolate and a loaf of wholegrain bread, £1.49. With an average weekly budget of £20, super-foods are definitely off the menu. The energy these foods combined provide around 4000 calories, sustaining the average adult for 2 days. Two packets of every day value cereal would do the same, and comes in at a whopping £1.54. Image

Students expressed that they actively scrimped on foods they knew were beneficial, but that the stress of being continuously reminded that this was detrimental to their health was overwhelming.

Isla Macleod, 19, studying Animal Biology said ‘People say wholegrain is better but every day value white bread is half the price. I just don’t feel I have a choice.’

With pressure on this generation of students already at it’s peak is there an alternative to the Catch 22 we’re plunging them into?

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