Rally up the deep-fryers

Column by Hallie Beard, Opinion Editor

Hallie Beard

Murray State thrives on fast food.

Think about it: have you ever seen the drive-thru lines at McDonald’s or Cookout shorter than five cars? If you have, you must be out at a peculiar time of day or night.

We all know how it goes – when we get sick of Winslow Dining Hall or are fed up with Fast Track sushi, suddenly a run by Taco Bell or Wendy’s sounds like a brilliant alternative. Sure, maybe these runs happen a bit too often, but that’s what college is for, right? Gaining that Freshman 15 and then adding a few pounds to it each subsequent year and never losing it?

Maybe I’m in the minority here, but I know my eating habits have gone to the dogs since starting college. At home, we’ve got the time to lavishly prepare healthy meals with ingredients from Trader Joe’s or go out to normal, sit-down restaurants. But here, cooking is a chore of monumental proportions and going to a sit-down meal with someone is practically a marriage proposal.

It’s sad but true: college dining is as messy as Doritos Locos Tacos.

So, what two restaurants should we bring to the healthy city of Murray as a double whammy? What picks would really scream, “we’re trying”?

Arby’s and Rally’s, of course!

By now, you’ve probably heard we’re getting the fast food duo in spring 2017. From what I’ve seen on social media, Murray State students are pretty floored. Just when we were tiring of the classic Cookout tray, another grease chain comes to save the day.

Look, I’m not trying to pass judgment – I’ll certainly be there on opening day for a beef n’ cheddar and those delicious orange and well-peppered french fries – but I’m struggling to find a good reason why we really need another fast food place in this small town.

I was heartbroken when Mary’s Kitchen (later Mary’s Bistro) closed, and I’d be ready for the grave if Gloria’s (now Willow Bistro) or Mr. J’s shut down. We’ve got some good independent eats here with character and the small, local flair every college town yearns for. So, why must we add another corporate money machine that churns out body-destroying combo meals when we could work on supporting local businesses instead?

There are probably loads of Buzzfeed articles about college students being fat and lazy, but we can’t take all the blame when we’re groomed to fail. Between expensive university costs, busy schedules and often poor judgment, do people really think we have the means and motivation to go grocery shopping and prepare healthy meals? Sure, all of us have that choice to make, but when the city offers us an abundance of quick and cheap options that just happen to be less than nutritious for us, the decision becomes a lot easier.

I’ll be graduating and leaving Murray in May, but if I were a freshman again, I’d be frustrated – as I already was back then – about the questionable food choices we have as students here. If the Thoroughbred Room and Winslow are going to continue to serve greasy, fatty foods with a side of funky salad bar, we should at least be able to find diverse and nutritious options off campus and ones that won’t break the bank.

In addition to general health concerns, adding more American fast food restaurants doesn’t exactly send a message of cultural inclusion. Students who have dietary restrictions based in cultural identity – or even American vegetarians – probably have a difficult time as it is finding new ways to put dinner on the table. But that’s OK – we’re just the home of Kentucky Fried Chicken, right?