Have you been to the northern student cafeteria lately? If you haven’t, don’t. Wait, why not? Back in 2009, after renovations completely remade the western and northern cafeterias on campus, many heralded a new age in KAIST nutrition. Gone would be the days where bland, stale food forced countless students to flee to the “safer” havens of cup noodles, kimbap, and Burger King. Had that situation remained in place, KAIST may have ended up suffering through a health and obesity crisis.
Now fast forward to present day, March 2011. A shiny new interior greets those old enough to remember how dreary the old façade used to look. Yet the menu seems suspiciously and unwelcomingly familiar. Where was this new renaissance in food quality? One of the most popular members of the food court trio, Ttukbegi, used to be hailed as the one provider of quality food before it recently regressed into a three menu cycle that has become more predictable then the rising of the sun. Something smells amiss here. Perhaps a smell that's tantalizingly edible when one is on an empty stomach and near starvation, but still, it smells amiss.
KAIST isn’t in just an energy crisis. From this vantage point, it appears to be in a nutrition crisis as well. It’s widely accepted and taught that fresh produce is one of the staples of a healthy diet. Strangely, all we get at KAIST is apples at that overpriced sandwich joint, bananas at the convenience stores, and canned fruits (which have zero nutritional value in the first place) at the salad bar. Where are the other fruits - or ever better - carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes and celery sticks we crave when we experience vegetarianism for a day? The closest place these rarities can be procured is the Lotte Mart in Eoeun-dong. According to a quick search on Naver Maps, our only salvation is 1.15 kilometers from the northern cafeteria.
KAIST demands the utmost best from its student body, who toil away daily to create fighter designs, petri dishes of bacteria, electrical circuits, and whatever new form of torture the Industrial Design department can throw at its haggard followers. For these students to remain in their peak conditions, flawless nutrition is a must. It would be short of immoral to require these tasks otherwise.
How do we solve this crisis? First off, allow for other competitive vendors to sell their produce on campus. The very reason this crisis exists is because the established catering companies have a virtual monopoly of each of the three main regions of KAIST"s main campus.
The next step is for stduents to openly express their dissatisfaction with the status quo. Many students tend to silently rebel by eating properly at home or simply mumbling mild profanities, but the time for action has come.
As Patrick Henry may have said had he been a KAIST student: Give me carrots or give me death! I for one, would personally like the former.