At Harvard, Whole-Grain Concerns

Wednesday, March 8, 2006

The food may be good, but is it healthy? Two Harvard University students complain that their school menus don't reflect the advice of the college's eminent nutrition expert, Walter Willett of the School of Public Health.

Sophomores Mark Wagner, 19, of Weston, Conn., and Ben Eisler, 20, of Syosset, N.Y., say dining hall food has too few whole grains, too much trans fat and not enough lean meat.

That's the opposite, they say, of the advice promulgated by Willett, a well-known author and chairman of the nutrition department.

Jami Snyder, spokeswoman for Harvard's dining services, says her department works closely with Willett on menus. Cooks have changed many products to ones that are trans fat-free and added multigrain waffles and breads at breakfast. A hot, whole-grain dish introduced at lunch, however, has not been very popular, she said.

"We can offer dishes like quinoa and brown rice, but we can't be dogmatic about it. Students want choices. Popcorn chicken, which is not trans fat-free, is one of the most popular things we serve. The kids can't get enough of it."

-- Candy Sagon

© 2006 The Washington Post Company