What’s in your brown bag?

Many people at my workplace pack their lunches – maybe because they are healthy Vancouverites, or maybe because the only nearby choice is the hospital cafeteria. Nevertheless, what they eat and their eating habits are very interesting. To me, lunch reveals just how much (or how little) people care about what they eat. It’s the meal that can very easily go ignored – but not if you really love food (at least not consistently). I’ve developed a habit of sneaking peeks at people’s lunch: Some people pack half their kitchen. Some survive only on chocolate. Or cookies. Some do variations on a sandwich. Some obviously have (too much) take out for dinner, every night. Some eat the same combination of cheese, crackers, carrot sticks, and the same piece of fruit, every single day. Maybe carrot sticks are really good. For me though, lunch is something I try to spend a bit of effort on the night before, even if it’s making sure that whatever left overs I pack from the fridge go well together. It is a meal I look forward to in the morning, and makes me feel satisfied in the afternoon. So a crappy lunch can potentially ruin my entire day. A few days here and there are forgivable, but I’m always a bit amazed that people can skimp on lunch, eat something gross, or eat the exact same things, day after day. Below are some of the trends I have noticed.

Popular lunch-styles in research:

24/7 Lab Rat: Something in a paper cup that you add hot water to and say “presto!”/ Coffee with 10 shots of espresso, triple cream and sugar / eaten in the hallway, in the middle of an experiment 

Grad Student: Two slices of left over pizza (still in the box)/ Somebody else’s expired yogurt in the fridge/ Repeat, 3 days straight/ Else, steal.

Yoga-loving: Couscous with chicken breast/ Whole grain toast and low-fat cream cheese, tomato salad/ Comments on how unhealthy your croissant is

Administration: Something warm, in nice ceramic-ware/ Aroma of some foreign, European country

On exchange from Japan: Self-packed bento box, complete with built-in chopsticks/ Wrapped in pretty blue fabric

Vancouver-newbie, fresh from the boonies: Sushi from Safeway/ Actually enjoying it

Assistant Professor: TV dinner (bought in bulk when on sale)

Associate Professor: Sandwich from the hospital cafeteria

Institute director:  “No, I don’t need to brown bag that left-over steak, just get me another glass of Pinot noir.”


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