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Liana Riley is a political science sophomore and Mustang News columnist. These views do not necessarily reflect the opinion or editorial coverage of Mustang News.
“Yes, you sound stupid buying that $10 acai bowl, unable to pronounce maca and pitaya properly.”
“Wait, is it socially acceptable to order coconut water and then throw it out because it tastes like motor oil?”
This was me having an inner dialogue outside The Neighborhood in San Luis Obispo this past week.
I stepped inside cautiously, attempting not to disrupt the delicate balance between being the “earthy chic” and the “I haven’t washed my hair in three days” look the current customers were maintaining.
I received frequent “What are you doing here?” glances from the people in Birkenstocks behind me.
After mulling over the menu, I decided to order the safest option, an acai bowl with granola, strawberries and bananas.
I ate a doughnut immediately after.
Native to South America, the acai berry made its way to the U.S. and gained immediate stardom. Loaded with antioxidants, they are high in fiber and healthy fats. And they’re the stuff of dreams in terms of the ideal breakfast that solves your sweet tooth craving. But the health benefits of these berries have yet to be proved, so it really could be too good to be true.
When Oprah endorsed the superfruit, everyone seemed to worship it like celebrities practicing Kabbalah. They were deemed healthy and delicious, an unheard-of combination that had to be capitalized on by basically every smoothie and frozen yogurt shop.
They were popularized in Los Angeles, and of course everyone’s favorite celebrities pioneered the acai trend.
And now they’re all over Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, igniting the masses with a sudden drive to eat healthily.
Businesses began popping up with the sole purpose of feeding the craze. Soon there was exponential growth of acai, pressed juice and exotic fruit consumption in our popular culture.
It didn’t take long for acai to spread to health-conscious San Luis Obispo, where everyone seems to be lining up for a new hangover cure.
Sociology sophomore Amanda Moore stipulates that part of the appeal in San Luis Obispo is due to our propensity toward fitness.
“San Luis Obispo is so fit, it only makes sense people have started eating them,” she said.
Moore worked at an acai bowl place in her hometown this past summer and feels the benefits of acai are greater than most people know.
“It’s definitely healthy. You get antioxidants and vitamins from them, but I don’t think anyone is necessarily aware of that unless they’ve asked,” she said. “That’s something I’ve noticed, they don’t really advertise what’s in the bowls, which I think they should.”
So maybe people are not fully aware of the benefits they are reaping from eating this soupy substance, or they don’t care as long as it’s been deemed healthy by O Magazine.
I sometimes treat them like a detoxing cure-all. I could be sedentary for a week, and if I ate an acai bowl Sunday morning, I’d be miraculously healthy.
The above anecdote is probably just my warped logic, but I’ve noticed a trend in how a lot of college students eat healthily — they do so sparingly and mostly for show. The drive toward eating healthy is directly correlated with how Instagramable the food is.
You never see anyone eating squash, probably because its aesthetic appeal is nonexistent.
They’re delicious, no doubt about it, but just like sex on TV, the real thing always pales in comparison to the socially saturated version.
Honestly, people, they’re rather mediocre for the steep price and small portions. Or maybe I just like doughnuts too much to ever change my breakfast habits.
Ultimately, I’ll probably keep paying a ridiculous amount of money for fruits I cannot pronounce, and eat them with a side of fries.