The Bluest Day of the year is over. We’re cruising into February without once having scary windchill. The days really are getting longer. All the things we wished were open and available this time last year, are here and poppin’. It’s the small things, Montreal; don’t forget to count them.
Did you say intestine?
MAI (Montreal, Arts interculturel) always has interesting offerings, and Rock Bottom is no exception. The multidisciplinary piece explores what happens to the body when we hit our own rock bottom. It’s billed as “a movement performance that forms an intestine with the gut feelings of Emile Pineault (choreographer, performer) and (author) Gabriel Cholette”.
Rock Bottom @ MAI 3680 rue Jeanne-Mance, January 25-28, Showtime is 7:30 p.m.. Tickets availabe through the MAI website
Jazz exists all year round, you know…
Double bass player Ira Coleman interprets jazz compositions and traditional Mandinka (Senegalese, Gambian, and Sierra Leonean) themes supported by flute, piano, and balafon, exploring where they overlap.
Ticket prices vary, but if you’re under 34 or under, it’s 18 bucks, so do something classy on the cheap.
Jazz and Mandinka Music @ Bourgie Hall, 1339 Sherbrooke Street West, on Thursday, January 26, Show at 6pm. Tickets and info on the MMFA website
Pretty sure I saw him live in the 90s?!
Jon Spencer & the HITmakers are in town this weekend, and if you’re old enough to ask if I mean that Jon Spencer, then yes. Jon Spencer & the Blues Explosion broke up in 2016, but the beat goes on, and Jon Spencer & the HITmakers put out their first album in 2022. His Spotify bio calls him “an elder statesman of noise rock and punk blues”, and while that’s niche af, he might be right.
Jon Spencer & the HITmakers @ Bar Le Ritz PBD, 179 Jean-Talon Ouest, Friday, January 27, Doors at 7:30, Show at 8:30. Info & Tix
Dinner and a show!
Catch me putting on a summer dress and having foodgasms at Molotov Cuisine owner Fiona Genevieve (aka Chef Molotov)’s Jardin d’Hiver this Sunday. She’s a fab chick with wholesome, delicious food, and she’ll be bringing summer vibes right when we need them.
Darragh Mondoux will be Mistress of Ceremonies, Mina Minou will be shaking what God gave her, and there will be musical performances by Lea Keeley, and KOLA.
It’s the first real snow, and Montreal is moving slowly. It’s not cold out, but as every Canadian knows, winter is more complicated than temperature.
Walking along sidewalks is ever shifting all terrain trek, metro platforms are slippery with puddles, and the snow just keeps falling. All anyone can talk about is the weather, and I made it through the whole day without hearing a single word about the fact that it’s Friday the 13th.
I trudge through, grateful that it’s just a few more steps to my destination.
I’ve never interviewed a stranger in their home before, and I’ve certainly never been promised a professionally cooked bite to eat on a gig. Stepping into chef and entrepreneur Fiona Genevieve’s home is a warm and welcoming relief from reality; I already smell something delicious that I can’t put my finger on.
The founder of Molotov Cuisine is back in Montreal for a while (or longer) from the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia where she moved during the lockdown.
She’s lived in a lot of places — Ukraine, Russia, China — a journey that’s influenced her palate, contributed to her disdain for food waste, and led her to fermentation.
“Everyone that I met there, they were doing that already. And everything I ate there was fermented; I’m like, how do you get this flavour? And also, I started to garden a bit and I’m like, I don’t want this to just die away and like for me not to use it…I don’t want to toss things away because food waste is shit and awful, so I decided: dehydration, pickling, chutneys, all that.”
Fiona’s garden is growing well in Nova Scotia, as is her network. She’s met local farmers, allowing her to work within a pristine supply chain as she caters, hosts pop-ups, and teaching workshops. This month she’s holding first Montreal event at Turbo Haüs, a one night pop-up called Jardin d’Hiver.
While we chat she serves up one of the dishes from that menu, roasted carrots coated in apricot chamoy with mint and almonds. To call it basic would be an injustice: the flavours are complex — earthy and bright at the same time — the presentation beautiful.
The word I’m looking for is something like fundamental, arcane, wholesome, ancestral. It’s the kind of food that fills you with more than calories, and I could live here, eating this forever while we chat and laugh in her kitchen. This is food for the soul, and the outside with all its weather disappears.
Bringing warmth to winter and balancing the blues is exactly her intention with Jardin d’Hiver.
“I’m trying to take the essence of summer, through preservation and fermentation, and bring those flavours into dishes now, mixed with the winter local stuff I can get…definitely the flower vibe, just the essence, the effervescence…Very summery, very tropical. We’re going to have the heat on. I want you to sweat a little bit when you eat my food.”
And while Fiona’s food could carry the evening by itself, the event is dinner and show, with Darragh Mondoux as Mistress of Ceremonies, Lea Keeley singing her soulful tunes, and Mina Minou performing burlesque.
“It’s going to be amazing; just eye candy, food candy; all the senses are going to be involved.”
Tables are selling fast, which is great; hopefully the response will encourage her to stay in town, host more delicious evenings, and teach some workshops. While we all had our proverbial come to Jesus moment about the importance of food during lockdown, we seem to have forgotten just as quickly.
Fiona’s quick to point out how accessible this all is. She has a mental library of hacks to avoid waste, and elevate ingredients, the kind of kitchen witch alchemy that used to be second nature to us.
“I think it’s honestly magickal,” she says, and I agree with my mouth full.
Featured Image by Daniel Groleau
Chef Molotov’s Jardin d’Hiver takes place Saturday, January 29th at Turbo Haüs, 2040 Saint Denis St. Cocktails at 6:30pm, Tasting & Performances at 7pm. Tickets and more info via Eventbrite
When I walk into my local major chain grocery store, one of the first fridges I see is filled with bright, fun cans, chock full of sugar and alcohol. One in particular looks just like those red, white, and blue rocket popsicles, and hits me in the nostalgia.
They share the fridge with rows of stylized kombuchas, beckoning to shoppers in an all ages space to take their pick. You can also buy cigs there of course, tucked out of sight these days, but like an old timey speak easy, say the right words and show the right ID, and they open the secret doors. This feels normal now, though I’m old enough to remember when smokes were not only proudly displayed at pharmacy check-outs, but also sponsored just about all our noteworthy festivals.
We embrace vice in Montreal. We embrace it because we believe in joie de vivre and personal freedoms. We love the caché that sexy trinity gives us, and in normal times, we love the tourist dollars that come with it. From our drinking age, to our legal contact dances, Montreal is a haven for adult entertainment in the broadest sense of the term.
That’s why it seems so weird that e-cigarettes are slated to come under stricter regulations. Quebec is moving to limit nicotine content in cartridges and liquids to 20%, while also banning flavors. This means that adults will only be able to choose between flavorless, menthol, or tobacco flavored, to pair with their hard root beer.
Before the pandemic, the news was briefly filled with teenagers getting sick from what turned out to be black market THC and CBD vapes made with vitamin E, and who knows what else. While broken telephone caused panic about adults smoking regulated nicotine products, it also seems to have contributed to Quebec’s decision to ban THC and CBD vape products moving forward while other provinces allow them.
During the lockdown, vape shops were considered non-essential. They are the exclusive retailers of e-liquid, refillable vape pens, empty pods, and various bits so you can keep your vape up and running. They often have custom flavors and products that set them apart from each other, creating niche markets.
While plenty of small businesses in the same boat were able to mitigate some of their losses by moving to online platforms or curb-side pickups, vape shops weren’t allowed to do either. In fact, under Quebec law, vape shops can’t sell their wares online, leaving small shops out in the cold, and vapers to find their own alternatives, likely driving money to other provinces or countries.
One small loophole remained: deps continued to sell a limited selection of popular, self contained pod products, and the e-cigarettes associated with them. They had Juul products, and Vuse (previously Vype). Both are relatively pricier options per milliliter, but I dusted off my Juul, and used it until I got sick of it, bought a Vuse, and then paid more than I used to for cigarettes until restrictions eased.
I wondered why these were available. Big box stores had sections closed off in an attempt to even the field, and while I was grateful to be vaping, I couldn’t help but wonder why there seemed to be some favoritism in play on vapes.
A quick search, and I found that the Altria Group (formerly Philip Morris) owns a 35% share of Juul. They already make multiple tobacco flavors including Virginia, Golden, and Classic. Even more fun, our former Health Minister Rona Ambrose joined the Juul board of directors in spring of 2020.
This gave me giggles because in 2014, in her position as Health Minister, she was quite concerned about vapes, flavors, et al, and called for further research. At the time, she said:
“Currently, without scientific evidence demonstrating safety or effectiveness, we continue to urge Canadians against the use of these e-cigarettes. We have heard that e-cigarettes may be a gateway for teens to begin smoking, while also having the potential to serve as a smoking cessation tool. Today, I am asking the Standing Committee on Health to undertake a thorough study on e-cigarettes and provide a report.”
– Rona Ambrose, while Canadian Minister of Health in 2014
So, as I see it, either the research came back clean, or she’s a high paid hypocrite shilling for big tobacco. I’ll wait.
What about Vuse? Oh, they’re owned by British American Tobacco, one of the biggest cigarette players in the world, now making sure they keep their profits up by having a foot in each world.
Maybe I’m paranoid. Maybe self contained pods are just easier to stock. Well, my preferred one and done self contained e-cig is STLTH. They’re founded by a group of ex-smokers with over twenty years of cumulative experience in vape space, and no apparent ties to big tobacco. Their products are exclusively available in dedicated vape shops. Weird, right?
All this is in the name of “think of the children”. Well, I was one once, and I had no trouble getting my hands on cigarettes at 13. Locked in a decades long toxic on-off relationship with butts, I was down to a pack a week, feeling that was a negligible, “harmless” amount to smoke.
I made the switch to vape 2 years ago, and I breathe better. I no longer have that gross morning cough, and my vocal range has returned in a way I never thought it could. My house smells better. Hell, my hair smells better.
I enter an 18+ space, and make my adult decisions, aware that this is harm reduction, not perfection, and that no toxins are better than any toxins. It’s much the same way I think about alcohol.
If eliminating flavors stopped experimental and rebellious kids from doing stuff, alcoholic soda would be banned, and I wouldn’t have ever picked up a regular ol’smoke. If all we do is worry about the children, and 18+ spaces aren’t a good enough way to keep kids out and “safe”, then let’s board up every SAQ and SQDC.
Because as it stands, taking away my flavors looks like it won’t keep vape out of kids’ mouths, but it sure sounds like it will be taking money from small businesses, and giving it right back to big tobacco, one way or another.
Quebec will be re-opening some parts of its economy during the month of May. The province, at this point, will not be relaxing social distancing rules imposed because of the COVID-19 pandemic overall and will impose new regulations on businesses when the re-open.
Quebec Premier François Legault announced the plan in general at the government’s daily press briefing before passing it over to Pierre Fitzgibbon, Minister of Economic Development, Innovation and Export Trade with the details. So far there are three sectors re-opening:
Retail Stores: Retail businesses that are not located inside a shopping mall or businesses inside a mall but with a separate entrance will be allowed to open on May 4th across Quebec with the exception of the Greater Montreal Area and on May 11th in Montreal and its surroundings. Stores will remain closed on Sundays until May 31st.
Manufacturing: Manufacturing businesses across Quebec can open May 11th. Businesses with 50 or fewer employees working per day can re-open with full staff. Those with over 50 daily employees can open with 50 employees plus half the remaining staff. On May 25th, manufacturing businesses can open with full staff regardless of the size of the staff.
Construction: Construction businesses across Quebec can re-open May 11th.
Legault repeated remarks he made yesterday when talking about re-opening some schools as a justification for re-opening parts of the economy with COVID deaths and hospitalizations still on the rise. While situation is still dire in seniors’ residences, the population overall, excluding that sector, has been flattening the curve.
No word yet on when sit-down restaurants, bars, gyms and other businesses where social distancing could prove difficult may re-open. The government did say that they will be making other announcements at later dates.
A recent study conducted by the University of Guelph showed that the average Canadian household can expect to pay $411 more for fruits and vegetables in 2019 than they did last year. This also means that families that are already struggling to put healthy food on the table will have to pay a heftier price for the essentials. As a result of this low-income families will forgo healthier items for the much cheaper processed food counterparts.
While food prices going up is nothing new, this year’s increase for fruits and veggies, according to the Canada Food Price report, will be 3.5% compared to 2018’s 1.5% jump. This can have a big impact on healthy living as fruits and vegetables are considered essential to a balanced healthy diet.
However, the price of meat products is expected to drop for the first time in a decade. But recent surveys have shown that many Canadians are eating less meat in order to adopt a healthier diet.
The price of eating out will go up, too. This has to do with the rising minimum wage and the higher cost of food.
So, what can you do if you are struggling to buy groceries to combat these new high prices? First, start by making a monthly budget with how much you are going to spend on food. Second, look for sales and specials, Thirdly, use point cards to take advantage of special that may be offered.
Finally, try and buy things from stores that sell in bulk or when you see specials buy items that you can freeze and store for a later date.
If you are someone who enjoys eating out, maybe cut down the number of times you do: only on special occasions or maybe a few times a month instead of a few times a week.
But whatever you do, try and be a smart shopper. Looking out for specials and deals can save you a lot of money this year.
We figured out fire (ouch & yay), and soon put water near said fire. Look! Bubbles! Hey, those leaves smell good, let’s throw them into the bubbles! Wait, these flowers are pretty interesting, what if we… Well, that worked out. Now, what if we add some candy cinnamon lips?
This bring us to modern day, where purists roll their eyes, and the curious fairly ask, but is it tea? No, some of it’s tisane, but that’s not the point.
Personally, I’m excited by all the impressionistic flavors, not to mention all the wonderful names they come with. It makes shopping for teas a whole adventure as I explore, sniff, sample, and come home with packages wrapped like bonbons.
But sometimes, I don’t wanna. It’s cold, it’s gross out, I’m comfy where I am, screw pants. I still want creative teas though. Now.
First up, it’s Canadian, and I love that. Plus, I’m tired of the sticker shock when online prices convert to CAD and then add exorbitant shipping costs.
Another perk, small but important, is that the package fits in an apartment sized mailbox, which is super awesome if you live somewhere prone to thefts, or if your package pick up point is in an inconvenient spot, and I check both of those, so I was thrilled. Good start.
Plus, the packaging itself was charming, and it felt like I was receiving a gift from a Pinterest minded friend, which is exactly what Alisa Donaldson had in mind when she started the company. She told me by email that she “really connected with the idea of receiving a surprise in the mail every month (kind of like Christmas, or your birthday, but every month!).”
And my reaction is exactly what she was going for: “I love sharing that joy with our subscribers every month. I’m thrilled when we hear back from our subscribers about how much they love getting their tea boxes . We’re so happy we’re able to make that experience for them; it’s the reason we do what we do.”
Each box comes with three loose tea/tisane blends, and because this was my first box, I also got a handwritten card, and heart shaped infuser. Small touches are almost everything, and this felt really thoughtful.
This was the December box, and might I say, I was pretty relieved that there were no chai or “spice” variations in sight. I dig both, but everyone gets a little seasonally flavor specific, and I’m full of them right now, thanks.
I found the infuser glitchy, and I couldn’t get it to stay closed. I blamed myself, but my bf tried too, and we never solved it. No biggie, it was a bonus, and probably only the right size for a small cup, anyway. The instructions for each flavor were based on 8oz cups, and I like my tea big and strong, so I busted out my own gear, and started steeping.
First up, was Frosted Sugar Plum which the tagline called “sweet and fresh, like a ballet on your tongue”. Man, I do love me a good tagline. I don’t love black tea however, so this one was kind of bound to be my least favorite.
It was floral, and did help me evoke thoughts of tiny ballerinas on my tongue, but then I wanted them to leave. Not the tea’s fault, and this one was hands down my boyfriend’s fave, proving there’s something here for everyone.
Next was Chocolate Mint Perfection, and here’s a flavor that lends more to the drinking than the describing. It was perfectly mint chocolatey, wonderfully balanced, and aptly named.
My hands down fave was called Dessert but not Dessert, and I’m almost out of it. It was zingy and fruity, and reminded me of summer flavors, and maybe some shortcake, or crumble type thing.
It was a vibrant red, which cleared the darkest edges of my winter blues. I let it get cold, and yup, it makes a wicked good ice tea too, all fresh and juicy.
This box was fantastic, and super satisfying. As for the subscription, you can prepay (three months, six months, and one year) or pay $24.99 a month, which I would easily spend if I braved the snow, (slush, wind, rain, and whatever else is happening these days) to go find fun teas.
While this box was sent to me free for review, I definitely feel like I got $25 worth of enjoyment, and this one is on my shortlist of Presents I Intend To Buy Myself.
Café Le Cagibi has long held down the fort as a sort of (meta)physical gateway to Mile End at the corner of St-Laurent and St-Viateur. Yet after more than a decade—and amidst a strip dizzyingly gentrifying—the iconic café and show venue is moving on up.
Faced with—among other things—rent spikes north of 200%, Le Cagibi has opted to restructure. The metamorphosis actually began over a year ago, says Jess Lee, one of the proprietors. “As a group we tackled the issue of our lease, discussed landlord negotiations, and weighed pros, cons and feasibility of our various options,” she says.
“We decided moving was the best option.”
The iconic Mile End strip of St-Viateur between St-Laurent and Parc, built and popularized by places like Le Cagibi, has been gentrifying for years. Yet the gradual price edging of yesteryear has tipped over into something of a point of no return.
As documented by Gazette‘s T’cha Dunlevy, Le Cagibi’s rent increase came at the hands of Jeremy Kornbluth and Brandon Shiller, proprietors of upwards of seven properties on the strip, in addition to properties housing the controversial Starbucks in Marché Jean-Talon and the (now defunct) Gordon Ramsay remake of Le Laurier BBQ.
Yet according to Lee, there’s a silver lining to all this jazz. “Cagibi has always tried to provide a space for employees to learn and develop new skills and take on projects they’re excited about. The coop really formalizes this and takes it to the next level, allowing more folks to access the work, responsibilities and profits of ownership,” she says, noting that the new space will allow employees “to have more input into how the business runs,” and that regular nonworking members are also set to “benefit financially by receiving profits of the business and be able to choose where and how money goes back into the business.”
As such, Le Cagibi will join a growing cadre of city co-ops, such as nearby Touski and Divan Orange. The latter two proved particularly inspiring to Le Cagibi, according to Lee. “(These co-ops) were doing similar business operations and Touski provided us with an understanding of their structure which we definitely used as a springboard for discussing our own.”
So when will Le Cagibi as we know it be dissappearing? Having held its final show, the latest word is that current Le Cagibi will close around April 3rd. Lee says that the new space—on St-Zotique near St-Laurent—is slated to be open “as soon as possible… in time for Spring.”
The food menu might see some changes, though the details are still being hammered out.
As for the fate of the iconic Mile End of St-Viateur east of St-Laurent, things are much less certain.
“I think it just becomes more palpable and stark as financial capital begins to explicitly dominate the landscape,” says Lee of the changes. “But I think there’s a lot of resistance in Mile-End to allowing things to progress and a lot of continuous local support for long standing neighbourhood institutions. I think the real estate corporations buying into the neighbourhood are aiming to make Mile End a new Griffintown or Notre Dame in St. Henri, but in my opinion, they’re overshooting in their expectations.”
“If they continue to blow out the locale economy,” she says, “in five years time my guess is there will be many unrented facades, a lot of business turnover and a few boutique operations or multi-national corporations using their storefront as advertising rather then as a points of sale.”
On April 13, 2017 the Orange Racist Misogynist US President’s Mar-a-Lago resort was found to have at least thirteen health violations.
This article is not about the current US President, who seems to waste too much time at a resort that improperly disposes of fish parasites and stores food on rusty shelves, thus causing health risks to his fellow wealthy white male gasbags.
This article is about food safety.
Anyone who has endured severe nausea, vomiting, cramping and diarrhea after what seemed to be a safe and pleasant restaurant meal knows that food poisoning and food safety are no laughing matter. Food poisoning can cause hours or even days of discomfort and in some cases, even death. It is for this reason that food safety is so important.
In Canada, food safety is a major priority and every food-related industry is affected. Since the process of food inspection spans farming to fisheries to restaurants to the production of processed foods, this article is going to focus specifically on restaurant and food service safety and inspection.
Food safety and inspections relating to restaurants and food services in Canada are generally handled by the provincial authorities, though when there’s a big city involved, the provinces often delegate to municipal authorities, as in the case in Quebec.
In Quebec, restaurant and food safety is handled by primarily by the Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pecheries et de l’Alimentation (MAPAQ). MAPAQ delegates responsibility for food safety inspections in Montreal to the City of Montreal’s department of food inspection. Both organizations must enforce the Quebec Food Products Act.
The Quebec Food Products Act is a law that covers basic food safety in the province of Quebec. It defines food as anything that can be used to feed man or animals, including beverages but excluding anything alcoholic, which falls under the Act respecting the Société des alcools du Québec. Ice and bottled water are also considered food as per the act if they are intended for sale by volume or for preserving or preparing food. This information is not only useful for those charged with enforcing the law, but also handy for anyone arguing with a loved one about whether or not their favorite snack food is actually “real food”.
The term “restaurateur” as per the act refers to anyone who serves or sells meals or refreshments for consumption. This includes operators of schools and establishments governed by the Act respecting health services and social services, the Act respecting health services and social services for Cree Native persons, the Act respecting the Québec correctional system, and the Government and their departments or agencies.
The rules for food safety as per the Act are clear.
No one can prepare, keep for sale, purchase, sell, and resale or give as promotional items food that is unfit for human consumption, so deteriorated as to be unfit for human consumption, or if the safety of the food is “uncertain”.
Facilities used for food preparation and the vehicles used to transport it must be clean and sanitized. Machinery used in food preparation must be in good working order, designed for their intended use, and permit the cleaning and disinfecting of the machine when necessary. People involved in food preparation must comply with hygiene and sanitation rules prescribed by government regulations.
The City of Montreal’s Food Inspection Department has been around since 1927 and is now charged with enforcing the Act in the city. Their team of forty inspectors works to protect food consumers by ensuring the quality and safety of food prepared in restaurants, retail establishments, and in the transformation, preparation, storage, and distribution of food sectors. The City’s food inspection team is also responsible for temporary establishments, such as food stands set up for special events like the Montreal Jazz Festival, Grand Prix, and Just for Laughs.
The job of the inspectors is to inspect food and food related businesses and activities in terms of health risks and safety. They can also advise food business operators on good food safety practices, and conduct food quality and safety analyses.
As they have been charged by MAPAQ with enforcing the Act, the City’s food inspectors can charge and impose penalties on those in violation of the Food Products Act, which consist of fines ranging from two hundred and fifty dollars to two thousand dollars for a first offense, with fines increasing for every subsequent offense.
The City often imposes fines in response to complaints, which can be made by anyone witnessing unsanitary conditions at a restaurant or retail food seller, or following the consumption of food at an establishment that made the person sick. You can either phone in a complaint at 514-280-4300, or fill in an online form available at the City of Montreal’s website. In order to successfully submit a complaint online, all you need to provide are your name and contact info, the name and address of establishment, and the date and a brief description of the incident. The information provided is considered confidential and once a complaint is received, the City inspectors should respond within twenty-four hours.
Want to try a new restaurant or café but doubtful of its cleanliness? The City of Montreal has a page allowing you to see if a place has previously been cited for food safety violations. You can search for it according to the name of the place, the address, the street, city, or type of business. Just remember that a previous citation for health violations doesn’t necessarily mean the place is not up to code now.
The City of Montreal gets about 1900 complaints a year for everything from unclean conditions, to spoiled food, to vermin, to illness following food consumption. In a city that thrives on vibrant restaurant culture, food safety is a major priority, so don’t be afraid to give them a call the next time your food makes you sick.
* Featured image by Michela Simoncini, Creative Commons
We live in a time where it is easy to lose track of the goodness and color. A vast diversity of humanity exists in a world where crushing greed and extraordinary evil are mainstream.
We live in a time where racism is prevalent and children starve in the streets, we live in a world where dumpsters are filled with flowers and fresh oranges, and we need to remember the art. We need to contemplate beauty as much as we absorb the daily hate crimes and oppression from all angles.
We need to pause the anger so we can hug random strangers in the street. We must pet dogs with fingerless gloves and smile back at little children. We must say hello to our neighbors and engage the community with open arms.
How can you participate in activism? Be active! The first step to making a change is to just go for it! Feed people, tell them you love them, make their day happy on purpose.
Everyone is beautiful and deserves flowers! Flowers have magic powers. People always grabbed them to share with others too, spreading smiles that would have just been rotting in a dump otherwise.
After major Hallmark holidays stores throw out garbage bags and buckets full of beautiful bouquets of flowers. Waste Not Want Not and Food Not Bombs are two Freegan groups that I am involved with that go into the dumpsters and salvage things like produce and flowers from landfills.
This is our second time handing out free flowers. I wrote a similar blog last year and was inspired to do so again because it is important, check out Dumpster Diving for Sustainability.
I haven’t gone dumpster diving in a while. Well, I am more of a spectator because I feel like if I climbed in I would not be able to get out. I should get a step stool. A head lamp and work gloves are also important. Bring boxes and garbage bags for the haul.
Look for food that is in sealed packaging or fruits and veggies with a tough outer skin that can be washed. Most smaller grocery stores do not have compactors, so if they leave their dumpsters unlocked you are good to go.
It is incredible what people are going through. A little bit of joy can change the world.
The other day we had a burlesque show and a man who was in the military, suffering from PTSD and suicidal thoughts, came to it and told us that he felt better after seeing our show! The comedy and light we put out into the night saved someone’s life. He is going to come back every Tuesday.
It is so important to remember that not everyone is as privileged as you are, not everyone has a place to live or a family that loves them. Some people live in the shadow of atrocity. They are forced to wallow in the splinters and shards of broken glass. Lift them up by sharing in the bounty, help the world be a better place, and always remember to love each other!
After we shared flowers my friend stopped at a restaurant to pick up leftover rice and beans and at a coffee shop for some bread, then dropped it off at Friends of the Night People, where they serve the homeless daily. He also saved literally 800 pounds of plantain bananas today as well, and we gleamed some persimmons.
I learned a lot about urban foraging the other day. It feels good to connect things that would have been wasted to people that need them to survive. I don’t know what I would do without my Food Not Bombs salvaged produced, it feeds me for the whole week.
The Salvage Supper Club hosts dinners in “clean decked out dumpsters”. The group of activists have thrown dumpster parties in Brooklyn, Berkely and San Franciso.
I love the idea of a fancy sit down meal made of saved food right in the dumpster to promote better waste consciousness. People need to be engaged and excited about waste prevention. Landfills are terrible for the environment. Many people are rescuing food from restaurants and grocery stores across the world.
With friends, I am currently working on a Food Not Bombs mural in the basement of the Hostel Buffalo Niagara where I work. It is fun to represent the community in this piece, I will post photos when it is complete.
Although it is monumentally important to create political art and art that sheds light on terrible things, sometimes it is refreshing to see something whimsical and fun just for the sake of being lovely. Art that is childish and kind, art that makes people smile.
Currently there is an artist installing work based on his twin four year old sons. They are incredible! 15 feet tall, sort of pixilated Rockum Sockum robots meet Lego versions of “Larger Than Life” children. It reminds us of innocence and feeling like you can accomplish anything.
Kids are born with that sense of giant wonder, they are color blind, they are confident. They must continue to be nurtured by adults who remember what it’s like to be a child.
I have seen at least 10 people walk by the window and smile, never forget how to smile. Let the sunshine into your heat and always remember to love each other fully and proudly, out in the open.
Love is free! Spread the seeds so they can grow into flowers and bloom rainbows of positivity.
The British vote to exit from the UK, better known as Brexit, which took place a few months ago, is admittedly quite a complex issue. Many have tried to explain it in terms of history , socio-economic conditions and politics, but none have tried to explain it with food. That is, until now.
With their new video How to Make Cucumber Sandwiches, Töad Meädow, a collective based outside Buffalo, New York, does just that. The group “wants to encourage people to become producers of artistic content, rather than rampant consumers” and with this video they’re doing just that.
It’s a funny, sometimes irreverant, take on Brexit, mixed in with a brief history of other places leaving the UK. There’s even a bit on the Levesque-era Quebec sovereignty movement.
The short film was directed by Damon Hudac and produced by Melissa Campbell, who also appears in it. They hope to “bring light to this enormously important world event,” according to a press statement:
“We would like many people to see and talk about it. Basically, through history, many countries have attempted to separate from the UK as well as many other groups separating from their larger oppressive controlers. This is a light hearted look with a very serious message.”
Also, you really should cut off the bread crust. Enjoy!
In the US food trucks are hailed as a cheaper, easier way for chefs and entrepreneurs to get into the food business. Unfortunately in Montreal, a city hailed for its festivals, parks, and diversity, getting a food truck is almost as difficult and expensive as getting a restaurant. Though other cities in Canada have had vehicles offering a variety of culinary delights to consumers, Montreal has only been allowing food trucks since 2013, finally ending a ban in place since the 40s.
In 1947 the City of Montreal banned food trucks for sanitation reasons. Attempts to lift the food truck ban were fought on cleanliness grounds and by restaurateurs who were paranoid about losing business. The city eventually came to a compromise and enacted the Règlement règissant la cuisine de rue aka The Regulation on Street Food.
The Regulation sets out rules regarding food trucks in the City of Montreal. Independent areas on the island of Montreal like Cote Saint Luc and Westmount have their own rules.
In the City of Montreal, only those possessing the proper permit can sell street food. At first glance it seems pretty simple: get a permit, get your food truck. Sadly, the process by which one gets a permit is extremely complex and costly. In order to be able to even apply for a permit, you first have to apply to a selection committee created by the city to assess applications from potential street food vendors.
The committee is comprised of two City employees and three representatives of either the restaurant business or the culinary arts. If you get a positive recommendation from the committee you can then apply to get your street food permit and in both steps of the process, the amount of documents required seems pretty absurd.
To get the committee to even look at your application you have to include not just forms, fees, and proof that your truck is fire and environmentally safe, but also a crazy amount extra information including a full menu, price list, ingredients’ list, colour photos of your dishes, the names and contact info of your food suppliers, and the CVs of the people who will be running your truck. You also have to include plans for the interior layout of the truck and any designs you plan to put on its exterior.
Have a secret family recipe? It won’t be a secret by the time the City is through with it, for though committee members are legally supposed to avoid conflicts of interest, the likelihood they’ll be objective and maintain the secrecy of applications in a city ripe with corruption is low at best. Furthermore, as per the regulation, the City gets to keep all the documents you sent in addition to the non-refundable application fee, making the temptation for restaurateurs and industry reps all the greater in Montreal’s highly competitive restaurant industry.
If you get a positive recommendation from the committee, you can move on to the actual permit application. In this application you have to prove that you meet Montreal’s ridiculous food truck requirements. You have to prove you have a kitchen space independent of your food truck at which the preliminary prep of the food must be made and have to provide copies of your permits, lease, and property tax assessments to that effect. You also have to be insured for physical and material damages up to two million dollars.
If all of this goes through you might be lucky enough to get a food truck permit, but your joy will probably be short lived. Food truck permits are only good for one truck and can either last for a season or a year with only one automatic renewal option. The foods and drinks trucks can sell are also outrageously regulated.
Food trucks can’t sell booze (with an exception if it’s an ingredient in a dish). They can’t sell anything “buffet-style” and any prep has to be done at your independent kitchen. Only items included in the menu you sent to the committee can be sold from your food truck.
Forget about selling hot dogs, inexpensive tacos, or plain poutines from the truck as some of the selection criteria for a positive committee recommendation include creativity, originality, and whether or not basic ingredients are transformed while making the dish.
Food truck owners can forget about competing with restaurants because they can only sell their wares in zones designated by the City, usually far away from areas with a lot of restaurants.
With all these crazy requirements, it’s no wonder food truck offerings in Montreal seem sparse and unnecessarily fancy. If you want a pogo and fries, you won’t find them in a food truck selling fish tartare and gazpacho and you can thank the City and its selection committee for that.
If you add up the cost of having a kitchen or restaurant space, the food truck itself, the equipment, the food, and the crazy application process, food trucks don’t seem worth the trouble for those wanting to break in to the restaurant business. They’re better off taking their chances on a small restaurant or going into the catering business.
This is what restaurant owners in Montreal wanted all along: the maintenance of their control over the city’s food scene, and they kept it via their sway on municipal authorities. Where food trucks are concerned, what the City of Montreal calls a compromise is just a thinly veiled attempt to maintain a monopoly.
To think, we had our chance. A luscious one at that: green, fatty and garlicky smooth. Yet we didn’t let it sink in properly up here.
That heralding moment we called #GuacGate. The absurd #gate to end all #gates, it seemed to finally provoke laughs and calm South of the border, marking the death of the slowly decaying storm of …#gates over thirty or forty years.
Yet not only do Canadians make very poor guacamole, it seems, we completely fail to let go when it comes to our own “#gates.” On this one, we Canadians just can’t move on. Perhaps it’s the lack of godly, earthly, comforting avocadoes in our land.
The Trajectory of the #Gate
It used to mean something, really. Both here at home and abroad. The ring of stature & sadness, or something just in between.
Even if one was not alive when it happened, even if still a child, the mere phrase “Watergate” would leave one curious, intimidated, even threatened. Remember it? A “gate” before peegate & hairgate, in other words before “#gate,” a Gate uttered in whispers, almost solemnly, by our elders.
One need only observe casual samples to see the slow decline of the #gate. Once lodged for matters of deep concern – corruption, foreign relations, world order – the phrase has evaporated into scandals of urine, doughnuts and teen idols. Here’s a random selection, with my own legend for ease of reading.
1980: #BillyGate (Scandal keywords: President Jimmy Carter, foreign relations, Khadafi)
Yet even though the US seemed to have gone in the direction, quieting down, Canadians dug in their heels.
There was #peegate (keywords: MP, coffee mug, relief), then #hairgate (keywords: Atwood, cached news, National Post).
Then finally, the day we were set to debate one of the most monumentally significant legal and medical bills in recent years. Which became…#elbowgate.
The thing is, there’s nothing left to be said about what happened, or what it “means,” as have so many others. So I’ll just beg this one thing: please let this be the gate to end all #gates. By that I don’t mean stop talking about things. Rather, just close the gate and move on once and for all.
One Memorial Day weekend back in rural Connecticut, I was invited to attend the now-legendary Memorial Day Meatfest and asked to bring a meat for grilling. Instead, I bought a bag of crickets from a nice Thai woman in Rensselaer, New York and at her recommendation, I roasted them with oil and chili powder. They were delicious and the ideal beer-accompanying snack, but they were not well-received by the guests at Meatfest. They simply weren’t presented well. Guests were hesitant (putting it lightly) to eat whole crickets, legs and all.
But if the consumption of insects were presented with some statistics explaining why it’s a great idea, Montreal-based Social Entrepreneur Sidiki Sow is confident that Canadians would buy them. In fact, of the 1000+ students he surveyed for his final research project to complete his degree in Agriculture and Environment from McGill University, 93% of those presented with the benefits of insect consumption would be willing to buy an insect-based product.
Sow’s goal is to “make a place for insects on our plate,” and by starting with education, he believes that Western diets will begin to shift to welcome insect protein. Sow’s cricket protein bar is entering the market by building off of a long and important culinary history.
“This is not new. All over the world, even in the U.S., even in Texas, there is a long culinary tradition of preparing insects. And people love it! When they’re prepared with love, insects are just as good as a nice steak or barbecue chicken.”
Sow has a close working relationship with the Aspire Food Group, and currently works as one of their ambassadors. Aspire is his enterprise’s inspiration, and he has benefitted immensely from their mentorship by the team, especially CEO Mohammed Ashour (Hult Prize Winner, McGill MBA).
Sow explained that the business model for his enterprise relies on presenting the protein, not the insect. “Promoting the idea of sustainability and educating people about the benefits of insect consumption will increase their willingness to pay for a product,” Sow told me. “[Insects] feed on basically any biological material, and they’re very efficient at transforming organic matter into high-quality protein. […] And crickets need 40 times less water than cattle do to produce the same amount of protein!”
Sow elaborated that most insects suitable for mass-consumption live in hives, and as such will require far less land use than grazing animals. However, as hives are active only in certain months, the challenge lies in making the process of building up insects’ iron and calcium a year-long one.
Once Sow’s subjects were presented with these facts, they were not only willing to eat insects, but even willing to pay a premium price for protein bars made with cricket flour.
According to Sow, there’s not a significant difference behind consuming animal protein and insect protein. “The marketing industry has been very good at completely separating our perception of the meat and our perception of the animal. We are so far removed from eating the animal, we don’t even think about it.” Sow elaborated that this teaches a valuable lesson for marketing insect protein: “[When we think that way,] we’re not consuming something that’s part of the biological environment, we’re consuming just meat… We need to do the same thing with insects.”
By emphasizing the health and sustainability benefits of insect consumption, Sow’s product will market itself less as “insect bars” and more as “delicious protein bars made from insects.”
Sow exhibited his research at SOCENT NEXT, a Social Entrepreneurship event held at Le Salon 1861 that offers a collaborative working space for developing social businesses in Montreal.
Sow explained that “research shows we will have 9.6 billion people on earth by 2050, and we will need to double our food production to accommodate them. Currently, 9-18% of greenhouse gas emissions like methane come from agriculture, and 70% of our water supply is used in agriculture.” (Source: www.fao.org/docrep/018/i3253e/i3253e.pdf)
Most of the methane produced and water used in agriculture goes to raising cattle and other animals. “If we have to double the current production. […] It will have terrible consequences for the planet. We need more sustainable agriculture, and that will come from insects.”
Sanders is the Tom Mulcair of candidates south of the border. Just not in the way you might think.
Each has pulled his party in the polar opposite direction. Yet they share a gruff gastronomic asceticism on the campaign trail.
If you recall, Forget the Box was the first outlet to uncover the bombshell news: Mulcair’s organs are made of bricks and wool. Our investigative report disclosed that this Prime Minister hopeful had never been seen partaking in food, even when hiking on Mont-Royal, stumping in small towns, or Schwartz-ing with jovial peers.
Now Sanders’ food choices remain equally opaque, leaving us up here to surmise that he survives on his healthy diet of finger wagging. Even the hearty US press corps, with its fifteen months of research, has come up mostly empty trying to paint the “lifestyle” profile of loveable Uncle Bern.
In candidate surveys, the best they could come up with was “scrambled eggs for breakfast.” This sounds like it was filled in by some campaign intern. Though it’s not really an answer, we’ll assume they’re unsalted, devoid of condiments.
To be fair, Sanders has this slight edge over Mulcair. The latter was never even seen sipping coffee, whether in meetins or at pictoresque rural working class diners. Sanders, on the other hand, was definitively ID-ed sipping Vermont craft beer. It seems suspicious, sort of a photo-op setup.
Bernie Sanders with a can of Heady Topper (the top-rated beer in the world) which is brewed in Vermont. pic.twitter.com/kKRe39RoK6
Yet I believe it. He is drinking the hoppiest beer in a state known for very hoppy delights, which seems to fit with his enjoyably bitter personal brand.
You might recall the eponymous #GuacGate, spurred by the NYT’s suggestion of peas in traditional Mexican-American versions of guac.
We saw then that guacamole was a deeply divisive political issue, and this was before the immigration debate gathered full steam. Yet it also united party leaders in unexpected ways, such as Jeb and Obama’s ardent disavowel of this French intrusion into an already-perfect dish.
Fittingly, one of the only dissenters, even in a moment of bipartisan fun, was divisive Senator Ted Cruz. The Texas senator came up on the wrong side as his colleagues as usual, claiming his distaste not only for guacamole, but for avocadoes full stop.
Fitting consistent with his Texas image, Cruz picks enchiladas (the legal kind) over any other dish.
Now to the frontrunners. We’ll save Clinton to the end, because her food preferences, like Harper’s in my original article, somehow leave me most unsettled.
This is a surprise in itself, because in this unprecedented US primary spectacle, you’d think Trump would reign supreme generating gastronomic headlines. Yet despite him criticizing Kasich for his hearty four-course Italian meal at a New York market food stand, he has been criticized for eating pizza with forks and generally unhealthy food preferences. This might be exciting for another candidate, though for Trump’s grand style, his diet lands up surprisingly boring, even unworthy of mention.
He claims he eats light and healthy on the trail, sans alcohol. He does, of course, mention that he indulges in his favourite dish once in awhile: US steak. This is helpful, given the cartons of unsold Trump Steaks likely sitting in some warehouse.
Remember Obama’s epic stops at Ray’s & In n Out burger, photos of juicy burgers joyously shared with Senator Joe? They swarmed over social media, part of his fresh new image that helped launch him to the win.
Clinton, on the other hand, is ever the milquetoast frontrunner. In ways eerily similar to Harper who, lest we forget, was once touted to regain his majority reign, she avoids unplanned ops or stops or any real insight into her soul. So the first similarity is their over-advised inhuman personas: it’s hard to discern if they have any real passions or preferences at all.
Now, some criticized this as blatant pandering, since this detail unsurprisingly slipped out during one of her Southern campaign stops. It’s possible that Clinton’s hot sauce obsession is as manufactured as her Southern accent.
Like her true views on society, policy and values, one thing’s safe to say: we’ll never know the truth.
What dirt have you uncovered on the Presidential candidates eating habits?
UPDATE: Press time: Carly Fiorina just announced her VP run with Cruz. We’re curious if the Cruz team vetted her dietary preferences before the presser.
‘I always used to eat Milk-Bones as a kid’: Carly Fiorina snacks on dog treats and tells puppies to vote Republican because ‘Obama ate your cousin’ in bizarre video – Daily Mail, 15 Dec. 2015
Where do the Republican front-running prez brigade stand on food policy? What do the Democratic presidential candidates say when it comes to important food issues?
More than most other issues, food remains foundational to the wider platforms of the GOP & Democratic 2016 primary candidates. It’s reach relates to the deeper economic, environmental, foreign policy, health and labour platforms on offer.
For all the debates, media hype and fact checking, there’s been little to no discussion of food issues, let alone wider food policy. Here in Canada, it took outside advocacy groups to push for food policy in the run-up to the election.
The Eat, Think Vote campaign urged citizens to eat with their MPs to get them to pledge to tabling national food policy. Luckily, it seems the tactic worked, as the eventual majority party made good on their promise to follow through on the national food policy mandate, not to mention what we see now in mainstream press running renewed calls for this policy.
For small businesses, when it comes to food, Senator Ted Cruz promises to:
End EPA regulations like the Waters of the U.S. rule and the Clean Power Plan that “burden small businesses and farmers.”
Pass the REINS Act, “holding Congress accountable to vote on any major cost-inducing regulation.”
His platform promises to rein in the Fed, which he promises will help farmers and ranchers:
“When the dollar is high as it is today,” says Cruz, “prices tend to fall, which is good for consumers, but farmers, ranchers, and the energy industry get hurt, as do American exporters. America needs a more stable dollar.”
For income of farmers and food workers, Cruz’ flat tax policy would promise to free up income to get the economy flowing so to speak
Rubio dedicates one entire policy platform to farms. His main premise is to “get government out of the way of farmers” via curbing overregulation, cutting taxes and opening up new markets.
This includes platform to:
Repeal regulations on farmers and ranchers. This includes undoing the EPA ‘Waters of the U.S. Rule’ which Senator Rubio pledges will “dramatically expand federal control over ponds, ditches and streams.” Other regulatory repealing includes cutting carbon mandates, to open up what he calls “swathes of productive land off-limits for agriculture or other beneficial development.”
Cut the punitive “death tax” on farmers. This is part of his larger tax plan. This will free up cashflow for farmers and ranchers, e.g. “to immediately write off the cost of new machinery and equipment.”
Oppose new taxes on energy. Senator Rubio promises to fight cap-and-trade in order to decrease costs for farmers. This falls under his wider energy plan.
Open new markets for farmers and ranchers. This would be supporting pushing for “timely completion of trade agreements to boost exports for US farmers and ranchers”
Democratic Presidential Candidates Policy on Food Issues
Democratic 2016 presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) has the most lengthy public platform relating to food. In several sections of his platform, he touches food issues. In particular, food policy is explicitly mentioned in the platform he calls “fighting for the rural economy.”
Broadly speaking, Bernie Sanders supports:
Farm policies that foster the new generations of owner-operators.
Upholding land stewardship standards that include the commonwealth of clean water for all.
Sanders promises the following outcomes from the platform of his farming and food policies:
Make sure that family farmers and rural economies thrive;
Expand support for young and beginning farmers; 3
Produce an abundant and nutritious food supply;
Establish an on-going regeneration of our soils;
Enlist farmers as partners in promoting conservation and stewardship to keep our air and water clean and to combat climate change.
Specific food issues and food policy fit into Senator Bernie Sanders’ rural communities, farm agriculture, & renewable energy platforms. Here are the top lines:
Supports to agriculture
Senator Bernie Sanders promises to “fight for America’s small and mid-sized farms.” In particular, he pledges platform policy to:
Expand services of the D for new and underserved farmers. Says Sanders, this department should “live up to the name” it was given by Lincoln, who called it the “People’s Department”
Encourage growth of regional food systems. Senator Sanders pledges to invest into local farmers who sell “directly to local consumers, institutions, and restaurants.”
Reverse trade policies, e.g. NAFTA that he says “have flooded the American market with agricultural goods produced in countries with less stringent environmental, labor, and safety regulations.”
Enforce US antitrust laws against large agribusiness and food corporations. Senator Sanders pledges to “stand up to corporations” to make the prices that farmers receive more fair. He wants to prevent “few large companies” that “dominate many agricultural industries, allowing them to force unfair prices on farmers.”
Renewable energy investment
Several energy policies impact farmers, ranchers and small food businesses, not to mention food to plate distribution. Senator Sanders is particularly firm on this matter. His platform says it will:
Increase investments in wind energy to “substantial” degree
Make the Wind Production Tax Credit permanent.
Invest into biofuels, e.g. ethanol. Sanders calls these an “economic lifeline to rural and farm communities in Iowa and throughout the Midwest, supporting over 850 000 workers, all while keeping our energy dollars here at home instead of going into the pockets of oil barons.”
Support the Renewable Fuels Standard
Though not directly related, Sanders speaks fully on rural US improvements, which has huge impact on farmers, ranchers and the future of food quality & distribution. Senator Sanders pledges to:
Improve the electric grid. “We desperately need to improve our aging rural electrical grid, which consists of a patchwork system of interconnected power generation, transmission, and distribution facilities, some of which date back to the early 1900s,” says Bernie Sanders.
Invest in high-speed Internet services for rural folk to improve infrastructure, e.g. for farmers.
Improve dams, most of which facilities exist in rural areas. His Rebuild America Act will invest $12 billion per year to repair “high-hazard dams that provide flood control, drinking water, irrigation, hydropower, and recreation across rural America; and the flood levees that protect our farms and our towns and cities.”
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in her US presidential candidacy for the Democratic party, does not specifically offer food policy improvements. Certain issues for food production, distribution, farmers & ranchers crop up in her other platforms.
She does have a platform on renewable energies, some of which touches directly farmers and food production. Secretary Clinton promises to:
Reform leasing on public lands. This includes to “reform fossil fuel leasing and significantly expand clean energy production on public lands, from wind in Wyoming to solar in Nevada.”
Promote clean energy leadership and collaborative stewardship.
Fully fund programs to provide help to “producers who conserve and improve natural resources on their farms, strengthen the Renewable Fuel Standard, and double loan guarantees that support the bio-based economy’s dynamic growth.”
Her labour and minimum wage policy touches food workers, in particular. These fast food workers started the minimum wage campaigns which Secretary Clinton pushes:
Raise the minimum wage and strengthen overtime rules.
Support raising the federal minimum wage to $12
Support to raise further than the federal minimum through state and local efforts
Support workers organizing and bargaining for higher wages, “such as the Fight for 15 and recent efforts in Los Angeles and New York to raise their minimum wage to $15.”
Support the Obama expansion of overtime rules “to millions more workers.”
Clinton promises broadly in her rural policy to raise agricultural “production and profitability for family farms.” Vaguely, she mentions that:
Farmers and ranchers supply food for America’s dinner tables, invest in farm machinery and supplies, and provide domestic energy resources that fuel small businesses. The agriculture economy also drives America’s larger economic success—accounting for about $800 billion in economic activity each year.
Yet her policies do not go into specifics, except to:
Increase funding to support farm succession. This support would supposedly include “the next generation of farmers and ranchers, invest in expanding local food markets and regional food systems, and provide a focused safety net to assist family operations that truly need support during challenging times.”
I recently found out that a rose picked out of the dumpster smells just as sweet as the one picked from your mom’s garden. To me it even smells better because it is saved from an ugly fate, reclaimed beauty almost lost to the sad depths of a landfill. FIlled with disposable diapers, plastic bags, produce, packaged meat that is not expired , enough plastic to sustain the ball in the middle of the ocean, and more. We need to start refusing the refuse.
After Valentine’s day a group of my diver friends came across a giant bag of flowers thrown in the dump. The next day we handed them out to people, only asking for a hug in return. Free hugs and flowers! Pure beauty, simple acts of kindness. We spread joy and love with no expectations.
Flowers are the universal sign of affection. Everyone smiled, most people hugged us, all and all it was a completely beautiful experience. It is important to make genuine connections with strangers. We are all bonded due to our own imperfect humanity, all just walking around this earth trying to make a difference. We all get hungry and need love to survive.
Many people took the free flowers, and it was always for someone else. These are for my mother, daughther, husband, or friend in the hospital. They acted liked it needed to be justified for them to take a flower. It’s not charity, it’s solidarity. Everyone deserves to be spoiled with a rose to the nose.
People are more likely to take a flower or a thing from the garbage than food due to the misconception that everything in there is gross and unsanitary. In fact most things are fully packaged, safe, and fresh enough to eat.
The other day I was sitting in a nature preserve watching deer eating grass, living their happy lives. Just to my right was a crazy highway, cars speeding, filled with miserable folks in rush hour traffic, driving to and from monotony, hell with a paycheck. Industrial decay and a face for our greed.
We live on a planet that needs a little love. The deer were so beautiful and kind to each other. They take only what they need. We have to learn to be like animals, stop it already with the unnecessary waste. If we were all environmentally conscious vegans who coexisted people would live longer healthier lives.
We build things and abandon them, skeletons from a past industrial boom, now rotting corpses of buildings riddle our waterfronts. Food deserts and barren lots make the idea of urban farming so lovely. I want to live in sprawling green fields and lush forests with the prettiest streams and trees, woodland creatures frolicking. There we will let the flowers grow, we will nourish them and never cut them and tie them into plastic bags.
At the same time I adore the culture and fastness of a city. I can’t decide if I am a city girl who yearns to drop off the grid and move to the country or if I want to start and urban farm in a post industrial wasteland ghetto. People need to take pride in their communities and get their hands dirty to transform the space we all inhabit.
Last week I went dumpster diving for the first time. Well, I didn’t actually go in but I assisted, so technically my dumpster cherry has not been popped yet. I need a step ladder, hopefully one will magically appear in the dumpster.
They jumped right in with head lamps on like ninjas with a mission, in and out, moving quick. Nobody stopped us. Eventually the goal is to dress up like raccoons wearing speedos (get it dumpster “diving”) and jump on in.
It was hard to see first hand all of the terrible waste that happens on a daily basis. It makes me sick to think of all the stuff that nobody saves. We live in a world where people are starving and so much food is thrown out that it’s fucking disgusting.
I am baffled, none of this logic makes sense. Starving children with dumpsters full of food. Good food deemed trash, there is something wrong there. Each store needs to have an ugly produce section for dinged up, mutant, perfectly ripe produce at a discount price.
Instead some stores pour bleach on their dumpsters to prevent people from going in them. Just let us take the abandoned food and flowers, don’t be a heartless. There was so much more too, slippers, toys, and household wares. The abundance needs distribution.
None of us are homeless, we don’t “look like people who need help,” but the sad fact is that we all need help. Hunger is silent and needs to end. There is more than enough for all of us.
The group feasted with a pot luck made entirely of reclaimed food. I ate the things I grabbed for a whole week. It really makes your eyes open to see the rainbow bounty: piles of apples, bananas, crates of oranges, containers of hummus, day old bread, potatoes, cartons of eggs (with maybe one broken and the rest fine), purple onions, green peppers, bbq chips, coconut oil, and so much more.
Any hang ups are all in your head. I know people who survive solely on salvaged free food and that’s fucking awesome!
Be a Freegan! Reduce waste, only take what you need and share the rest, reject consumerism, be ethical, and fight for food justice. I am part of a group called Food Not Bombs, we cook and serve donated food that would have headed to the dumpster. There are pay what you can cafes and free restaurants all over the world that are on the forefront of food revolution.
Waste not want not. Spread joy and give people beautiful flowers. Cook them food. Share your love. Be part of the change.