Seventeen Days of Food

by Nic Olson

I just finished peanut butter on toast and am drinking a can of Pilsner. I can’t say that I’m glad to be home.

Every kilometre closer to home I got, the worse the food was. I left the San Francisco apartment at 9am, unable to find a Mexican restaurant that was open, so instead I got a pretty decent deli sandwich and the hangover-fighting goodness of a coconut water. I bought three apples at the Farmer’s Market, an It’s It at the tobacco store. Upon arriving in Denver, slightly nauseous and reeling, I ordered a 12″ cheese pizza from Dominos. It was delivered to me undercooked; I ate the whole pizza. The apples were tough like biting into cowhide, and void of flavour like sucking on a brick of styrofoam. And now I am home, sipping overpriced, mediocre beer (I fully support taxing alcohol and tobacco in order to never have to learn the difference between Medicare and Medicaid, something no one could explain to me whilst in the USA), and eating dumpstered bread.

Cover me in tacos and call me Delicious Susan.

Still my stomach is sour and flinching from the vacation-titled reward of beer breakfasts and taco-dominated diet. But I will persevere.

With the exception of my 5-day food-and-beer bender, the times I have eaten the best, most balanced, full meals in the past seventeen days were the times that I went grocery shopping in the dumpster. Or to mom’s house. The quality of the food differs greatly between the two, however the quantities and personal cost differ in no way. Limitless and free. I’ve been meaning to tell my mother this. That I once cooked her a meal with my girlfriend in Montreal that was composed largely of dumpster food items. Free, shared, washed, dumpster foods. For a while she had a photograph of me on the fridge, rooting around in the dumpster. Dad took the photo while they were in Montreal. It was staged, they didn’t find me like that.

I haven’t purchased a vegetable in the last three months. Unlike my roommates, this doesn’t mean that I haven’t eaten a vegetable in the last three months. I have grown them myself. And though it looks like I’m wasting away, I am doing so in as healthy and cheap a way as possible. But through spending time with those that eat properly, and being suggested TED Talks about Mitochondria, it becomes evident that my eating is for survival, very rarely for enjoyment until I binge in a city with forty taco spots in a ten block radius, and just scrapes the surface of health. These friends, and this video, bring up the argument that food is likely the most important thing you spend your money on, and it directly affects your future, and that of the environment. But I’d rather put my nuts in the microwave and eat canned refried beans. I don’t have time otherwise. I’ve got movies to watch, screens to worship.

One of the greats was in town just before I left, a friend with whom I always end up talking at length about food. I delivered dahl to her at the shittiest bar on earth, and she recently returned the favour recently with cookies, cheesecakes, and more. She suggested that people get offended when they are called out on their bad food habits, likely because it is something that, as supposedly responsible adults, they should know how to do properly. They should know the difference between a bag of microwave burritos, and a homegrown burrito, and when they notice their foolishness and their laziness, it is not as easy to swallow as a bite of a cheesy, warm, mushy microwave Mexican-food.

I will likely continue to waste away, each week my pants droop further so that my shoelace belt will eventually wrap my waist twice. But it will be done in great health, with nothing purchased or found gone to waste. I will undoubtedly continue to live and eat frugally, so that I can save up and make up for my inadequate diet while I am partying in cities cooler than my own. Or maybe I will eat better, finally fill out my Medium-sized t-shirts and it will force you to ask the question that my father asked me a few weeks ago at the University lecture: “Have you ever seen an obese environmentalist?”

I’m still waiting for the punchline. Likely about dumpster soups or eating recycled bicycle parts. Let’s hear it.